Blog: Creating the perfect travel guitar

GSA Roberta Wells sent this in in response to our question of how GSAs are staying busy. She’s been helping out with her husband’s labor of love.

Brian (husband) has played guitar since his teens, was part of a couple of Rock ‘n Roll bands in High School. He recently revived that interest, dusted off his old baby blue Fender and practiced for himself and occasionally entertained the neighborhood. Later he was inspired when we visited a music store that sold “cigar box” guitars which he’d never seen before.

He’s always been a woodworker, but a new ambition emerged after that trip to the music store. Could he translate his shop skills into making a guitar? He started with a 3 string “license plate” guitar, then advanced to make a 4 string “cigar box” guitar. Both of these projects were to gain some expertise in making the guitar necks which is a very precise process. They required much more refined measurements while working with some materials he never worked with before. [Did you know the “nut” of the guitar which is that plastic looking white piece at the top of the guitar neck where the strings are channeled through is actually made from a piece of cow bone?].

Having been successful with the license plate and cigar guitars, he next moved onto a “travel” guitar. Something that would fit inside a medium sized suitcase so he could continue playing/practicing while on vacation. What makes this instrument a bit unique is that it has a full sized neck but in order to get the necessary string length they actually wrap around to the back of the guitar. And yes, it fit in his suitcase on our most recent vacation.

The next step was to attempt a solid body 6 string guitar. He started by using the specifications for a 1950’s model Fender Telecaster as his model. The goal was to make a guitar that as closely resembled that instrument as he could. Simultaneously he made a few design modifications to make a slightly smaller guitar highlight the imperfections of some natural wood.

I am happy to say I get to enjoy both the beauty of his creations and the music he plays daily using them.