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June 19, 2014

Norman singer inventive with instruments

NORMAN — Norman singer/songwriter Kyle Reid is a man of many talents, besides the obvious ones that are pleasing to the ears.

Not only does he play guitar, he has constructed dozens of them from discarded cigar boxes. Reid will conduct a 2014 Jazz in June clinic on the art, craft and philosophy of unconventional instruments at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave.

“My parents bought me my first regular guitar when I was 15,” Reid said.

That’s a typical American scenario, and he became obsessed with playing it every day after school. What’s atypical is that Reid wanted to understand his instrument’s mechanics.

“My parents had table and band saws and routers and helped me build an electric guitar,” he said. “We got a book on how to do it, bought the hardware and cut the body out of wood.”

The result was an instrument that played just fine, and his folks still have it.

“I was lucky because my parents have never been afraid to make something if we needed it,” he said. “My dad had a good job, but it was more just a state of mind that if you could build something yourself, you did.”

Reid went to the Oklahoma University and earned an engineering physics degree in 2010. While in school, he also was a performing musician. It came to Reid’s attention that one of his musical heroes, Tom Waits, sometimes played a cigar box guitar. He became interested in the primitive instruments. They were probably first made in 1840s America and later became popular with Civil War soldiers.

“I knew I could make one and that playing it would be something different to catch people’s attention,” Reid said. “I built my first one in 2011 and it sounded pretty good.”

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