Local teenage girl designs, builds a guitar and wins big at Mesa County Fair | PostIndependent.com

Local teenage girl designs, builds a guitar and wins big at Mesa County Fair

Sharon Sullivan
Hope Pfalzgraff holds the electric guitar she designed and built for a 4-H Mesa County Fair project. Pfalzgraff won the Grand Champion prize in the woodworking category, unit 4.
Sharon Sullivan / ssullivan@gjfreepress.com | Free Press

Clifton teenager Hope Pfalzgraff has grown up in a family where music is key at family gatherings. Someone brings out an instrument and “suddenly there are 50 guitars,” Pfalzgraff said.

When Pfalzgraff decided last year she wanted to learn how to play electric guitar, she figured she’d make her own.

“Most are too heavy,” the petite 18-year-old said.

On Monday, Mesa County Fair judges awarded Pfalzgraff a Grand Champion ribbon for a sleek electric guitar she designed and built at home in her father’s woodworking shop. She began the project nearly a year ago.

Pfalzgraff joined the True Grit 4-H Club eight years. Half of that time she’s explored the woodworking unit, completing various projects such as a pot holder trivet for her mother, a napkin holder and a small wagon. She was ready to tackle a more challenging project this year — an electric guitar that would fit her frame.

In October, Pfalzgraff spread out an end roll of plain newsprint and began drawing.

“It was a long process; designing it, making it pretty, making it mine — that and sanding it,” Pfalzgraff said.

Wood shrinks during the winter, then swells when temperatures rise, Pfalzgraff said. So she set aside her design until spring while gathering the pieces to build the instrument.

She chose poplar, tiger maple and rosewood — “master-grade pieces” — spending more than $500 and 70 hours to build the perfect guitar.

“There was a lot of after school, a lot of late nights, a lot of weekends — it was well worth it,” Pfalzgraff said.

Her father, Jeff Pfalzgraff, was her project leader, showing her the steps to take.

“He has a fully stocked wood shop that I’m allowed to borrow,” Pfalzgraff said.

The electric guitar will now travel to the state fair competition in Pueblo in August.

Members of 4-H meet monthly starting in October, culminating with projects entered in the county fair in July. Then, “we start getting ready for next year,” Pfalzgraff said.

Pfalzgraff won a few other ribbons this year, including Grand Champion for modeling “artistic clothing” for the “Decorate Your Duds” project.

“We have a fashion review every year at the fair where you decorate clothing and model it,” said Pfalzgraff, who will go to Pueblo to compete in the state fair fashion show.

Pfalzgraff’s best friend, Hannah Martin, won Reserve Grand Champion for modeling, and Grand Champion for decorating a galaxy-style dress with bleaching and painting.

Both Pfalzgraff and Martin served as fair ambassadors this year, promoting the event through television and radio interviews, and helping to set up contests and hand out ribbons.

Pfalzgraff graduated from a home-school high school program in May and plans to attend Colorado Mesa University in the fall.

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