Click the photo to hear the sound.

The Jen Ben

by Jennifer J.

My instrument is a guitar. The name of my guitar is Jen Ben. My teacher, Mrs. Scaro, logged onto the Internet and printed out a picture of an instrument for me. That's how I got the idea for making my guitar. I chose to make a string instrument because I like guitars. My guitar looks very colorful and it sounds like a "pluck". The strings on my guitar are different pitches. I can change the volume by plucking it hard or soft.

The materials I used to make my guitar are a square oil can, detergent, two pieces of wood, an awl, a rasp, paint, shelf paper, nails, golf tees, and four guitar strings. The tools I used to make it are a hammer, a saw, sandpaper, a material knife, and a wood drill. I found my pieces of wood and tools in my garage. I got the paint and the oil can in my basement. I bought the guitar strings at a music store. The shelf paper I used on my guitar looked like real guitar wood, in my opinion. The wood on the guitar is smooth, but a little rough in places. The oil can smells like turpentine.

I made my instrument by taking an oil can and drilling holes into it. After that I attached a piece of wood to the oil can and painted the piece of wood. I put the shelf paper on the oil can and attached the guitar strings to the wood handle.

It was very hard to make this instrument. My parents helped me with a lot of things. They helped me with cutting the wood, cleaning the oil can, and attaching the guitar, making the holes in the oil can, and sawing the wood.

One problem I had in making this instrument was cleaning the oil can. The turpentine inside wouldn't come out and it smelled. The solution was that I put a paper towel in the spout of the oil can and left it upside down for a few minutes so the paper towel would absorb the turpentine.

Another problem I had was putting the guitar strings on the wood. The guitar strings wouldn't stay on the guitar and the golf tees holding the guitar strings kept on breaking because the guitar strings were so tight. The solution was to put the tees upside down so I could adjust the strings to be tightened without the tees breaking.

I play my instrument by plucking the strings of the guitar. I can strum them all at once or one at a time. I can change the pitch of the guitar strings by moving my hand up and down the neck of the guitar. The closer I move my hand up to where I pluck the guitar strings, the higher the pitch gets. The farther I move my hand from where I pluck the guitar strings, the lower the pitch gets. I can change the volume by plucking the strings gently or plucking the strings hard.
Another way to play my instrument is to play it upside down. It looks very awkward upside down. It is usually hard for most people to play my guitar because, instead of the pitch being lowest to highest from the top of the guitar, it's highest to lowest.

I had fun making this instrument. It was challenging and took a lot of hard work. I learned how to make a guitar and that you can make a really good guitar out of junk. This project taught me how to use different materials and how to change my plans to make things work. I learned a lot from making my guitar.