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JD Grinnell is a diversified artist, with his display of electric guitars on display at the Crook County Library, along with his oil paintings

PHOTO BY LEXI TOMBLESON - JD Grinnell displays his iconic 2x4 guitar. It was the second guitar he designed.Local artist, JD Grinnell, exemplifies his diversity on art forms, from oil paintings to his own crafted electric guitar collection.

The oil paintings of Grinnell grace the walls of Rick Steber & Company—Makers, the Prineville St. Charles Health Center and the Crook County Library. For art enthusiasts, his works personify the high desert and Central Oregon culture. In addition to these works of art, Grinnell also has a collection of electric guitars that he has built and are currently on display at the library.

Grinnell is a retired graphic artist and began seriously painting in oils approximately five years ago. He began his craft of building guitars approximately 10 years ago, when he was part of a band. He is an example of the fact that any time in life is good to begin artwork, whether it is painting or building guitars.

"I was playing guitar in a band and got interested in repairing the guitars to make them play easier. I just got interested in all the techniques of electric guitars — the electronics, the fretboard, how they are tuned and what different pickups do," explained Grinnell. "It occurred to me that it would just be a fun project if I were to build one of my own."

His first guitar was made from alternating strips of wood, with a strip of walnut running through the center of the body. All the wood was at different angles for more interest. He added that the first guitar was a lot of fun to build.

"I had a woodshop, and so doing this was easy to do and made it more interesting," he added.

Grinnell emphasized that the magic of electric guitars is that the body of the guitar does not matter.

"You could build an electric guitar using a fencepost—it just does not matter. All of the sound is in the pickup and the amplifier and the things that happen after the guitar. That mean that you have got complete latitude to pick any wood you want in any shape you want."

He belongs to a woodworking group, and in one of the meetings, he asked if anyone in the membership had slabs of interesting wood that they would be willing to sell. He picked up some interesting pieces and carved them in the shape of a guitar.

"They were really pretty, so I thought that was a lot of fun. It occurred to me, if you could make a guitar out of really pretty woods that you could polish up and make look nice, could you make a guitar out of something that was not pretty?" Grinnell explained of his next guitar.

He decided to build it out of 2x4's. Even though it was unusual, he designed it to fit the wood together into a shape that still fit on your lap comfortably and also could be hung by a strap by your neck. The guitar is on display at the library, along with his first guitar, his redwood burl guitar and his steam punk guitar.

Even though Grinnell began his oil painting and guitar building in the past 10 years, he has been an artist his entire working career.

"My career was in graphic design, so I have been doing art for a long time," he explained of his background as an artist.

Grinnell retired from his career with Gillette Razors five years ago. He built a home that is at least 30 miles east of Prineville. He had lots of things to do on his property in the summer, but the winters got long, so he paints and creates electric guitars.

"I have been a woodworker as a hobby for a long time, and so I had this nice shop to work in. I don't know how I transitioned into painting," he concluded about his transition into oil painting.


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