Power Play: John Burgess’ Hockey Stick Guitar

It’s not unusual to find a guitar with a “hockey stick” headstock, but a guitar made out of actual hockey sticks is an entirely different matter.

For luthier and lifelong hockey fan John Burgess of London, Ontario, it made perfect sense to build a guitar body out of the implements, although doing it proved more difficult than scoring a goal against Henrik Lundqvist.

“Most players use composite sticks now,” Burgess says. “Wooden sticks are a rarity, so I had to visit many arenas in London to find enough sticks to make the guitar. Then I needed to plane three sides of each stick so I had bare wood to work with, place a layer of birch between the sticks so the body was thick enough, and fabricate a special clamp that could apply pressure from all sides. Because I didn’t want to paint the body, I had to be exact with every cut I made.”

The guitar’s hockey-oriented features include a control cover made from a Truro Bearcats puck and a Fender-style headstock that Burgess reshaped and taped to resemble a stick blade. He also fabricated a custom Floyd Rose tone block out of steel and added a steel weight to the headstock to improve sustain.

“The guitar sounds bright and harmonic,” Burgess says. “I didn’t realize that each stick was going to be so different in composition. Some are thin layers on a solid core, while others are laminated with many layers. I made this guitar for myself, but I’d be happy to build another one for anyone who is interested. They’ll just need to supply their own sticks!”

Details of this guitar’s construction and other guitars Burgess has built can be viewed at his YouTube channel.

Photo: Jackie Noble

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.