Discovery Place is rocking with a new guitar exhibit


I checked out Discovery Place’s new exhibit Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked The World, which runs all summer, May 30 to September 7. It features nearly 100 artifacts, including more than 60 guitars.

The exhibit sheds light on both the science and the history of the guitar.

To add to the experience, guitarists will perform on the Tryon Street Patio (right outside Discovery Place) every Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.

Ten things I learned during my visit:

(1) The first electric guitar doesn’t look the way I expected.

It looks like a little frying pan and was used to play Hawaiian music.  

first electric guitar and expensive martin guitar

(2) I can’t afford this acoustic guitar.

The guitar to the left of the frying pan guitar is a 1943 Martin D-28 and is worth more than $100,000. No touching.

(3) The world’s largest playable guitar weighs 2,255 pounds.

It’s also 43 feet long and 16 feet wide. It’s a replica of a Gibson Flying V. And, yes, you can touch it, but you will have trouble with the chords.

really big guitar

(4) I can’t remember the riff.

remember the riff(5) Armadillos can’t play guitars but they can be guitars.

The charango is a guitar-like instrument traditionally made in South America from the shell of a quirquincho, a kind of armadillo that is now endangered. Today, the charango is made from wood that is designed to look like a quirquincho shell.


(6) You can make a guitar out of almost anything.

Like this lunchbox. In the “Think it Up” area of Discovery Place, you can even make your own guitar.


(7) The future is bright.

Because guitars made from 3-D printers actually exist.

3d printed guitar

(8) Way back, guitar strings were made of catgut.

But no cats were harmed in the making of the guitars. Catgut is actually made from dried sheep intestines.


(9) Famed guitarist Robert Johnson may or may not have sold his soul to the devil.

Legend has it he traded his soul for the ability to play a mean guitar. The alleged recipient of his soul will be telling his side of the story Saturdays and Sundays during the run of the exhibit. Here’s a snippet of his tale.

(10) You don’t have to know how to play guitar to be a star.

Discovery Place has set up a stage where you can try your hand at making some music. Good news for the rest of us: you’ll wear headphones.


head shotJody Mace is a freelance writer who also publishes the local website Charlotte on the Cheap. Follow Charlotte on the Cheap at @cltcheap and everything else she does at @jody_mace.




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