Ready-made riff­ing

Per­ryville High gui­tar build­ing class go­ing strong in sec­ond year

Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R - By JOE ANTOSHAK

An­thony Devor, a sopho­more, rounds the edges of his Fly­ing V-style gui­tar. jan­toshak@ches­

— 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.

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