By Charles D. Perry
Buck Buchanan just wanted a bench.
The 52-year-old Socastee plumber had spent nearly a year working on the old Burroughs School, helping convert the Conway building into a museum. He wanted a tangible way to remember the project.
“I wanted it as a keepsake for myself,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of blood and guts into that museum.”
So Buchanan, who works for Carolina Cool, brought home some 2-by-14 pieces of discarded lumber, old floor joists that no one thought were salvageable.
He had planned to make a simple bench, but then he started talking to his older brother, Rick, a guitar-maker who lives in Mesquite, Texas.
Rick Buchanan could give his brother something better than a bench.
He asked Buck to ship him the boards.
Rick started making guitars about five years ago after he retired from running a motorcycle shop.
He now operates rbcustomguitars.com.
He’s shaped guitars from mahogany, maple and swamp ash.
But Rick didn’t know what he’d be able to do with the Burroughs planks until the wood arrived.
“When I got the wood, it was just phenomenal,” Rick said, adding that he estimates the virgin cypress pieces are 300 years old.
Rick spent some 30 hours making the first guitar. He patched the worm holes with dark wood filler. He left the nail holes as they are.
“I don’t want to take away from anything that would show the age of the wood,” Rick said. “They make for an interesting piece”
The flooring became the body of the guitar. He used maple for the neck and rosewood for the fret board. He didn’t paint anything. He never does.
“I just let the beauty of the natural wood shine through as the finish of the guitar,” he said.
Rick has made three guitars from the Burroughs floor, and he said he’s got enough wood to make about 30 more. He arrived in town Wednesday to deliver some of his wares. One guitar is for his brother, but another is for the Horry County Museum.
Rick will make the official presentation to the museum this afternoon.
In case there was any doubt about whether the guitar is an instrument or a showpiece, Rick demonstrated Wednesday that it’s both.
Having played guitar since he was 12, he plugged in the axe and strummed some chords. He also admired his handiwork.
“I just don’t know what you call that but pretty,” he said. “It’s just like it came out of the floor.”
Museum Director Walter Hill said he just found out about the guitar last week.
When Buck told him what had happened, he showed Hill a picture of the instrument on his cell phone.
“Are you kidding me?” Hill said. “He made a guitar out of that old board?”
“Yeah, man,” Buck replied. “He’s making me one, too.”
Buck admits he’s not a guitar player yet, but he hopes to figure it out.
“I’m a student,” he said. “I’m learning.”
And learning is what the Buchanan brothers hope the guitar provides.
They’d like to see the instrument be part of an exhibit. Hill said he’s fine with that.
“That’ll be a neat way to show off part of what was and what is,” he said. “We’ll find somewhere special for it.”
“It’s something that the people of that area ought to be able to see,” Rick said. “Not everything goes to waste.”
“It’s like they say on TV,” he said. “Reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Charles Perry is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Find more of his work online at myhorrynews.com.
A group of local musicians will be looking at some of Rick Buchanan’s guitars in Surfside Beach Friday afternoon. The gathering will take place around 3:30 p.m. at 35 Evergreen Circle. For more information about his guitars, visit www.rbcustomguitars.com.