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Guitars for Vets Brings Woodworkers Together in 2010 to Build Guitars for Troops
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Finished Guitars for Vets projects In all, the summer 2010 program completed 20 guitars that were donated to veterans across the United States.

In the summer of 2010, The Wild Earth School in Hudson, Wisconsin, combined 100-plus volunteers, 20 steel-string guitar kits and two days to create 20 acoustic guitars for Guitars for Vets (G4V).

Guitars for Vets program Woodworkers from across the country donated their time, materials, and talents to the Guitars for Vets program to provide music for rehabilitating veterans.

The mission of G4V is to provide an acoustic guitar and lessons for vets with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the organization says: “the healing power of music in the hands of heroes.”

I’m only a marginal “picker,” but it was easy to see how playing might help a vet event, skill levels varied from those who had never done any woodworking to advanced woodworkers and luthiers.

Guitars for Vets construction During the first day of construction, the parts for the guitars were cut, sanded and laid out for assembly.

Our goal for the first day was to have the fretboards and bridges on. Leading up to this, the guitars needed a fair amount of sanding, fret markers had to be installed, and the truss rods had to be suffering from PTSD. For our fitted. Volunteers also wrote messages on and signed the back of each guitar.

Assembling Guitars for Vets guitars The assembly process provided plenty of opportunities for woodworkers of various skill levels to teach each other techniques they've picked up over time.

The next day, we needed to ream for the bridge pins, drill holes for the tuners, and do a light finish sanding on the entire instrument. Volunteers accidentally drilled a few tuner mounting screw holes all the way through, from the back of the headstock through the front. Out came veneer, and a lesson in veneering.

Stringing Guitars for Vets The guitars were finished and strung with careful attention to detail, as there is quite a bit of final assembly in the tuners, strings, tweaking nuts and saddles, and necks with a truss rod

I had chosen shellac for the finish, knowing it was easy to apply and would dry quickly. After a short lesson in spraying (using aerosol cans), we started finishing guitars at about 11:30. After a rain delay, the final coat was dry enough to allow us to handle the guitars by 3:00.

With 20 guitars complete, and about 50 volunteers still on hand, we broke the guitars in with a rousing version of “This Land Is Your Land.” Knowing these instruments would soon be helping vets with PTSD, emotions ran high, and a few tears were flowing.

Sending out signed guitars The guitars were signed and carefully packed after a brief ceremony to be sent out to veterans suffering from PTSD.

Build A Vet A Guitar was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Kudos and many thanks to all the volunteers.

For more info about Guitars For Vets, visit For more info on The Wild Earth School, visit

posted on April 1, 2011 by George Vondriska
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