Why I build guitars

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Art, Music, Rant

Hmmmm… the big question…
Why do I build guitars??

Well, it started off all the way back in year 9 of high school, in 1996. We were allowed to choose any project we wanted in woodwork, provided that it was made from Pinus Radiata (Pine). I decided, as my parents still refused to get me my own electric guitar, that I would build one.

After researching for all of 5 minutes, I knew that Pine was not an option, so went and bought my own timber from the local timber yard.

After telling the teacher what I wanted to build, and with countless knock-backs and “it’s too hard, you can’t do it” types of comments, I was more determined than ever!

I took my timber to the music department, traced the shape of a Fender Strat onto the timber, and had it cut out back in the workshop.

My main problems were about to materialise, in the form of classmates who were stuck making hall tables and clocks. They were pissed that I got to build something awesome, even though the option was there for them, they decided to stick with the fall-back options.

My guitar was then set upon with a hammer, a few chisels, some nails, and I believe someone even tried to light it with deodorant and a lighter. Originally I had planned to keep it bare timber, but after the damage, and the repairs required, bare wood grain was no longer an option.

Over the years, I kept tinkering with this guitar, putting it away, taking it out again etc.

A few years ago I was in the local music store, and decided I wanted to get an electric guitar. I asked how long it would take to order one in as a left-handed model, and was promptly told “about 12-16 weeks”. I jokingly said to the guy “I could build one quicker than that!” and he replied “I bet you can’t”…

It was on, like Donkey Kong…

I sweetened the bet by saying “I will build one, and if I finish before this one comes in on order, I won’t buy it, but if I am not finished, then I will buy it” so we had a deal.

I built the Stratocaster (with Vintage specs) in 12 weeks. By the time the guitar had arrived, I was half way into my second guitar… the Telecaster. A deal was a Deal, so I did not buy the electric guitar, however I did get a lot of my components and parts from him, so he still made a fair amount of $$ from me!

Since building the set of three, I have started and almost finished a Brian May replica (Queen’s guitarist, who hand made his guitar of Queen infamy at the age of 12) and also I have completed a Van Halen Frankenstrat (both Left-Handed of course!)

Photos are available on my facebook, and website, if anyone is interested…

So, getting back to my original question of “why do I build guitars?”

I build them, because firstly, I have been told it is too hard. Secondly, because as a left-hander, I am sick of being told that I have to wait for something, and then, only getting to pick from a choice of 3 styles and colours, compared to a right-handers options of about 10,000… and Thirdly, because I enjoy music, I enjoy creating things with my hands, feeling the satisfaction of completing one, and knowing that it may well outlast my life, and of course the biggest reason of all…

Because I can…



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