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Play Us A Tune: Figured I'd Make A Guitar

Tony Norris

During this time of separation and social distancing, there is one thing that can unite nearly all humans on the planet…music. Long-time KNAU listeners will be familiar with the music of Bill Burke. His banjo and guitar tunes have played as music beds during Morning Edition and Weekend Edition for years. Bill also hand-crafts custom guitars, and during the pandemic, he’s built a beauty. In this week’s installment of Play Us a Tune, Bill introduces us to his new guitar and treats us to several of his favorite tunes, strung together in the key of E. 

BB: I’d like to talk a little bit about what’s happened in the last month – well, 3 months – in my life. It’s just been sitting around and trying to stay focused, and one of the ways I’ve done that was to spend some time building a guitar. That’s what I’m going to play for you in a little bit here.

I made the guitar out of spruce on the top, which is very typical. But then the sides and the back are mesquite, and the top is, I think, a piece of Appalachian spruce, but I’m not sure about that, and the neck is cherry wood.

Credit Tony Norris
Bill Burke made this custom guitar during the pandemic

I’m very happy with the way it sounds and, almost more importantly, is it feels really good in my hands.

Here’s a few tunes I’ve been playing for 55 years or so.

(Deep River Blues, Doc Watson, Nine Pound Hammer, Merle Travis, and Make Me a Pallet From Mississippi, John Hurt.)