The story of Bob Stafford's bender design and how it inspired the 3Bender. The 3Bender hardware design is quite different from the Stafford bender design and all other b-bender designs, but without these other benders, the 3Bender would not exist.
As a life-long guitar player, I have always been interested in innovative players and unusual instruments. Guitar playing has always been a hobby. In my (first) career, I was able to travel along a road that was originally built and paved by leaders of the industrial world. They were also leaders that immensely valued business and personal relationships. My interests in innovative instruments and cool machinery seemingly started to merge when I met Bob Stafford.
Bob wanted to play pedal steel guitar licks on his six string guitar. He had worked as a fabricator at an aerospace plant and had an outstanding mechanical understanding of how things work. However, he had never seen a B-bender or a G-bender guitar. After he retired from aerospace, he designed, built and patented a device that could bend 3 strings so that he could carry just one instrument to the gig. Over the next 30 years, he built, modified and sold about 30 guitars.
I had just started experimenting with a B-bender guitar when a listing for a Stafford Bender guitar appeared on Reverb in 2016 for $285 +$40 shipping. I was fascinated by the machine work on the bridge of this listed guitar. I think I studied that listing for about 15 minutes before I bought it. After playing the guitar, I had to know more...
Bob lives in Locust Grove, OK, and he’s not easy to find. But I am tenacious, and I eventually found someone on YouTube demonstrating a Stafford Bender and reached out to them. Luckily, they knew how to reach Bob. A few phone calls later, we agreed to meet and we quickly became friends. Bob’s interest in music and guitars is similar to mine. He comes from a different era, but we both share a deep appreciation for great music and outstanding musicianship.
A few months after we met, Bob offered to sell me the tooling he used to make his bender guitars. Jumping forward to 2018: My wife and I sold our industrial business. We transitioned from the electric motor business to working on guitars and guitar accessories. It has been a rewarding journey. Bob’s original bender design has been refined and redesigned, and I have been attending classes at The Chicago School of Guitar Making. The support and encouragement that we have received from old friends, new friends, and family has been moving and heartwarming. We hope you will join us on the journey…whether you decide to try a 3Bender or just catch up with us on the blog.
- Wade, 3Bender Founder