The lucky students in Helmich’s guitar-building class, now in its second year at Forest City High School, are finishing a collection of unique, hand-made guitars. Upon completion, they will fit their new instruments with Anti-Rust strings donated by Elixir® Strings, the pioneer in long-life string technology. Elixir® Strings also donated guitar picks and additional products to the class.
“I have a dream of putting together a curriculum for other schools, to encourage this,” Helmich explains. “I even teach the students a few chords to try to jump-start their interest in further study. That’s why we’re so grateful that Elixir® partnered with us.”
The young luthiers build a complete body from scratch, says Helmich, and add pre-made necks. “They modify their headstock and can install different tuners or tremolo systems if they choose. Some students are building [Gibson] SG styles this year, some are doing very wacky designs, and many stick with the basic [Fender] Stratocaster design, but it’s always a lot of fun. I’m even offering the class this summer as an enrichment course to eight different school districts that can take it as a summer class. I want to stick with this guitar building class.”
A local body shop owner and guitarist, Bernal Hanna, helps students who wish to add showroom-quality finish to their guitar. Students, says Helmich, “put on a primer coat, then come back and wet-sand it. Bernal gets very elaborate—some students add hand prints with auto paint, and some of them have the quasi-Van Halen look. It’s a lot of fun.”
As a guitarist for 20 years, Helmich’s preference for Elixir® Strings is based on ample hands-on experience. “I read about Elixir® Strings when they first hit the market and bought a couple sets,” he recalls. “I played a set of Acoustic Phosphor Bronze strings with Nanoweb coating for six months—heavily, for many hours—and they sounded better than a lot of other sets that I’ve put on right out of the package.
“Some strings are dead after just a couple hours of playing,” Helmich continues. “I’ve tried other brands and was not impressed—I didn’t like the tone when they were brand new, and still didn’t like them after they were broken in.”
In addition to teaching at Forest City High School, Helmich leads weekly worship at a local church, where Elixir® Strings are also essential. “What it sounds like is important to me,” he says. “On occasions when I didn’t have a set of Elixirs on hand, I thought “I’ll throw these on,” and after one or two Sundays, I can’t stand them, I’ve got to get a set of Elixirs on there. I love the bright sound and long life of Elixir® Strings. What they say is true: the great tone and long life, it’s all there. To me, it’s money well spent.”
About Elixir® Strings
Elixir® Strings is the pioneer in coated string technology and is available in two string “flavors.” Ultra-thin NANOWEB® Coating provides the bright tone and punch of uncoated strings, yet keep their lively tone three to five times longer than ordinary strings. The thin coating is nearly undetectable — providing the feel of traditional strings. Elixir® Strings with original POLYWEB® Coating also sound great three to five times longer than ordinary strings, have a balanced tone with smooth response, feel comfortably smooth, and reduce finger squeak. Elixir® Strings are available in a full range of gauges for acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, banjo, and mandolin.
Today, Elixir® Strings are installed as original equipment by a growing list of discriminating electric guitar and bass manufacturers including Ibanez, Tom Anderson Guitarworks, Brian Moore Guitars, Carvin, Melancon Guitars as well as premium acoustic guitar luthiers such as Taylor Guitars, Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Alvarez-Yairi, Lakewood Guitars, RainSong Graphite Guitars, Carvin, and Goodall Guitars. Elixir® Strings are endorsed by popular artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Train, Dave Mason, Michael W. Smith, Jim Messina, Christopher Cross, Bob Seger, and Drowning Pool.
Elixir® Strings are manufactured by W.L. Gore & Associates, the company widely known for such innovations as GORE-TEX® fabrics.