Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

CCOG for MUS 287 Winter 2022

View archive version »
Course Number:
MUS 287
Course Title:
STEM Guitar Build and Theory
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Provides an opportunity to build a guitar using NSF funded STEM guitarbuilding.org program. Includes history of the guitar, physics of sound, tone-wood sustainability, electronics, and mathematics behind design of the instrument. Includes building, setting-up, and playing a functional electric guitar with custom design elements. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Course uses guitar kits to complete build. The should ideally be stocked in through the bookstore. Course requires use of wood-shop or similar space to accommodate large saws and sanders.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Use mathematics and physics to build and set up an electric guitar.
  • Use an understanding of tonewoods to source, cost-out, and assemble an electric guitar.
  • Use understanding of pitch and tuning systems to create guitars of different scale lengths and intonations.
  • Use guitar history and literature to trace the development of technologies used in guitar construction and techniques used in guitar playing.

Course Activities and Design

Course divided into modular learning activities that students complete via D2L. Also includes work in wood-shop that may include making cuts, sanding, use of drills and other power tools. Safety should be top priority in the shop. Include safety training in course.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

MLAs - Modular Learning Activities including research papers, cost analysis, sustainability studies, history of chordophones, algebraic calculations, instrument design, physics of sound, electronics, and other related topics.

D2L Quizzes

Project Completion

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Guitar Anatomy

Inventory and Cost Analysis

Physics of Sound

Tonewoods and Sustainability

Headstock and Body Design

Temperament and Fret Spacing

History of Guitars

Guitar Electronics

Guitar Hardware

Strings and Action Set Up

Bridge Set Up and Intonation

Basics of Playing the Guitar

Includes guitar set-up (fret dressing, action adjustment, and bridge intonation)

Build may include use of saws, sanders, drills, hand tools, and light soldering. Also includes application of finishes.