Assistant Librarian Mr Jamie Jones dismantled one of his own guitars during a recent Design Technology lesson so students could see how it was constructed. He brought along three electric guitars and components and explained about the history of the instrument that originated in the early 1950s, as well as the different components, finishes and accessories available.
Mr Jones first became interested in guitars as a teenager and has worked as a session musician, recorded an album and still plays regularly in a local band. Over the years he has owned up to 40 guitars teaching himself how to build, customise and maintain them.
He showed the Year 11 students his Telecaster and said: ’The actual basic design has not changed in 60 years. As I understand it Fender originally built radios and televisions and weren’t making enough money so they thought they would try and build guitars. They have become one of the most enduring companies in the industry. The first mass produced production line guitar was Fender’s Broadcaster, renamed the Telecaster in 1951 and it is probably one of the most enduring icons of rock and roll history.’
He showed students components including the body, neck, bridge, pickups, switches and scratchplates and explained the design principles behind all of them as it is information they will need for an extended piece of their GCSE exam.
After the lesson, which included a question and answer session, Mr Jones said: ‘I loved the interaction with the students. I only got into modifying and rebuilding my guitars because when you chuck your stuff in and out of a van things crop up that need fixing and technicians are expensive. It is a very basic bit of equipment. You can get books on it and there are lots of forums on the internet.
‘If I go and buy a quality instrument that has been built in the States it will cost me a minimum of £1,500 to £2,000. I can build an instrument to the same quality for £500. Self builds are a recession instrument for people who haven’t got money. A lot of people spend stupid money on guitars but what makes an instrument beautiful is its imperfections, the places where the lacquer has rubbed off or where the neck has worn into a certain comfortable playing position.’