Feature: Guitars walking off walls of late singer Jimi Hendrix's house tell legend in Vancouver

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-25 12:36:05|Editor: An
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by Duggan Evan

VANCOUVER, June 24 (Xinhua) -- There's a saying:"If these walls could talk." Walls certainly can't talk, but music is heart touching, especially those that evoke memories.

A guitar-maker from Seattle has made a series of special guitars using wood salvaged from the walls of the childhood house of Jimi Hendrix, late American singer and one of the most influential guitarists in the history of popular music.

Reuben Forsland on Saturday displayed two of his unique guitars at the first-ever Vancouver International Guitar Festival, a three-day event that kicked off on Friday.

Forsland, who owns Joi guitars, was able to strike a deal with Hendrix's estate to get a hold of old-growth wood salvaged from the house that Hendrix lived in from 1953-1956 in central Seattle.

"It was the home where he was introduced to blues music, which became his passion," Forsland told Xinhua on Saturday morning, explaining that he used old fir baseboards and flooring from the bedroom and living room of the house, which was demolished and stored by the estate.

"I was able to pick through all the pieces, and chose woods from his bedroom or the living room," he said. "His bedroom, because that's where he spent a lot of time, and the living room because that's where the record player was."

The pair are part of 11 guitars called the Harmonic Hendrix Home Guitars. The asking price for the guitars will start at 25,000 U.S. dollars, with one guitar going directly to the Hendrix estate.

Forsland said a portion of the proceeds from the other sales will go back to the Jimi Hendrix Foundation.

In addition to the wood, old nails from the house were re-coated in silver and used as the fret markers. Copper wiring was also used in the instruments.

The back and sides of the guitars are made from African Blackwood, Forsland explained as an elder gentleman stopped and strummed one of the guitars. "It's a nod to his favorite guitar, Black Beauty."

Forsland started the Hendrix project back in 2014. He said he is happy with how the first two instruments sound and play.

"The tone is great. Lots of bass and lots of projection. Really good harmonics," he said, adding that "it has its own flavor for sure. I'm really happy with it."

The guitars are on display at Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre, among about 60 other exhibitions of high-end hand crafted guitars by makers from around the world.

Local guitar-maker Meredith Coloma helped to produce the event, which is the only one of its kind in western Canada.

"I wanted to do a festival like this for the last three years," she said in an interview.

"It's all custom high-end, hand-crafted guitars. You won't find something under 5,000 dollars here," she said.

Most of the guitars on display are for sale, but many were borrowed back by their makers from their owners.

"We have many dealers from around the world," she said. "They are coming around to meet these builders."

"Knowing your maker is so important. When you get to sit down and shake hands with the person who crafted the instrument that you're about to play, that's a one-of-a-kind thing," she said.

Among the makers at the show was Michael Greenfield, a high-profile luthier from Montreal, who came to the festival to make connections with dealers from the Pacific Rim.

Hand-crafted guitars truly are a cut above mass-produced instruments, said Greenfield, whose guitars are played by rock legend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, among other high-profile artists.

"We have the opportunity to work with each individual piece of wood and tailor it and dimension it to get the maximum out of that piece of wood, and match it with the corresponding elements of the instrument," Greenfield said, "it's like building race cars."