No. 2000 Morgan

In 2007, David Iannone saw the Morgan No.2000 on the horizon – a pretty remarkable milestone for a small shop building handmade guitars. He decided he’d celebrate the event by making something special, something beyond anything he had ever built before. It had to be exciting. It had to be a celebration. Like all his guitars, it had to be simple and elegant – and it had to tell a special story.

Over the next two years, a vision would come to life.

The M2K would be constructed from nothing but the best. David had been unknowingly collecting the ingredients for years. Some rare black African ebony he’d been saving would form the back and sides. Northern Vancouver Island Bearclaw Sitka spruce for the top. A neck from the finest example of flamed South American mahogany. Curly koa binding from Hawaii. The nut and saddle made from ivory of fossilized mammoth tusk.

To help tell the story, he enlisted longtime friend and designer Patrick Pothier, creator and engraver of many Morgan peghead and fingerboard inlays for more than 20 years. Long discussions of images and ideas eventually led to a master drawing that would serve as the story’s template. 225 individual pieces of mother of pearl and abalone would be hand cut, inlaid and engraved to create a painting in ebony and shell.

It was more work than either man could have ever imagined. David cut pearl every night for months – 200 saw blades’ worth. Patrick’s engraving skills and endurance were put to the test. He created new jigs and a workspace for the countless hours of exacting engraving the project would require. He even designed a special tool for creating perfectly round eyeballs. Every piece was carefully planned and placed. There was never any rush. It was an exercise in patience, process, and perfection.

“It was like a sauce reduction. A whole bunch of amazing ingredients, simmering, simmering, until we were finally left with the essence.”
The result is the Morgan 2000, Elephant Watching Dancers – a title as painterly and poetic as the work itself. It’s a stunning work that pays respect to the inspiration and ingredients of a guitar and its makers.

A collaboration of two artists and their influences, the scene is a graceful amalgamation of both Patrick and David’s views. The Coast Mountains of David’s North Vancouver backyard meet the lush tropical rainforests inspired by Patrick’s travels around the world. There are elephants and exotic birds, hearty loggers and a silver mountain stream. It’s a story drawn from the minds and memories of both men, one that also pays an elegant tribute to the planet that has generously provided the guitar’s materials.

That’s David at his workbench with the monkey. It’s the end of another hard day’s work (a big barrel overflowing with Morgan logos is proof) and it’s time to celebrate. Enter dancers and musicians! (A tuba, no less!) Patrick’s there, on the bridge, helping his lady disembark from their dory. They too have come to celebrate. It’s a remarkable scene, literally glowing with the magnitude of the achievement.

The wildlife is actually Morgan history. Birds, bats, and elephants have all graced earlier guitars. Look closely and you’ll find a Morgan horse, an inlay that crowned a couple dozen Morgan pegheads in the early nineties.

And the monkey? Ask David about it, and each time, he’ll tell you something different.

“Today I think of him as my black lab, Beauty, who for 13 years, used to lie on my floor while I worked. An old friend who loved to chase a ball, who would have loved to help out but couldn’t…”

Flip it to the guitar’s front side and the scene simplifies. David’s monkey now watches peacefully as his master stands on his workbench, carefully placing this very special Morgan M. The other monkeys climb the fretboard; they seem to have their own plan for the glowing ball. Ask Patrick, and he’ll say the monkeys represent the unexpected in everyday life.

Well, that’s how the story goes today, anyway. Tomorrow and time will bring new meaning. Its glowing plot twists dramatically, depending on the light. Like any fine music, its layers are deep, with something new to be discovered with each visit. It’s David’s hope that this guitar will inspire others to create their own relationships with the characters, imbue them with their own meaning. He’s very proud of the work, and what it represents.

“Everything is just as perfect as we can make it. Topnotch materials. Workmanship. The fit, the finish, everything.”

What will he do with it? He doesn’t really know. He’s already turned down lucrative offers. There’s talk of an auction, or a lottery. All he knows is that it has to end up in the right hands. A guitar made with this much love has to be cared for properly.

We’ll keep you posted.

Apr 2, 2011