You don’t have to be a guitar lover to enjoy the newest exhibit at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. But if you are a fan of the world’s most recognized musical instrument, you’ll definitely appreciate GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World.
A touring exhibition of The National Guitar Museum, GUITAR will run in the Upstairs Rotunda Gallery of the Fleet through April 6, 2014. That means you have plenty of time to plan a trip and prepare to be amazed.
Steve Vai is there playing his custom Ibanez Heart Tripleneck Guitar. Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Buddy Guy and Pete Townsend are there too. Slash, Zakk Wylde, Chrissie Hynde and Angus Young are all there in legendary rock photographer Neil Zlozower’s photo gallery.
When you first walk in you feel like you’re in for another run-of-the-mill art gallery style museum exhibit. But once you sit on the red heavy metal benches and look up at the near life size photos, most of which are live performance shots, founder/executive director H.P. Newquist’s intent is clear: you feel like you’re sitting in a front row seat at the greatest concert in history.
At the end of the photo gallery, just across the hall, the exhibit entry is marked by a one story tall photo sign of a sleek and sexy guitar that draws you into the heart of it all.
More than 60 guitars are on display with at least 13 Fender Stratocasters hanging from the domed ceiling, a section aptly titled “The Stratosphere”. Up to 100 historical artifacts, like the Mesopotamian Oud and the 16th century Spanish Vihuela are also displayed throughout the space.
|Children explore and play on the world's |
largest playable guitar, a Flying V.
There’s even room for the world’s largest playable axe, a 1967 styled Gibson Flying V. According to Guinness World Records it weighs 907 kg (2000 lbs), measures 13.29 meters (43 feet 7.5 inches), and is built to a scale of 1:12 by students at the Conroe Independent School District Academy of Science and Technology in Conroe, Texas.
This science-oriented show is great for kids, but also gives the experienced player a better understanding of how his/her gear functions.
Several interactive stations are available including The Physics Of Rock Guitar, a fantastic 3-minute video by renowned physicist Dr. Mark Lewney that explains how sound waves are produced and how they change shape once they move through an amplifier.
Taking it a step further, See-Through Amplifiers made of Plexiglas enable visitors to view wiring, tubes and other components that allow the instrument to be heard from several hundred yards away.
Once you fully understand the process of sound production and amplification, take a look at the See-Through Guitar then stop by the Design Your Own Guitar touchscreen interactive where you can get an idea of what you want your next axe to look like. It’s a great way to get a head start.
RRR Guitar Picks
Most Interesting Guitar: Rock Ock, designed by Gerard Huerta, is an 8-neck monster with 154 frets and 51 strings. Weighing 40 pounds, it features from left to right a mandolin, tenor ukulele, six-string, fretless and fretted bass, 12-string, baritone and a seven-string guitar.
Coolest Looking Guitar: Visionary Instruments Tele-Vision played by Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), which is cut like a Telecaster and sports a full color video screen built into the body.
Most Left Field Guitar: Cochran Boostercaster. It looks like a customized industrial guitar that Edward Scissorhands keeps in his house hoping someday he’ll be able to strum it without slicing it to bits.
It’s a favorite not so much because of its looks, but more so for the story behind it which, like the booster itself, is something of an accessory. Read the last paragraph of the object information label and you’ll understand why we dubbed it Most Left Field.