Shop class was never like this in high school. This past semester, 12 students in Prof. Mark Kimbrough's industrial-design class in UH's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture have been working on a pretty hip class project: creating their own custom electric guitar to rock, blues or jazz specifications, with the assistance of the folks at Collings Guitars.
The students have been traveling back and forth all semester between Houston and the Collings factory in Austin, where they have been working under the guidance of advisers including company founder Bill Collings himself. This is no easy feat, either; one student spent several days sanding her guitar to get the finish exactly right. Supposedly some had been sleeping under their desks as the deadline approached, too.
"It's been quite a spectacular experience for everyone involved," says Kimbrough via the UH Media Office.
At 7 p.m. tonight in the Hines College's atrium (Entrance 18 off Elgin Blvd.), journeyman Texas musician Van Wilks and UH jazz-guitar professor Michael Wheeler will test out the students creations in a free concert. UH spokesman Mike Emery was kind enough to ask several of the students to send us a few words about their creations.
I started researching the truss rod and found that if I used a material that's strong enough, I can actually remove it. That's how I came up with this loop design.
CHRISTY GONZALES Sadly, Gonzales was unavailable for comment. Still, what a good-looking axe.
LINDSAY LAHAUG Sadly, Lahaug was also unavailable for comment. But that is a beautiful guitar.
Everything in my guitar runs in one single line ... all the way from the top of the fret board down to its back. All of the wiring runs straight through it. I was actually complimented by one of the guys at the Collings factory. He thanked me for making it so easy for them to finish.
More guitars on the next page.
My guitar is based on Robert Johnson's legendary "Crossroads" story. I took the classic guitar form that he would have played and modernized it a bit. It has a hidden pick-up, so that it's a bit of a mystery...to compliment the story. It has a bit of a darker sound, more bluesy.
SELUGA SEKA SEKANWAGI
I extracted the F hole and went with high fashion aesthetics...some coming from the dye care treatment I used for the finish. I liked the contrast between the warmth of the wood and the black.
I was inspired by Jimmy Page's Black Beauty Les Paul, but used a different shape. It was an aesthetic choice on my part.
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