Patchwork Blues

How to Make a Guitar

Hereís another glimpse into my process of creation.

After my successes with the Grand Piano and Red Violin II, I was searching for the next project. I was at a friendís house and saw her guitar sitting on a shelf. Perfect! The guitar was the first instrument I learned to play.

Before starting to construct my version of the instrument, I spent several days researching guitars to see how they are made. For this piece, I wanted the instrument to actually be playable with real strings. So, I needed to engineer the piece to be strong enough to support the taut strings.

(Yes, I know, there is only one string on this guitar. But, trust me, since taking this photo, I have attached all the strings.)



guitar1.jpg (216931 bytes) Like my other sculptured instruments, I used foam core as the structure. Using my friendís guitar as a model, I created two separate pieces for the front and the back of the body of the guitar. The front slides over the back like a snug fitting box lid.
inside-front-back.jpg (303316 bytes)

The sides of the body are foam core strips that are scored every inch or so to bend them to the correct shape. The sides are duct taped to the front and back body pieces.

head.jpg (269266 bytes)

pegs-back.jpg (181070 bytes)

Next I created the head and the neck. It canít bend, so I duct taped a flat metal bar along the entire neck, bending it where it meets the head. I glued some wood pieces on the head to give some support where the tuning pegs are attached. (Yes, these are real guitar tuning pegs purchased from Elderly Instruments.)
neck-support.jpg (253182 bytes)

body-frame.jpg (278030 bytes)

After covering with fabric, I attached the head and neck section into the body of the guitar. A bit more structural support was added to the body before the two halves were glued together. Then the entire piece was covered with my collaged music fabrics.
test-fit.jpg (245522 bytes) Once all the fabric is glued on, the fret board, the tuning pegs, the nut, and the bridge were added. Lastly, I attached the strings and I have made a guitar!

Now, for the most important question: does it play? Well, yes, but I donít think youíll want it for your next concert.

(Note: This piece is currently on display at the Art-A-Fair Festival in Laguna Beach, CA. Over the summer, many musicians perform for the patrons of this art show. I have allowed a privileged few to play my guitar and professional hands have actually been able to elicit sounds that could be construed as music. Unfortunately, the joint where the neck meets the body can bend inward giving the guitar a "wa-wa" sound. Although, I suppose that could be a feature.)


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