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The DIY Musician: Freak of the Week — Barn Wood Tenor Guitar

I’m obsessed with weird and unusual guitars. If it has a strange shape, made from unusual materials or just looks like something from the Star Wars cantina band, I want it.

This week’s Freak of the Week comes from, a small parts and instrument company in New Hampshire.

They call this handmade tenor guitar the Sawyer’s Legacy. It features a soundboard made from wood from a 150-year-old Maine barn. You can still see the massive sawmill grooves burned in the surface! The back of the guitar has an even more interesting cross-cut saw pattern. Its primitive shape, similar to a cigar box guitar, seems to be the perfect choice as it shows off the wood in its original “plank” form.

I’ve played this instrument, and it’s like holding history in your hands. The barn wood soundboard and back are actually planed down so they’re thin and resonant. The sides are also made with complimenting barn wood. (Why aren’t more guitar makers using barn wood? Seriously…it’s not just for rustic furniture!) The most unusual aspect is the dual humbucker jazz pickups. Not anybody’s first choice for a rustic tenor guitar, but I love the ability to choose so many tones. There’s no pickup switch, just a blend knob. Nice touch.

One other detail I have to note is the top-mounted sound holes that are squarely directed toward the player. (See photo 3 in the gallery below.) Another unusual choice, but a definite plus if you’re playing this thing on the front-porch swing.

As the guitar industry moves toward more sustainable building materials, I hope they consider guitars like this; instruments made from wood containing years (centuries?) of kinetic energy from its former life. Who knows how many families worked the farm that the barn wood came from. Brutal Maine winters. Springtime calves and chickens. Courtin’ couples up in the hayloft…

Hell, there’s songs stuck inside barn wood!

At the time of this writing, the handmade Sawyer’s Legacy Tenor Guitar is still for sale for $550. If I can only get enough money from my tax refund! Sawyer’s Legacy Tenor Guitar by C. B. Gitty.

Stay primal!

Shane Speal is "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.

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