Gibson, Fender, Fenlon?


Travis Fenlon working on his first guitar of the year. PHOTO BY JORDYN KULAWIK, RECORDER

Building guitars is one of the many projects a student can choose to do if they take wood shop; however, for junoir Travis Fenlon, building guitars isn’t just a wood shop project.

Fenlon was introduced to the idea of building guitars his freshman year, and once he started, he couldn’t stop.

“Mr. Jensen had told us that guitars were something that could be made and had been made in the past,” Fenlon said, “and ever since he said that I’ve been interested in it.”

The process starts with the sides of the guitar, then when they are bent, the sides are braces. Next to come together is the neck of the guitar and then the back. The last steps include the  production of the sound barrier in the top and finally the hardware. However, building the actual guitar is a little more complex than it might seem from these few steps.

“If you are in a school setting and you only have one shop class, or a few shop classes, then it would probably take a few months,” Fenlon said.

His guitars have won awards, including first place and Best in State at the Technology Students Association (TSA) competitions. The guitars were judged in size categories and awarded based on effort and time put into the project.

According to Fenlon, the guitars he makes are inspired by the design of other guitars, but there isn’t a specific model or company that he is influenced by. Currently he has completed one guitar and is planning on finishing two by the end of this year, among the others he has assisted with.

“I will keep the first one that I’ve made, keep the second one and probably sell the third one,” Fenlon said.

As a way to allow others a look at what he does, Fenlon has started a Facebook tutorial. The tutorial follows his progress day by day.

“I thought it would be cool to document the process,” Fenlon said, “so that if people can’t see my progress everyday, I’m giving them that outlet.”

He encourages others to get involved and do what they love. His advice to others: “Don’t get discouraged by mistakes.”

About McKenna Harford

McKenna Harford graduated in 2013. She was on the Recorder staff for three years, with her last two as assistant editor. She enjoys reading, writing, and riding horses. Email her at

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