High-End Guitar Maker Relocates to Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/20/06

High-End Guitar Maker Relocates to Savannah

Jazz played on Benedetto guitars accompanied the announcement. Jazz played on Benedetto guitars accompanied the announcement.

When Savannah's economic development community rolls out the red carpet to welcome a new manufacturer to town, and the mayor presents the key to the city, it's not often the announcement comes with jazz music. Unless, of course, that's the business the manufacturer is in.

"We announced Benedetto Guitars choosing Savannah as their new home," Rick Winger of the Savannah Economic Development Authority told us at Trustees Theater Thursday. "They'll be headquartered here, manufacturing here. And it's just another example of a great, quality company choosing us."

The international high-end guitar maker doesn't exactly mass produce. Once they reach full production in a few years, they expect to ship about a 110 to 120 hand-made guitars a month, starting at a few thousand dollars each up to over $80,000 for custom jobs.

"Within the factory environment, there will be a small custom shop segment, that will be one-of-a-kind instruments made by me personally," said guitar maker Bob Benedetto.

Originally from the Northeast, Benedetto looked at opening shop in music mecca Nashville and bustling Atlanta. Why Savannah?

"It just feels right," he said. "It's a vibe, I think. It's kind of part of what we do. It's a music thing, it's an artsy thing. It just, it fits, it feels right."

And local leaders say that's why this won't be the last master craftsman to hit town. They say when a successful and creative company like this picks Savannah when it could have gone anywhere, it sends a very strong message to other companies that this is a great place to do business.

Benedetto expects to ship his first Savannah-made guitars in January. The company will ultimately employ 45 or 50 people, some of whom are likely to be recruited and trained locally, though Benedetto will bring in experienced craftsmen from elsewhere.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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