Does everyone play guitar?
Interestingly, no. Many students and teachers alike participate in guitar building because it is highly compelling and captivating. In his book Guitar Lessons, Taylor Guitars co-founder Bob Taylor describes the feeling of building his first guitar while a high school student as simply: love. In his book about this history of the company, Taylor admits to being only a fair guitar player. His experience is not unique. Many of the best guitars are built by students that don’t play the guitar. But completing the guitar sparks an interest to learn how, which is an endeavor with its own merits and rewards.
Does this activity have to be a class in school?
Not necessarily. Some schools build guitars as an after school club. Some schools incorporate guitar building into an existing class, such as a Manufacturing class.
Where do the guitar kits come from?
Guitar kits are packaged for all participating schools at Sinclair Community College, using components fabricated on-site and contributed by participating schools. Hardware and electronics components are purchased with special arrangement with manufacturers and distributors to the industry. By purchasing hardware in large quantities, we are able to offer guitar kits at extremely competitive prices. Price-checking on guitar parts websites will quickly reveal the significant advantage of ordering guitar kits through us.
Do we have to use your guitar kits?
No. By checking the storefront, you will notice several options of purchasing some of the hard-to-find components. If your school has the ability to fabricate necks and bodies, you can use our files to make necks and student-designed bodies, or bodies from our library.
How much does a kit cost?
Complete Kits are priced under $200. Hardware-only kits are priced under $150. Check the storefront for details.
You mention contributions by participating schools. Can we participate?
Absolutely! We are always on the lookout for schools that can contribute to the supply chain. Can your school make body blanks? Machine bodies or necks? Make fretboards? If so, we are interested in discussing how this can benefit your students.
I am a teacher. How much does it cost to attend a week-long workshop?
Between 2010 and 2012, a National Science Foundation grant has provided for over a dozen workshops held around the country. The grant brought in experienced educators well-versed in implementing guitar-related STEM curriculum as well as the nuts and bolts of guitar building. The grant also helped defray lodging expenses and provided a small stipend.
I am an administrator. Why should I send a teacher to this workshop?
Teachers that do this activity report that students are eager to attend the class. Students report that they see the relevance of their other classes as a result. Others report a new-found interest in engineering or science. Still others realize options for further vocational training. One particularly compelling case involved a student who was a chronic discipline problem that was likely to become a drop-out. When he enrolled in a class that was building guitars, several changes occurred. His behavior improved, he developed a passion for automotive painting, and graduated on-time with his peers with a career path in place. While that instance may be exceptional, we know that students often need a “hook” to keep them going to school…one thing that makes the rest of the day tolerable. This becomes that one thing for many students. Many schools are flooded with student requests for the class that builds guitars, and underclassmen are typically wait-listed. Many students want to take the class a second time! The materials that your teacher brings back to the classroom will make your school a richer place. The enthusiasm and excitement that your teacher WILL bring back with them will be shared with students. Excited, energized teachers excite and energize their students. In all the workshops we have conducted, we have had NO unhappy participants. Every teacher completes on-time, and every teacher is successful. Your students will too!
Is your curriculum aligned to my state standards?
Because the details of standards vary from state-to-state, we leave it to you, the professional educator, to identify the particular state standards addressed by various activities and learning experiences.
Isn’t this really a “shop” project?
Hardly! While some of the hands-on aspects of guitar-building do involve sanding, painting, and in general making a bit of a mess, the connections to the STEM areas can be made with students at every turn. Guitar building as a worthwhile academic pursuit has the endorsement of academic teachers at the high school and college level from around the country. The interaction with a tangible item, in this case, the guitar, reinforces STEM concepts in a way that mere pencil and paper assignments can not. Without acknowledging the STEM aspects of the guitar and understanding the role they play, it is not possible to successfully complete a guitar!
Do we need a lot of expensive tools and facility to build guitars?
No. Some basic hand tools or bench top tools that your school probably already possesses will be necessary. It is particularly useful to have a space where sanding, filing, and perhaps painting can take place. It is true that some specialty tools are required. A well-known luthiery-supply firm has packaged all the essential tools that we use at our week-long workshops for your school to purchase. With one catalog number, you’ll get exactly what you need, and nothing you don’t. Additionally, orders shipped to school addresses are eligible for a discount from this company.
The kits are too expensive for some of my students.
While not a question, this is a comment we hear sometimes. Time for you to get creative. At some schools, a variety of things have been done. Can the student build a guitar to sell off as a fundraiser? Does someone in the community want a guitar built that might front the kit cost? Would a business like to have a guitar built as a promotional item with the company logo and name incorporated into the design or finish? Perhaps the company can front the cost of the guitar kit. Can your school become part of the supply chain, making fretboards, bodies, or necks? This might be an opportunity to help your students earn their guitar kit. For a student who truly wants to participate, a solution may be right around the corner.