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Challenge set to build a guitar in 12 hours for Billy Bragg gig


A guitar workshop is tuning up for a spectacular event – to make a guitar from scratch in 12 hours, ready for singer songwriter Billy Bragg to play in his concert that evening.

Pi Guitars, based at Nailsworth Subscription Rooms, will begin the challenge at 6.30am next Saturday, February 10th, and will have the electric guitar ready to play that evening at the sold out gig.

Nailsworth Guitar Workshop 3 | Challenge set to build a guitar in 12 hours for Billy Bragg gig
Gavin Pond and Pam Brown. Pic: Matt Bigwood.

The workshop was opened 15 years ago by Gavin Pond and Pam Brown, firstly working with young people and adults with learning disabilities. Now guitars are built by volunteers at Nailsworth Community Workshop, using recycled wood.

“Over the years the musical instrument industry has been partially responsible for destruction of rainforests, so our guitars are made completely from recycled and locally sourced timber,” said Gavin.

“An increasing number of people struggle with anxiety and their mental health. So, whilst building guitars in our community workshop, we simultaneously build confidence, self-belief and transferable skills in all our volunteers.

Nailsworth Guitar Workshop 9 | Challenge set to build a guitar in 12 hours for Billy Bragg gig

“The project has been funded by sponsorship for the guitars and fundraising.  The cost to sponsor a guitar is £1,000 and your company or personal message is laser etched onto the back of the guitar. The guitars are then donated to community projects which support mental health and wellbeing. Guitars have also been sponsored as memorials.

“So far, we have donated guitars to Stroud College; a music therapist who works with young people; Gloucester Music Works; Changing Tunes, a charity which uses music to help people lead crime-free lives; and the Nelson Trust.”

Nailsworth Guitar Workshop 2 | Challenge set to build a guitar in 12 hours for Billy Bragg gig
Billy Bragg’s signature on the guitar. Pic: Matt Bigwood.

Pam and Gavin met Billy Bragg when he was playing in Oxford and proposed the idea: “I told him we had this crazy idea of doing a 12-hour guitar build and we wanted him to do a gig at the end of it, and he said, ‘that sounds like the crazy sort of thing I’d enjoy!’”

The guitar’s design is loosely based on the classic Fender Telecaster played such luminaries as Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Johnny Marr. There will be seven or eight people working throughout the day on various parts of the instrument, bringing all the elements together for the sold-out concert in the evening.

The guitar workshop is open on Monday and Friday mornings and Gavin is keen to attract more volunteers. Anyone interested should contact him or Pam via the website

Pictures by Matt Bigwood

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