Meet Martin Tremblay, luthier in Montréal
How I met Martin Tremblay: I was touring Europe years ago for more than a month, searching for a couple of exceptional guitars. And, while meeting collectors and reputable brokers over there, I expressed my doubts I would find the right luthier to take care of the beauties I was buying.The name of Martin Tremblay came up a few times during my trip, much too often to be a coincidence. I never met the guy before his name was mentioned to me, and my previous luthier in Montréal was doing a decent job, nothing though comparable to the master of all time, Busato. True, I had abandoned long ago the hope that I would ever meet a luthier of the caliper of Barnabe Busato.
Back in Montréal I decided to give it a try. I had 4 Busatos, which needed work, but I am not a reckless guy and particularly with the object of my passion. I picked a nice 12 frets made by Antoine DI Mauro in the 50’s and I brought it to Martin. This guitar was unplayable above the 5 th fret, and it produced a mediocre sound, not to mention it looked less than average. Ten days later I did not recognized the instrument. It played like a brand new high-
In the months following this first job, Martin took care for me of more than a dozen Busatos, my Selmer, a dozen Di Mauro including Joseph the Elder’s superb instruments, a couple of JB Castelluccia the Elder, and numerous guitars made by Busato under the Paris Musical, Symphonia and Sonora trademarks. All these guitars needed some serious setups and repairs, including neck resets, fret board changes, refretting and neck changes. The same level of quality came out of Martin’s expert hands.
Some great names of gypsy music now play instruments which found a new life in the hands of Martin Tremblay, including Dorado Schmitt and Amati, Francko Mehrstein and some famous collectors and players around the world are now playing guitars that Martin repaired.
It is always an experience when Martin tells me the last guitar I asked him to repair is ready. Today I went to his shop to pick up an early 1950 F-
While driving to his place he called me and said I would be in for a surprise. My Busato was ready, close to a superb 1943 12 frets made by Busato with a superb body and a great sound, sent by a reputable collector and player from Japan. Martin’s reputation is established everywhere now and I might soon need to take my turn to have him repair one of my guitars.
Well, pictures are worth a million words. I bought a Busato body and its losange plate a couple of months ago and it needed a new neck. This was the second Busato neck that Martin made for me. You cannot recognize one made by Busato and one made by Martin, and the playability of Martin’s necks is incomparably better than Busato’s.
I was reading the other day that only one Stradivarius survived in its original condition. All the rest had new necks, sometimes new tops or backs, etc. So, a violin player does not object paying one million dollar for a Strad with a brand new neck. This fact is well documented in the litterature. It is often different with guitar players and many would rather have an all original Dupont made by an obscure worker in Maurice semi-
Back to Busato. Although Stradivarius and Busato are two names of equal quality and reputation.
Here are the picks of this guitar. It is the very best sounding guitar I ever had. I had two dozens Busatos, a superb d’Angelico, many Benedetto and more than 50 L7C, L5P and Super 400C. A couple of fabulous Joseph DI Elder and one Selmer for which Denis Chang fell and I believe he will never forgive me having sold it.
I hope you like the picks. This is truly an exceptional instrument and one of the most rare gypsy guitar ever made. It is a Special Busato Grand Model made in Cité Griset. The projection is insane and the balance is incredible. This is a superb sound machine. The top is cedar, and for connaisseurs cedar top are fabulous.
Look at Martin's fret jobs. He rounds the ends of the frets for maximum playing comfort.