Sharon Sullivan

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August 30, 2007
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Building your own Parlour guitar

Grand Junction CO Colorado

Grand Junction " In a little wood-working shop in back of his Fruita home, Cullen Purser, along with local folk singer John Winn, hope to turn people on to a smaller, more intimate instrument called the Parlour guitar.

Purser, 31, will build two guitars " one for Winn, and one for himself " in a class that he says will give people the know-how to build their own Parlour guitars.

Purser built his first guitar in high school after finding a book at the Mesa County Public Library called "Making Classical Guitars," by Irving Sloan. He's made two others since.

He furthered his wood-working skills and knowledge of instruments after working for Blevins Instruments in 2002 and 2003 where he said he crafted harps weekly.

The Parlour guitar is smaller than the more common dreadnaught, steel-string guitar, commonly used by pop and country artists.

"The guitars really lend themselves to folk," Purser said.

The Parlour guitar was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"We both like this particular guitar," Winn said. "We like the size of it. We like the sound of it."

"Most guitars these days are big and boomy. We're shooting for cuddly, warm and smooth. The intimacy of the size fits very nicely and comfortably on your lap," Winn said.

Purser likes the look of the smaller guitar. "I think they're more attractive," he said.

There are not many of these types of guitars being made, and Purser and Winn are interested in going into the Parlour guitar-making business. These two guitars will be the first of the Elwood R. Whipple Guitar Company " the name stems from a character Winn created as a storyteller and singer-songwriter while living in northern Maine.

The class, starting Tuesday, Sept. 11 and lasting six to eight weeks, is intended to give people the courage and knowledge to be able to make their own guitar. One of the things Purser will show is how to bend wood.

"We take wood and make it curvy," Purser said. He first learned how to do that by boiling the wood, but Purser prefers an older, traditional method to loosen up the wood that involves placing the wood on top of a copper pipe and lighting a flame inside the pipe.

Purser will recommend a book, taking notes, and "the rest is practice," he said.

"I'm really convinced that half the battle is seeing it can be done," Purser said.

"A lot of it is just having the feel for what you want," Winn said.

Classes do not include the wood, said Purser. Participants will watch guitars being made; they will not actually build one themselves.

What he is asking for, is an $80 to $100 donation. And that's negotiable. The class size is limited to five people.

For more information or to register for the class, contact Purser at

Reach Sharon Sullivan at

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The Post Independent Updated Aug 30, 2007 09:53PM Published Aug 30, 2007 09:53PM Copyright 2007 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.