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ETSU student's pink ribbon guitar to be auctioned

Rex Barber • Sep 24, 2012 at 9:47 PM

“Play for the Cure” could be the mantra for whoever bids high enough to acquire what is likely the only pink ribbon electric guitar in the world at a charity auction today for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Andrew Smith, an East Tennessee State University student in Bill Hemphill’s manufacturing technology course that teaches how to build an electric guitar from scratch, began his pink ribbon instrument in the fall 2011 semester. He was putting the final touches on it Monday and tuning it.

The instrument turned out great, he said after belting out the introduction to Collective Soul’s December.

“The functionality is really great,” he said. “As a design perspective, it really came out great. I love the way it plays and I wanted to do kind of a Gibson style with these bridges and the humbuckers, which it makes a really nice clear sound. It’s overall a very warm sound.”

The auction is scheduled for today at The Virginian in Bristol, Va.

Of course, the guitar is not made out of pink ribbons, rather the body of the piece was carved in the shape of a breast cancer awareness ribbon out of a hunk of extremely rare and expensive pink ivory wood.

“We thought it would be really, really cool if we actually made a guitar that was shaped in the ribbon, so to speak,” Smith said.

Smith carved eight different prototypes out of foam and other softer and less expensive woods to make sure he had everything correct before routing the body from the pink ivory, because one mistake there and the instrument was ruined.

“This wood is so rare it’s not even funny,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to make something this size as a blank because the heartwood, the pink, the tree rots from the inside out so in turn you have of course have cracks and some imperfections which I think gives it great character.”

Smith learned a lot about the manufacturing process for a guitar while making this instrument. He also has a new healthy respect for custom instruments.

“There’s a lot of details which I now appreciate, why really good guitars, why they’re priced like they are,” he said. “The amount of detail you have to go through, it’s just insane.

“This is the only pink ribbon guitar in the world, that I know of,” Smith said. “I really hope that it brings a lot for the foundation. It gave me a chance to do something that was bigger than myself, so to speak. It really gave me a chance to show what I could do... or show what we could do here at ETSU; what the possibilities are with the equipment that we have.”

For more information on the ETSU electric guitar-making program, visit etsu.edu/guitars or search Facebook for “ETSU Guitar Building.”

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