Nick Apollonio’s guitars

I don’t remember writing this story in 1974. I don’t remember meeting Nick Apollonio, and I don’t know if I went down to Camden to interview him or if I simply talked to him on the telephone.  But I did look him up via Google and it seems that he’s still in the Camden area and still making guitars that musicians value very highly. He was 27 when I wrote this story, and that would make him 67 now – my age. As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog, Maine was an absolute treasure trove of interesting people doing great things. Kind of a writer’s paradise.

Camden man is specialist in guitars

CAMDEN, Maine (UPI) – The guitars that Nick Apollonio makes are fashioned out of redwood or cedar on the second floor of a barn that overlooks the rocky coast.

The six and 12-string instruments have been coming out of Apollonio’s shop, one at a time, since 1968. He says they are about the best that can be found anywhere.

“I specialize in 12-strings, because I found I could make a good tone,” he said. But Apollonio also makes six-string guitars, dulcimers, and he recently completed his first fiddle.

“I did a fiddle last February, and that was great,” he said. “I used a redwood top with a walnut body, and it sounds excellent.” Violins are usually made out of maple, with spruce tops.

Apollonio is 27, and the guitar shop, which he calls The Works, got underway in 1968, right after he got out of college.

“I got into it slowly,” he said. “When I was a teenager, I learned to play the electric guitar and later on developed an interest in folk music, to the point where I wanted my own guitar.

“A friend of mine, Gordon Bok, had two excellent guitars, one of which he had made, and he convinced me that I should try to make one,” he said. “It was so simple that I thought it was worth a try.”

The first two or three guitars came out sounding pretty good.

“Somebody gave me an order, and a little later on I just went ahead and opened the shop. I sold about 12 instruments that first summer,” he said.

One of Apollonio’s instruments was made for Paul Stookey, formerly with the Peter Paul and Mary group.

The guitars can be made to produce different tones and the finish can be simple or elaborate. The instruments cost anywhere from $100 to $700.

“The difference is tone, playability and the detail that goes into it,” he said.

Most of the orders have resulted from word of mouth and most come from the New England area, although Apollonio has received orders from as far away as California and Louisiana.

Apollonio says he wants to get into making stringed instruments which are played in the Balkans.

“The Ukranians and the Greeks use all kinds of little stringed instruments for their dances, and I’m curious about them,” he said.