I wanted to be a rock star!
When I was in junior high school, known as middle school now, I learned to play the guitar. Like most young men of the sixties, I wanted to be a rock star. My older brother, Leif also bought a guitar and we would practice different cords and simple songs. I can remember lying in bed and playing the base part for In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly over and over again. Some how I thought that if I played that short rip over and over again it would magically make me a great guitar player and rock star. Clearly, I was wrong.
I practiced a lot on my own, with my brother and I even got together with friends at school and jammed, but my progress was very slow. I could tell fairly quickly that I did not have music in my soul and if I did, it wasn’t coming out through my fingers. I was a pitiful guitar player, but I never gave hope up until I was fifty.
When I was fifty, my youngest son, Marcus, started playing the guitar. In three weeks he was a better guitar player than me. At first I tried to learn stuff from him, but I was like a monkey trying to read a map. I love my son, but he was the one who crushed my dream of becoming a rock star. Oh yes, even at fifty I still harbored the glories hope. Within a very short time he was so good, so much better than me, that I realized I had been harboring a ridicules dream and I put the guitar aside for good.
Although, I could not play the guitar with him, I still wanted to be part of the guitar experience, so I suggest to him that we make a hard body, electric guitar. He loves playing the guitar and he loves a good project, so he was an easy sell. We did some research and decided that Alder, Mahogany or Maple would work well. One afternoon we took a drive up the canyon to a mill that offered varieties of wood for sale. We found a nice piece of Maple that we thought would work well. The price was $80.00, so we drove to Home Depot and bought some cheap fir.
Marcus did most of the research on how professionals make guitars and I figured out how us non-professionals would make one. Of course we had to buy pots and pickups and controls and turning tuner things, but we managed to find everything, most of it in our little town of Stayton at a small place that repaired stringed instruments.
I don’t remember all the details of how we put the guitar together, but here are some of the things I do remember.
The first thing we had to do was glue a bunch of 2X2s together with one 2×4 in the middle for the neck. After the glue was dry, we cut out the shape of the guitar, designed by Marcus, and rounded the edges with a belt sander. To stiffen the neck so it wouldn’t bow when the strings were tightened, we reinforced the neck with a metal rod. To install the electronics, pickups and pots we routered out the face of the guitar. To cover the electronic we cut a piece of plexi-glass a shape that would cover it all. Marcus carefully painted the word “gitfiddle” on the back of the plexi and then we sprayed the backside of the plexi black. We paint on the back of the plexi so that when strumming the guitar, the pick wouldn’t wear off the paint. F.Y.I, gitfiddle is the redneck way of saying guitar.
The fingerboard we made out of some oak I had sitting around and the frets were made out of welding rod. We decided where the frets would be located on the fingerboard, we guessed, and we cut fine groves with a hack saw to insert and glue the welding rod frets in place. We installed the turning tuning things and did some other minor details, fire it up and it played.
Marcus said he liked the tone, it looked pretty cool and it sound very good, but only when he played it. Fun project!