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NIACC guitar building class perfect for handy, musical people

Story and photo by Nick Pilgrim

MASON CITY – As the NIACC spring semester comes to an end, the summer term is just about to begin.

NIACC will be offering its guitar building class this summer.

The course runs from May 9 until June 3 and consists of four days a week three hours a day instruction and building of an electric guitar.

Gregg Helmich, NIACC Building Trades instructor is the guitar building course instructor.

“Basically we’re going to be building Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster style guitars.” Helmich said.

The Guitars are made from wood furnished by NIACC and the student has to order a kit which includes a premade headstock and the electronics of the guitar.

The student will create the body of the guitar, rout out all the cavities of the guitar and install the electronics Helmich said.

Helmich said that a basic guitar building kit will cost around $160 but the cost could be higher depending on the amount of detail the student wants to put into their guitar.

Helmich has been teaching this course at NIACC for the last four years. Helmich also taught this course at Forest City High school for six years.

The course has a limit of 12 students, with seven or eight currently enrolled.

Helmich said that the very latest he would take students would be the first day of class.

“The biggest issue is we’ve got to order parts and try to get some of that stuff in ahead of time.” Helmich said, “It’s not the end of the world, they can come Monday and join the class if they wanted to.”

Helmich said that in addition to the electric guitar they can also build bass guitars.

There is currently a student building a J style and a P style Bass guitar.

Helmich said that he has personally built 5 guitars during the time he has taught this class.

“There’s nothing quite like building an instrument that you actually built yourself, with your own hands. So that’s a lot of fun too.” Helmich said.

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