A few years back, I was involved in a little accident with a shear at the design studio in which I was working. It wasn’t anything too bad, but I lost the very tip of an index finger. It was very sensitive as it was healing up, and I quickly realized that it would be a while before I could play my acoustic guitar again. I was poor, but had a good amount of woodworking tools, so I started looking into what it would take to build myself an electric guitar. ( For those non-guitarists out there, electric guitar strings don’t require nearly the same force to play, so I thought this might be a solution.)
I also started looking into using nylon strings, because they are a bit softer then the metal strings that electric guitars use. I then started looking into what it would take to make an electric guitar with nylon strings. Now for those who don’t know, electric guitars use magnetic pickups to “pickup” the vibrations of the metal strings, so nylon strings won’t work with standard electric guitar pickups. That’s when I discovered piezo pickups.
I spent a couple years in R&D working with inkjet printheads that use piezo technology to I understand a bit about them, but print heads work completely opposite of piezo pickups, so I had a bit to learn, but I decided to give it a try anyways. I’m glad I did.
My first guitar design (RG1) turned out a little smaller, lighter, and not as unique as I was hoping for, but it was playable. As I was working on it, I got the chance to build a couple other guitars as display pieces, so I got a couple other chances to “practice” building guitars that would probably never be played. And with the first couple out of the way, I refined my design, applied the lessons I’d learned from them, and came out with my next design.
The first RG5 was my 4th complete build, and it turned out exactly as I hoped. The guitar looks great, feels great, plays great, and sounds great. I was so happy with it, in fact, that I built one for my dad with a different sound hole design, and helped my brother build one with yet another sound hole design (you can see all three below).
I used pre-built necks for each of the models I’ve previously built, and have all the supplies I need to build another guitar, so over the summer I will be building another one, including the neck, and documenting the process on this blog. And who knows, I might even look into what it would take to do a giveaway when it’s all done.