I love music and really love guitars. Unfortunately, God didn’t bless me with a singing voice, or even much in the way of rhythm.  That hasn’t stopped me from trying to play guitar for over 45 years.  What God has given me is the ability to use my hands and tools to create some pretty nice guitars.  I don’t build these guitars for money, instead I build them for people whom I care deeply about.  I want all of my guitars to be labors of love and the guitar that I have built for the Kellie Rynn Academy is especially close to my heart.

Mike and Kitzi Craig are neighbors who are very dear to us.  Through that relationship, I knew their daughter Kathryn, and her husband Ashley, Kellie Rynn’s parents.  My wife and I celebrated with them when Kellie Rynn was born and then shared their pain, heartbreak and tears when their beautiful baby girl died in a tragic way.  When they started to raise money for the Kellie Rynn Academy, the plan for Kellie Rynn’s guitar began to form.  I wanted to build this guitar to show our love for their family and to help them raise funds for Kellie Rynn Academy.

Building a guitar is an expensive proposition.  The materials for this guitar cost well over $1,200.00.  To help me with the cost, and to allow them to share in this gift to the Craig/Martin family, I asked neighbors if they would like to help with the cost.  As I knew they would, they bought into the project in a big way and have been following the progress of the guitar over the last several months.

Edwin McCain is one of my favorite singer-songwriters.  His hit songs include “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More”.  Edwin is known for helping out with charitable causes in Greenville, so I reached out to him to see if he would help out with this project.  I originally had hoped that he would collaborate in the design, but instead he gave me this advice, “You are the builder, build the guitar that wants to be born.”  So that is just what I did.  It was really cool when Edwin came over to play the first complete song on Kellie Rynn’s guitar and lend his autograph to the cause.  The songs that he played on Kellie Rynn’s Guitar were the most beautiful music “I have ever made”.

I took Edwin’s advice.  I selected some beautiful Goncalo Alves wood for the top and sides.  This is a highly patterned wood with both light and dark shades that swirl together.  This light and dark pattern gave birth to the theme of the guitar that “wanted to be born”.  The theme is “From darkness, light”.  I used black binding with cream accent continuing the theme.  The guitar top is Sitka Spruce.  The headstock veneer is book matched Hawaiian Koa that I brought home from Hawaii after searching through a stack of Koa in the attic of a lumber store on Kauai.  To set all of this off, I installed Abalone purfling around the rim of the guitar and around the sound hole.  I chose Abalone because, well, it is just really beautiful.

I am now having a blast getting many different musicians to play Kellie Rynn’s guitar to help us promote the raffle.

Steve Hayes