The World’s Only Hemp Guitar...

By David Sherman /the MONTREAL GAZETTE -

Stewart Burrows spends most nights in pubs, playing cover tunes till 3 a.m., give or take, then driving back to the Châteauguay Valley. Waiting for him are his wife and three kids, and 20 heads of cattle from which he sells aged beef; $700 for 100 pounds.

Playing music is how I pay the bills,” he says.

And he has a guitar workshop from where he makes ostensibly the world’s only true hemp guitar...

With partner Boyd Pellow, Burrows, 42, a guitarist, pianist, singer/songwriter and teacher of same, wanted to make a guitar from a sustainable material.

Everything should be made from hemp,” he says.

So he and Pellow started a little business, Canadian Hemp Guitars in Hemmingford, fooling around with hemp and moulds and plastics for about five years to create an electric guitar similar in weight and feel to hardwood.

They sell for $1,150 to $2,000 and are built to order. Most of his inquiries come from out west — Calgary and B.C. to California — where hemp is associated strongly with its derivative, cannabis.

Smoking his guitars is not advised...

The company is a start-up and sales are in the “low double digits,” but Burrows’s ambitions are small. He wants to make 150 to 200 instruments a year.

You’re fighting against juggernauts,” he says. “It’s a tough sell. Most people will buy Fender or Gibson if they’re going to spend $1,500.”

Now they’re selling online, afraid that going into stores will mean they’ll “get lost in a sea of guitars.” He and Pellow, a luthier by training, are counting on guitarists’ penchant for collecting and the novelty of a beautifully finished hemp guitar that’s made here at home.

It’s responsive, built to spec and handmade,” he says.

And if that doesn’t work, well, Burrows can always fall back on making music, ranching and teaching.

I’m a busy guy,” he says.