Home guitar Crafting Unique Guitars from Hemp: Inside the Workshop of Hemptone Music

Crafting Unique Guitars from Hemp: Inside the Workshop of Hemptone Music

by Madonna

In this week’s podcast feature, we delve into the captivating world of luthiery with a focus on Jay Burstein, a skilled craftsman hailing from Vermont. Burstein is the visionary behind Hemptone Music, a boutique establishment that has pioneered the art of fashioning guitars from industrial hemp.

The conversation with Burstein provides insights into his innovative process of handcrafting these distinctive instruments, as well as an exploration of the transformative journey he has embarked upon to refine and enhance his production techniques.

Burstein’s initial appearance on the podcast occurred in early 2019, a time when he was utilizing clay and fiberglass molds to sculpt the bodies of his guitars. Since then, he has embarked on a voyage of process optimization, embracing a more intricate approach to shaping these musical creations.

The complexities of his endeavor become evident as he shares, “It’s not just about conceiving the design of the instrument itself; you must also devise the intricate tooling necessary to bring it to life.”

Collaborating with an engineer and a dedicated facility, Burstein took on the task of milling aluminum for his innovative body molds, signifying a critical juncture in his evolution as a craftsman.

The genesis of his venture into hemp-based guitars was rooted in his desire to engineer a compact yet robust travel guitar. Drawing inspiration from his travels through South America, during which he encountered the limitations of traditional wood guitars, he set out to create an instrument that could withstand the rigors of such journeys.

“The design of this instrument encapsulates my own aspirations, reflecting my experiences as a traveler,” Burstein elucidates.

In a recent endeavor, Burstein graciously lent one of his hemp guitars for a sojourn to the Montana Summer Hemp Summit in Great Falls. The instrument’s portability and compatibility with overhead compartments made it a convenient travel companion, and its unique attributes captivated the audience.

Burstein explains, “The guitar boasts a compact form, roughly half the size of a standard guitar, yet preserving a 25-inch scale length—akin to that of a full-sized guitar. However, I’ve truncated it around the fifth fret.”

For guitar enthusiasts, this innovation is analogous to having a capo positioned on the fifth fret. While the instrument plays harmoniously like any other guitar, it has a distinctive tuning where the low note is transformed from an E to an A.

Burstein’s connection to Montana runs deep, as he sourced the hemp fibers used in the guitar from IND Hemp, a Montana-based supplier. This confluence of craftsmanship and material sourcing rendered the Montana Summer Hemp Summit a fitting context for showcasing the hemp guitar’s splendor. Attendees were treated to an up-close encounter at the Lancaster Farming expo table, where this diminutive instrument left a profound impression.

Jay Burstein’s journey as a luthier continues to unfold, marked by his dedication to innovation, commitment to quality, and reverence for the untapped potential of industrial hemp in the realm of musical craftsmanship.

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