A Gift of a Lifetime

Beautiful Fiddles……handcrafted by Mr. Arnold Layne of Arkansas

Yesterday brought quite a highlight to Emily’s entire music career………..she was given what you would call, “the gift of a lifetime.”  A dear friend Mr. Arnold Layne of Bentonville, Arkansas told Emily he wanted to give her one of his handcrafted fiddles!  She was completely overwhelmed at this act of kindness and she is tremendously honored to now own one of these masterpieces!!!  Even more beautiful is the friendship and kind heart of Mr Arnold Layne and his sweet wife, Mrs. Erma Dean.  He has made 158 fiddles thus far!!!  When we arrived at their home, he had what looked like more fiddles than I had ever seen at one place and at one time laying out for her to begin choosing between, but then he opened the closet and then another closet…….only to reveal more fiddles!!!  With dozens and dozens to choose from, you will not be surprised to hear that we were in that room for probably close to 3 hours………just listening to Emily play one fiddle after the other!!!………….

Emily, Mr. Layne and Sarah………..Mr. Layne showing them one of the fiddles

………………………………….He has made a fiddle out of nearly every wood you could think of!!!  Some from woods out of Africa or a distant state, to some made from a special piece of wood that was redeemed from a dilapidated barn…………………………a story behind each one…………….

Each a Story

……….  What an amazing legacy!…………………………………………………………………………………….

Trying it out

Emily wanted Sarah to play some of the fiddles for her so she could stand back and listen objectively and they did some twin fiddles too…………………………..

Twin fiddles testing out the sound

Here is Mr. Layne showing the grain on the back of one of his fiddles…….very unique

Mr. Layne and a gorgeous fiddle

I have no idea how he remembers all the woods and the stories from where they came from………………………….Here is the some history  of how Mr. Layne began playing and making fiddles, in his own words………

“I started trying to play the fiddle when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My Dad was a real good old time fiddler and he taught me a couple of old tunes. I remember the first one he called it sail away ladies.And then I just went from there on my own. I made my first fiddle when I was 14 years old. The top and back was made from an old apple box that was real thin. And the sides I made out of an old piece of oak that I cut out in the woods. I drove a lot of nails in the circle on my Dads smoke house door and used a draw knife we had to thin the strips down for the sides. Then I started bending the strips and driving nails on the outside of the strips to hold them in shape until they dried. Then I made the neck out of the same block of oak and glued it all together. then made a fingerboard and tail piece,end pin and pegs. I used a piece of bailing wire for the tail piece to fasten on to the end pin. And I played that fiddle for some time until I got married. I was 17 when that happened. Would love to have that old fiddle now but it burned in a house fire. But I always wanted to make fiddles but I had a family that I had to make a living for. We had a pretty good band in the early 50’s. Got to open for Porter Wagner. And played the music for Bobby Lord show one time. I made a few fiddles in the 80’s mostly for my kids and grandkids. But when I retired I really started making them. And all my fiddles are my own pattern and a lot of my tools I use I have made them. But I have enjoyed it so much.  I have had a lot of good times playing music.”…….

Official Fiddle Inspectors:)

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Mr. Layne and Emmy examining the choices

Eventually it was narrowed down to 3 fiddles!!!  Considering we started with dozens and 3 hours of looking ……………..this was quite an accomplishment!!!!:):)  Then it was a long time of playing those 3 over and over and considering each difference  in tone…………………..

Hmmmmm:)……which one?!

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I believe a choice has been made:):)…………………………………………….

Finally………………………………….THE FIDDLE was selected!:)………………Emmy chose one with a knotty pine top with the rest of the body being cherry.  This fiddle also has gorgeous inlay work on the fingerboard, chin rest and tailpiece!!!

Mr. Layne, Emmy and her brand new fiddle!!!

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Beautiful Inlay

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The Gift of a Lifetime

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One happy girl with one amazing fiddle!!!

The Laynes always keep track of where all the fiddles go………….so Emmy gave them our info and Mrs. Layne wrote down the variety of wood it was built out of, so we will not forget!

Exchanging info with Mrs. Erma Dean

Emmy’s new fiddle is number 52 out of 158…………………………………………………………………………………….

Mr. Layne getting the number out of the inside of the fiddle

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A new fiddle going to a new home:):):)

After the lengthy decision making process:)……………….we were all hungry!!!……………..So, we went out with the Laynes to one of our favorite restaurants in Arkansas!!!…………This is one that we used to go to when we lived in Arkansas and this brought back great memories!  This is Catfish John’s Fish House!!!…………………..Yum! Yum!

All of our crew with Mr. and Mrs. Layne at Catfish John’s!

We love you Mr. and Mrs. Layne!  Thank you so much for the blessing and encouragement you have been to us!  If you are interested in purchasing one of Mr. Arnold Laynes fiddles, you can contact him at  …………………….

aelayne@cox.net

Thank you Mr. Layne for giving Emily Grace ” the gift of a lifetime”……..I want to share this quote with y’all in closing.

…..“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
John Bunyan

…………………………Lindsay