Eye of the Tiger

Senior builds up guitar hobby

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(MIKAYLA STEARNS/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(MIKAYLA STEARNS/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(MIKAYLA STEARNS/EYE OF THE TIGER)

GARRET SCHAFFER

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Roseville High School senior Jon Kunkle found inspiration in building his own guitars from scratch. The guitar enthusiast’s interest began when he got the chance to build his own guitar after transferring to Buljan Middle School a few years ago.

“I was in eighth grade and I heard that the woodshop teacher there made guitars for some famous people around. I had just switched schools so I thought ‘Man, I kind of want to do that for the last few months,’” Kunkle said.

Kunkle could not enroll in woodshop teacher Duane Calkins’ class, so he agreed to come in while school was not in session. From there, Kunkle began to learn the process of building an entire guitar from scratch.

Following the experience, Kunkle kept up his interest in the musical instrument and decided to pursue it further. He learned how to play the guitar through the guitar program at Roseville and continued gathering supplies for his guitar-building efforts. According to Kunkle’s sister, Katerina Kunkle, Calkins was very welcoming and willing to help Kunkle in his quest to build a guitar.

“The woodshop teacher was super nice and dedicated. He just agreed,” Katerina said.

Jon enjoys the long process of making a guitar from scratch, even though he understands the time and effort needed to complete one.

“[For the guitar] Mr. Calkins gave me a block of alder wood to use for the body and I used hard maple for the neck. It was pretty tedious. It took a good four months so I went everyday after school to sand the body and trace it out. I was trying to make a replica guitar so it was pretty close, but it definitely turned out,” Jon said.

If built from scratch, a full guitar can take months to finish, so Jon feels a greater appreciation for handmade guitars. He believes there is nothing can compare to a bought guitar made by somebody else and one that you made to your own liking.

“When you build it, it’s a little different. Someone didn’t build it for you but it’s your own work and your own mistakes and your own process,” Jon said.

In his time building guitars, Jon has gained a variety of new skills.

“I’ve definitely learned some wood-working skills. The process of sanding, painting, and the electronics, too, so it’s fun,” Jon said. “Mr. Calkins definitely helped me out with what to do and how I want it to sound.”

Junior Luke Jordan, a friend of Jon’s, has noticed the improvement and accomplishments that Jon is achieving. Jordan expressed admiration for Jon’s talent and passion.

“Guitar is what makes Jon who he is because he’s always playing guitar, sending me videos, and he’s definitely good at it,” Jordan said. “It’s just something he’s been great at for his whole high school life.”

After his first guitar was completed, Jon was pleased with the final product and his success just grew his passion for guitars further.

“I was definitely surprised. I didn’t think it was as easy as it was. I was happy about it for sure because I was a little nervous how it would turn out,” Jon said.

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