Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 18, 2015

Building guitars in a dorm with Theo Ruffins

This week, The Knox Student sat down with freshman Theo Ruffins to discuss guitars and guitar-building.

The Knox Student: So first off, how did you get into music in general?

Theo Ruffins: When I was younger [eighth grade], my friends and I wanted to make a band, and I played bass for a long time … but when I got to college, I realized you can do a lot more with guitar than you can with basses.

TKS: So how did you get into actually building guitars?

TR: I’ve always sort of liked building stuff, like I worked on cars for a little bit. [But when it came to guitars], there was a woodshop in my high school and, you know, free wood … that’s a major component [of building guitars]. It’s really expensive just to buy wood and stuff. And as I listened to more music, I thought it’d be pretty cool to build guitars. And I saw YouTube videos of people building stuff … it just all seemed too cool to me.

TKS: Did you build anything before you built a guitar?

TR: Well, I had done some basic woodshop stuff, like boxes or whatever. But nothing to this same level [of difficulty]. Actually, I worked on guitars that I owned for a long time. One of my first guitars was this really s****y $100 guitar that a friend just gave me and it was terrible, so I researched it a lot and worked on fixing that. I’ve been preparing stuff for a bit, but I was never really tempted to build stuff until high school.

TKS: So what’s the process of designing a guitar?

TR: When I’m looking at guitars online, whatever I’m enjoying right now is sort of what I gravitate to. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed hybrids of different guitars. My latest guitar was a Jazzcaster, which is a cross between a Jazzmaster and a telecaster, so it’s like weird and retro. … I always sort of thought that mixing the best elements from different guitars was kind of cool.

TKS: So do you build guitars based on kits? Or do you always build guitars from scratch?

TR: [For] this last one that I did, the white semi-hollow body [was built] from scratch. That was the one that I did in woodshop, and that took a long time. It was a lot of trial and error, like a lot of trial and error. But for this most recent one I did, I just bought all the parts online; it wasn’t from scratch.

TKS: Ordinarily, how much does it take to build a guitar?

TR: This past one I finished was about $700 from start to finish, but only because I already had the neck for it and the tuners. But besides [all] that, it was about $700. The one that I built prior to that was only about $300 because I built more of it myself.

TKS: So earlier, you said that you also used to work on cars. What does that entail and on what kind of cars did you work?

TR: My friend’s dad had this old Triumph 2 race car that was modded up to racing specs, and he went on a lot of track days with it. I was actually part of a pit crew for a 24-hour long Le Mans race. … I’ve always sort of liked building stuff and working on stuff, and I guess that guitar-building is the latest iteration of that.

TKS:What projects do you see yourself working on in the future?

TR: I’d really like to build a jag stang. Like the one that Kurt Cobain had; I always thought that looked really cool. I think it’d be cool to build some more effects pedals because I haven’t tried that. That’s a lot of the electronic components that I’m not good at yet, but I would like to work on that a little bit. We’ll see where it goes.

Stefan Torralba

Tags:  College dorm guitars life music Ruffins Theo Theodore

Bookmark and Share

Previous Post
"Stop Kiss" meditates on Female Sexuality
Next Post
Study space opens in CFA

You might also like


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *