Senior pursues his musical passion by building and repairing guitars
By Jane Eskildsen
Hunched over at his work table, senior Josh Wydick sands down a guitar just the way he wants it.
Transforming a plain slab of wood into a gleaming new guitar is a process he knows well. Wydick began his hobby four years ago, crafting roughly three guitars from scratch each year. He also builds and repairs violins, ukuleles, banjos, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, basses and other fretted instruments.
“We strive for an instrument that looks like the tree grew like that,” Wydick said. “It needs to look natural.”
This sort of craftsmanship requires patience and maturity, two things Wydick has in abundance, according to John Bolzenius, Wydick’s boss at The Guitar House Workshop in Grandview, Ohio.
Wydick interns with Bolzenius, a position he acquired after an eighth-grade shadowing experience at the guitar workshop. Wydick said his mother encouraged him to continue with the trade of building instruments, so Wydick sent a thank you letter to Bolzenius and asked if he could intern. Soon after, Wydick began helping out at the guitar shop.
“[Wydick] had the right combination of patience and skill level, even though he hadn’t done a lot of [building] before,” Bolzenius said.
For several months at the beginning of his internship he cleaned the floors and bathrooms in the workshop. Wydick also began learning the technique of guitar craftsmanship and studied the details of instrument building, which requires extreme precision and attention to detail.
Working in measurements of a thousandth of an inch takes a certain talent, and about a year later, once Bolzenius realized that Wydick had mastered that skill, he hired Wydick as an apprentice at The Guitar House Workshop.
“Not everyone does this,” Wydick said. “It’s different. It’s unique.”
Wydick must go through a series of steps in order to craft the perfect guitar. He dedicates much of his spare time to transforming the original wood selection into a precision instrument, laboring over details such as tuning and alignment before calling the instrument completed and ready to be used.
There are many challenging and time-consuming stages that go into building a guitar. The process involves high temperatures, attention to detail, a high level of craftsmanship and an understanding of musical tones.
“The most fun, which is also a pain, is bending the sides,” Wydick said. “It’s really interesting to watch, it’s a very meticulous process.”
The sides can take hours to bend even over temperatures ranging from 400-to-850 degrees Fahrenheit. Also while building, Wydick has to tap tune, a process where he taps the instrument to find the different tones of the guitar and get a feel for how it sounds.
Bolzenius and Wydick have to pay special attention to the customer asking for the instrument. Sometimes they ask for a specific sound that goes with their style of playing.
“We have to get the sound from [the customer’s] head and put it into an instrument,” Wydick said.
The two of them work closely with all customers in order to ensure satisfaction.
Wydick plays a large part at The Guitar House Workshop by helping Bolzenius run his business.
“His contributions are pretty vast…I’m teaching him about the guitar industry,” Bolzenius said. “And he has helped me around the business [serving] customers.”
Wydick has simultaneously found his passion and improved the guitar building industry in Columbus.
“I enjoy being able to help someone create their music,” Wydick said.
This electric guitar, built by senior Josh Wydick, is in its final stage of production. Wydick spends months building stringed instruments, which require attention to fine detail and a high level of patience and maturity. Wydick interns at The Guitar House Workshop in Grandview, Ohio.
Image by: Josh Wydick