I happened to stumble across this picture of Jimmy Dodd with the Mousketeers, playing his old Martin guitar using a string as a strap, from a private party. This picture was taken before the famous Mousegetar was built by a Los Angeles luthier named Candelas.
As luck would have it, around the same time I acquired this photo, a new member joined the Tenor Guitar Registry and mentioned he owned two of Jimmy Dodd's tenor guitars! I immediately called up Erich Sylvester and he told me that the Jimmy Dodd archives were under the care of Dean Jeff Gaton at CalArts College in Valencia.
I made arrangements to visit the College with Mitchell de Jarnett, our TGF secretary, and view three of Jimmy's tenor guitars privately. I held the one in the picture, the Martin, and it was almost in tune. I had to tune the high string down a little bit. It was tuned in fifths. It was like a miracle. Three out of the four strings were still in relative tune to each other.
I had to play the Mickey Mouse Club March on Jimmy Dodd's Martin. I couldn't resist. It had been in storage for over fifty years. I can tell you there is no greater thrill for a "baby boomer" than to hold the guitar you saw on television as a five year old. I was beyond thrilled.
"The Mickey Mouse Club March" was one of many songs Jimmy wrote and played on his tenor guitar. You can tell he's a very accomplished player by watching how effortlessly he plays.
After the Martin tenor guitar came the Mousgetar. No one knows whose idea it was to have a Mousegetar built, but my guess is, it was Jimmy's.
In 1955 Candelas Instruments made the one Mousegetar. I was able to track down the current owner of Candelas Instruments, Thomas Delgado. He was anxious to see the Mousegetar his Uncle had created in 1955.
Jimmy Dodd would have enjoyed knowing that years after the Mickey Mouse Club, a Tenor Guitar Foundation would be created, and that foundation would recognize him as one of the most warm and endearing tenor guitar players who ever graced the planet.
There are many videos of Jimmy Dodd on YouTube, but this one is my favorite. He is presented by the Mousekateers with his new Mousegetar and then teaches them chords, tenor guitar chords. You can see that he is visualizing one day the Mousekateers, and all of the millions of kids watching the show, will be playing tenor guitars.
And I guess, many of them did.
Tenor Guitar Foundation, President