A Conard student went above and beyond for a self-directed project in one of his courses, crafting a homemade electric bass guitar.
By Clara Sorkin and Baylee Krulewitz
Graphic Design and Photography is a class offered at West Hartford’s Conard and Hall high schools where students have the ability to screen print, use advanced computer design programs, or work with high-tech photo and video capturing devices. The class uses a self-directed learning model, which gives students independence in exploring the many mediums and forms of technology available to them.
Many students make posters, digital art, or explore laser cutting. For rising Conard senior Ibrahim Koraishy, however, the class was an opportunity to take on a unique, extensive project: a homemade bass guitar.
As a member of Conard’s Jazz Ensemble, Ibrahim has always taken a special interest in music. Specifically, he loves the bass guitar. But, a good Fender bass guitar (Koraishy’s preferred type) can retail for around $600. So, when he discovered that his Graphics II teacher James Genovese, who also happens to be the Manufacturing and Woodworking Technology teacher, had worked on building instruments in the past, Ibrahim decided to do things his own way, and spent his year crafting his very own bass guitar.
The project was a difficult one for Ibrahim, spanning from October 2021 until the end of the school year in 2022. The first step was creating the design for the laser cut-out machine. Koraishy drew up the layout for the guitar on Adobe Illustrator using a special .DFX (Drawing Exchange Format) file, and then left the cutting-out to the CNC machine. After multiple prototypes made from foam and cardboard, the final guitar body could eventually be manufactured out of several types of wood.
Around February, Ibrahim was able to cut the shape of the guitar out of a wood block. Considering that he’d come into this project with no previous woodworking knowledge, Koraishy made great strides with his project, often having to stay late in the classroom to finish what he’d been working on.
For the next three months, Ibrahim sanded the guitar down by hand, having to rely on the extensive research he’d done on similar projects, considering that this was the first bass guitar project his teacher had worked on.
In reflecting on the project, Ibrahim mentioned that it “was very measurement-based,” and that coming into this project blind was a great learning experience.
After working on the guitar for almost the entire school year, Ibrahim is now able to show off his hard work: a beautifully sleek Paris Blue Jazz Bass guitar. He describes the guitar as having a “different type of sound” from his past instruments, one that is more distinct, powerful, and plays out in a punchy tone.
And while Ibrahim reflects on how he admires the imperfections of his guitar because they show the hard work he put into the project, he still has work left to do. This summer he’s worked on making a video about his project, showing the long process from start to finish.
For Ibrahim, the upcoming school year’s plans include taking the Graphic Design Capstone class offered at Conard, but he explains that he will probably focus on a smaller project, like designing logos or other digital media.
For students interested in similar projects, Ibrahim recommends the project, sharing that it’s a difficult venture, but worth it – as long as you’re willing to put in the work.
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