Heavy Into Music

June 12, 1991 1 min read

From the Jasonville, Ind., high school that last year brought you the world’s largest yo-yo, this year comes the world’s biggest guitar.

More than 50 woodworking, metalworking, and drafting students from Shakamak High School worked together under the direction of their industrial-arts teacher, Jeff McNabb, to replicate the the Gibson Flying “V,” a classic electric guitar. And they weren’t afraid to think big.

How big?

So big that it has to be moved in three pieces and takes at least 20 students to haul the biggest piece. Or 38 feet, 2 inches long and 1,865 pounds, to be exact.

But to break the world record, the instrument had to play like a real guitar. So two weeks ago, at what was billed as “The World’s Largest Guitar Show,” 12 students--2 per string--entertained a packed house with hot renditions of “Smoke on the Water” and the theme from “Peter Gunn.”

There was an amplifier apiece for each of the six strings, explains Kade Puckett, the 18-year-old guitarist, draftsman, and woodworker who guided the design of the guitar along with his brother Brandon. The strings also sustain indefinitely, leading to a sound akin to “a real loud bass guitar,” Mr. Puckett says with pride.

How loud?

“I saw a lot of old people holding their ears,” Mr. Puckett recalls.

Mr. Puckett, who next fall will study classical and jazz composition in college, says that building the guitar was ultimately a lesson in problem-solving.

Although the guitar has received more attention, Mr. McNabb says he is even prouder of last year’s yo-yo, because it enabled 16 students, most of whom were learning-disabled, to accomplish something big.

“We took kids who don’t survive academically and gave them something to get excited about,” he says. “Those kids worked through their lunch hour and after school. In my educational experience, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The yo-yo, 6 feet in diameter, can be seen at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and the class is still working on finding a fitting home for the guitar.--wm

A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 1991 edition of Education Week as Heavy Into Music