SPRING VALLEY, Ill. — Some day, when guitar aficionados are searching for a new set of strings, they may ignore a Gibson or Fender and reach for the Klein.
Jim Klein of Spring Valley is a truck driver by trade. But he spends his off-time in his garage doing wood-working and furniture making, and he is hoping for just that outcome.
He started making cigar box, and regular electric, guitars a few years ago.
“I saw a video on YouTube of a guy playing one, and I really liked the way they sound, so I just thought I would try to make one,” Klein said. “As soon I got done making one, I just wanted to make another one. It’s addictive.”
Klein doesn’t play the guitars he makes, although he is trying to learn.
Each cigar box guitar takes about 15 hours to make. The telecasters are more time consuming.
The cigar boxes for the guitars come from a variety of places, including friends who know Klein uses them for his hobby, and also from eBay.
To make the guitars, Klein cuts holes in the boxes for the neck, pickup and jacks.
Klein uses ash wood he buys in boards, because it gives the best tone, for both the body of his full-bodied guitars and the necks of his cigar box guitars. He gets the struts, pick ups, strings and other guitar specific pieces from an internet site — the convenience of them coming right to his home helps for his schedule — and also at Guitar Center in Peoria, if he happens to be down there.
People who know how to play the guitar love the sound, according to Klein.
He has even been endorsed by up-and-coming country artist Kris Colwell, who played one of his cigar box guitars at Uncle Stewey’s Roadhouse in Spring Valley, before asking Klein to make him one of his own.
Klein said people can order custom guitars from him, finding him on his Facebook page, Klein’s Cigar Box Guitars and Other Stringed Instruments.
Right now, he only makes electric guitars.
“I haven’t tried acoustic yet, they are a lot more involved,” Klein said. “The telecasters are pretty much the main guitar that there is because you can use them for anything.”
Klein is enjoying his addiction. While being as famous as Les Paul may be a dream, he’s keeping his day job.
“Right now, it’s just a hobby, (I) can make a few bucks doing it. You aren’t going to get rich,” Klein said.
Source: (LaSalle) News-Tribune, http://bit.ly/2ixx6bi
Information from: News-Tribune, http://www.newstrib.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (LaSalle) News-Tribune