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Ben Fisher, a senior at Buckeye Valley High School, made an electric guitar based off of a Fender Stratocaster, in his shop class. Courtney Hergesheimer, The Columbus Dispatch The typical shop-class project didn’t appeal to Ben Fisher, a senior at Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware County. Book shelves, wine racks, small tables and, common in rural Ohio schools, gun racks, didn’t inspire him. But when Fisher, 18, heard that someone previously had crafted a guitar — an instrument he had learned to play for kicks — he asked his industrial technology teacher, Bob Hoak, about taking up a similar challenge for his senior project. “When Ben approached me, I said, ‘You have to be the go-to guy. I am the woodworker, but I am not the musician.'” Fisher, a member of the school’s football and swim teams who had been in an earlier shop class taught by Hoak, learned to play on a smaller Squier guitar, part of a lower-priced line of Fender guitars. just a girl who loves books face mask
Among his favorite artists: AC/DC, Metallica and Slayer. In his more than 40 years teaching the class, Hoak had others attempt to build a guitar, usually ending up with something that looked good but wasn’t always playable. Hoak had noticed a breakout change in Fisher this year. “Ben was sort of a middle-of-the-road kid, but he walked in this year on fire,” he said. “He knew his stuff, knew what he wanted.” Fisher, who likes working with his hands, has plans to study engineering. He doesn’t dispute Hoak’s assessment of him: “This class is definitely, like, the highlight of my day.” Fisher had previously built a longboard skateboard requiring two slabs of old barn wood, fusing them lengthwise to a clear epoxy midsection, allowing visibility through the board. The challenge of building an electric guitar, however, “kind of intrigued me,” he said. Begun in mid-November and completed this month, the guitar is no little ukulele or out-of-tune facsimile. It is a gleaming, fully playable, solid-body maple-and-rosewood instrument in the style of the famed Fender Stratocaster. Fisher and Hoak estimate that it took the equivalent of two 40-hour weeks of labor to complete.
Materials — including wood, a pre-slotted fret board, mother-of-pearl inlays and electronics and tuning machines — cost him about $300. Everything was crafted using simple templates, including a precision-hewn bone nut, which, along with the bridge, is vital to maintaining string height over the frets and preventing string “buzzing.” Buckeye Valley’s shop has a laser engraver, and Fisher etched his last name — now his “brand” — using the iconic Fender logo typeface on the headstock, where the tuning machine heads are. The strings were added on Feb. 5, marking the guitar’s birthday. “I was definitely a little nervous … But I knew we wired it up pretty good, and all of the parts I was using were good, so I figured it would be all right,” Fisher said. He plays several times a week, sometimes with friends. “It sounds pretty good,” Fisher said. “It’s pretty crazy. Sometimes I’ll look at it and say, ‘Wow, I made that …’
“With a little help,” he is quick to add. So what does a professional luthier — the name for someone who makes stringed instruments — think? “For a first run, excellent. With not a lot of outside help, fantastic.” said Chase Gullet, the owner of Gullet Guitars, a custom guitar and repair shop in downtown Delaware. Gullet has been an adviser to Fisher, but guiding him with advice only. “He did a lot of advanced things that experienced luthiers might not try,” said Gullett, citing as examples his decision to make a wooden pick guard and cutting and shaping the nut himself. Gullet got him started on the finish, a multistep process of varnishes and paint that created the cherry sunburst look. Gullet is wary of placing a value on handmade guitars, especially from first-time craftsmen, but he said a guitar similar in quality and playability could sell in the $1,500 range. What’s more impressive is Fisher’s value as an employee. He is now an apprentice at Gullet’s shop. “It’s crazy how it turned out,” Fisher said. “Especially for my first guitar.” [email protected] @DeanNarciso just a girl who loves books face mask
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