World’s Largest Playable Electric Guitar
Even guitars are bigger in Texas
The world’s largest playable electric guitar was built in 1999‒2000 by a physics teacher and 11 students as a science project at Conroe ISD’s Academy of Science & Technology outside of Houston, Texas.
At 43.5 feet long and 16 feet wide, it is a perfectly scaled copy of a 1967 Gibson Flying V guitar, only 12 times larger than the original. And it weighs 2,244 pounds, roughly as much as a Mini Cooper. While building the guitar, students learned about electromagnetism, waveforms and vibrations, structural engineering, and acoustics. Scott Rippetoe, the teacher whose idea it was to build the guitar, said the biggest challenge was producing the sound. Since a 25-foot "string" cannot be drawn tight enough to vibrate and make an audible sound, the students used sophisticated signal processing hardware and software to increase the frequency of the string to an audible level. To produce the sound, a pick-up coil measures each string's vibration, which is then processed by an amplifier that smooths and translates the signal into one that's digital for the microprocessor.
The Gibson Flying V was introduced in 1958. Made out of Korina wood, it featured three in-line knobs, squared shoulders, gold plated hardware, PAF pickups, a metal wedge through which the strings passed, all frets clear of the body, and a peghead logo of raised letters. There were a total of 120 original guitars made.
Rippetoe and his students presented their guitar to the world in June 2000, playing the opening chord of the Beatles A Hard Day’s Night. In 2001 the guitar was certified by Guinness World Records as the largest playable electric guitar in the world. More than a decade later, it still holds the record.
In 2011 the National GUITAR Museum acquired the mammoth guitar. It has since been enjoyed by museum visitors around the nation as it has traveled with the exhibit, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World.
National GUITAR Museum
Time Period: 1971 - Present
This artifact is currently on view.