New guitar rises from the ashes of Brunswick church fire

Posted Jan. 08, 2013, at 6:15 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 08, 2013, at 6:42 p.m.

Bath luthier Carter Ruff delivered a new guitar on Tuesday. It wasn’t made from normal acoustic guitar woods like spruce and mahogany. The instrument, made in his shop at Subterranean Music Works, was crafted from the pine and ash of a church pew.

The bench, which formerly held Sunday parishioners, came from Ruff’s own church, the Universalist Unitarian Church of Brunswick, which burned down in the summer of 2011.

The small guitar, which still bears a nail hole Ruff decided to leave in as a testament to its former life, was auctioned off recently and fetched $3,000. The winning bidders were church minister Sylvia Stocker and her husband, Steve Wellcome. The money will go toward the new building fund.

“It’s a nice memento of the church, and the people,” said Wellcome as he took possession of the custom instrument, which features a beveled armrest and a sound port in the shape of a flame.

Ruff has been working on the guitar, between other projects and repairs, since last fall and said he has no idea how many hours he has put into it. But he’s happy to do something to help rebuild the church where he and his wife were married.

“It feels nice to be able to use something from [the old church] to help get the next one built,” he said.

Another church member, singer/songwriter Jud Caswell, has written a song about the fire and already has plans to record music using the new guitar.