Perryville High guitar building class going strong in second year
Anthony Devor, a sophomore, rounds the edges of his Flying V-style guitar. email@example.com
— On recent Wednesday afternoons, a grating, mechanical sound has seeped into the high school’s first floor back hallway. There’s nothing especially musical about it, though in fact it’s coming from several guitars.
They’re not being strummed or picked, however. They’re being built.
David Hollis, who’s taught at Perryville High School for 11 years now, started an after-school electric guitar building club last year after receiving a grant for it from the Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council (BEPAC). That money goes toward purchasing the wood used for the bodies of the seven guitars in the works now, he said. Students still pay for the gear they install to it.
But even if a student orders quality gear for their instrument, the overall cost for the guitar is significantly lower — somewhere near $100, per a few students there — than if they bought one already assembled. And that’s key for a few members of the club.
“I want to learn [how to play],” said Giordano Bowers, a senior. “I’ve always wanted one; it was just too expensive.”
The students start by choosing a design, and the majority, it seemed, chose from the iconic shapes. There were bodies modeled after the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster and bodies modeled after the Gibson Les Paul. A couple even modeled the Gibson Flying V.
“This is the first year we’ve done [the Flying V’s],” Hollis said. “I don’t know how it’s going to work out.”
Sophomore Anthony DeVor was making one of them. He was also in the club last year, but said he made the mistake of mixing designs, which resulted in a Les Paul body with a Stratocaster pick guard. That mishap won’t happen again, he said.
Curiously enough, others in the club recognized DeVor as the only person there with experience playing the instrument (he’s played for about four years, he said). Others, like Bowers and junior Zari Hicks, wanted to learn on the guitars they were building.
Originally, Hicks was also part of last year’s guitar building club, but dropped out midway and never finished her instrument. She used to play clarinet and sees this club as an opportunity to learn to play another instrument. Hollis is learning with them. Before he built his first guitar with fellow Perryville High teacher Tim Myers in spring 2014, he had no idea how to play. Since then he’s been learning in part with the help of Rocksmith, a video game that requires its users to play through songs with an actual guitar.
And Hollis’s knowledge of guitar building has opened other doors for him. Instead of giving monetary payment to someone who recently completed contract work for him, for example, he’s building him a high-quality guitar.
The seven students in the club were at different stages of construction during the meeting last Wednesday. Some were still in the process of cutting out the body, others were getting ready to carve out space for the body’s electrical components.
A laid back mood held the room, with students using machinery or waiting for their turn, and Hollis making his rounds to help.
“We’re trying to get stuff done by Christmas, but if we don’t, it’s not a big deal,” he said.
Students at Perryville High School work on their guitars last Wednesday afternoon.
Perryville High School teacher Dave Hollis shows the first guitar he built back in spring 2014. He’s used the knowledge gained from building that one to help students build their own in an after-school club.
Junior Logan Taylor traces a Stratocaster template onto his wood blank.