OSB Strat

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Oriented strand board (OSB) is made using heat-cured adhesives to press together irregular shaped wood strands, oriented in crisscrossed layers into sheets of engineered boards. While OSB is used heavily in building construction as an alternative to plywood, it works well for most woodworking projects that require sheets of wood.  OSB is not as pretty as plywood (plywood is made from sheets of veneer glued and hot pressed together in cross laminated layers), however, OSB has the advantage of being very consistent with little or no gaps or voids in the finished sheets of engineered wood (plywood often has gaps, voids and soft spots).

Not many people would consider OSB a suitable material for a guitar; however, Jimmy Smith of the StratAcademy thought otherwise. Jimmy built a Stratocaster style electric guitar that is 100% OSB except for the hardware, e.g., tension rod in the neck (used to adjust the neck), frets, bridge, nut, string guides, machine heads, pickups, volume and tone controls, switch, jack, strap buttons, and strings. Jimmy’s OSB Strat is beautiful and it sounds great.

Jimmy said that he’s not the first luthier to build a guitar using OSB, but in videos he had seen of OSB guitars, the builders did not play them, so he had no idea of how they sounded or played. Since Jimmy didn’t want people having to ask “Well? What does it sound like? How does it play?”, he made a video of himself playing his OSB Strat; therefore, not only do you get to see my photos of it, you can watch the video to hear how it sounds and see how it plays.

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25 thoughts on “OSB Strat

  1. From such a humble and ugly material, Jimmy artfully crafted a beautiful and great sounding Strat. I love and respect our local talent. They are Gems in this desert place called New Mexico.
    That goes for you Tim. Fantastic photography.
    Thanks for posting about Jimmy Smith!

    • Hi Ron. Jimmy really did a fantastic job taking an ugly material and making it beautiful. Your comment made me think of John Anderson’s song “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna be a Diamond Some Day)”. Jimmy took an old sheet of OSB and made it into a beautiful, shiny Strat.

  2. Hi Tim. The OSB Strat looks and sound very good. Always love it when people try out something completely different. I came across this video a few months ago:

    • Hi Herman. The colored pencil Strat is cool. Interesting process to make it. I think it would have been better if he would have made it without a pick guard so the front of the body showed all colored pencils, but then he would have had to deal with covering a large cutout in the back of the body.

    • The colored pencil guitar is very interesting, Herman, as is the OSB guitar, Tim. Thank you both! Both sound great! I love to see examples of people’s innovations, and feel inspired.

    • Hi Couriers. The colored pencils Strat is pretty, be the guy didn’t make the neck and fingerboard. If he would have figured out how to engineer a neck and fingerboard out of colored pencils, and made a back cover out of crayons so he didn’t have to use a pick guard on the front of the guitar, the crayon Strat would have been a real marvel.

      The OSB Strat isn’t as colorful as the crayon Strat, however, the OSB Strat is a real accomplishment in the art and science of building guitars by using one material for all the wooden components of the guitar.

  3. The OSB Strat and the colored pencil guitar both have good sounds. In custom guitars, I find it more important to get the body right, particularly with acoustic ones.

    • Hi David. I’m most concerned with playability in both electric and acoustic. As you know, you can change the sound of electric guitars with amps, pickups pedals and strings. The body size, wood and bracing really affects the sound of acoustic guitars. My black concert flamenco guitar has rosewood sides and back. It has a smoother sound than the white flamenco guitars that are made with cypress sides and back. White flamenco guitars are much sharper sounding. Flamenco guitars are light weight and braced to be loud so they can be heard through the singing and dancing, both of which get very loud without amplification.

  4. I was given the opportunity to play the OSB Stratacaster. This is a unique masterful instrument. It feels very light weight yet solid. Really good choice of pickups that create a great tone with no trade off for the light weight materials this was crafted from..
    I grew up walking distance from the Strat Academy. Had this been there during my youth in the 70’s with Jimmie’s guidance I’m sure I would have had a very successful career in the music industry. This is living proof for the Strat Acadmey’s patrons that “we the boomers are never to old to rock”.
    Peace out
    Joel

    • You still ROCK. Thanks, Joel. We all could have used Jimmy’s guidance when we were younger.

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