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3:45 p.m. Mon.-Fri.: Best Place to Spend $400 Making a Guitar Sound as If It's Worth $1,000 

John F. Mello, Luthier

So you're no Andrés Segovia, and your teenage days sequestered in your bedroom strumming along to Elvis Costello are behind you now. Still, you fancy yourself a guitar player and hope -- someday -- you'll either make it onstage at an open mic night, or at least play for friends willing to humor you around the campfire. Perhaps your current guitar -- a relic from high school music class or the Alameda Flea Market -- is tinny and brash, but you just can't justify the cost of a "good one." Well, John Mello has the solution. A crafter of high-quality guitars for thirty years, he not only makes professional level instruments -- both classical and steel string -- for a staggering but appropriate $6,000-$8,000, he also retrofits inexpensive Spanish and Canadian imports -- adjusting the actions, replacing the bridges, and shaving out the internal braces to achieve a gorgeous, rich timbre that sounds remarkably beautiful, all for a fraction of the cost of their acoustic equals. The difference, even to the amateur ear, is not subtle. And he'll even take trade-ins or tweak up your old guitar. Sure, your "Stairway to Heaven" still needs some work, but Mello's guitars can help you sound like the professional amateur you've always known you could be. Bring your kids by after school to encourage the next generation of folk singers. Call first.


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