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Sun., Oct. 4
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Ogdensburg musician invents new guitar


OGDENSBURG – Musician Patrick C. Duffy has created a sound that’s all his own.

A second-generation woodworker by day, Mr. Duffy has built several of his own electric and small acoustic guitars. His latest creation, called the Gumdrop, is the perfect medley of comfort and sound.

“I wasn’t looking for it,” he said. “I play all the time. Sometimes when you are up on stage and playing a big bulky acoustic, it’s not comfortable. Also, it’s kind of a pain to get the sound right.”

Unlike traditional acoustic guitars which feature one large sound hole, the Gumdrop features a short body with several small sound ports lined with tubes. The design, Mr. Duffy said, projects sound like a home theater system, but it is also made to sit comfortably in your lap.

“The technology is simple, like a bass reflex speaker,” he said. “The sound gets trapped in the speaker box; the wavelengths resonate in the tubes before they are released back out the ports.”

The result, he said, is a richer, more amplified sound.

“But it does more than amplify,” he said. “It also produces an echo. It conditions the sound, too.”

Mr. Duffy, a 53 year-old Ogdensburg native who left college a semester before he was eligible to receive his Bachelor’s degree, said he was surprised no one had thought of the idea before.

“Acoustics haven’t changed much in the last fifty years,” he said.

A fixture in the local music scene, he often plays his gumdrop guitar at shows.

“People who come up to me are often surprised by how the sound carries,” he said. “Most times, you don’t need an amplifier.”

His first prototype was made with cherry, tiger maple, Birdseye maple and walnut wood from his woodworking shop. The box of his gumdrop guitar is made from pine from his father’s, James T. Duffy, former woodshop.

Music, Mr. Duffy said, was also a gift from his father.

“My father was also a singer,” he said. “He liked jazz, big band, Sinatra and opera and even performed in a production of Pirates and Penzance.”

Mr. Duffy, a Lynyrd Skynyrd and White Stripes fan, said he would have to wait until his father left the house to play rock music.

His mother, Ann Duffy, a school teacher at Madill Elementary School, also encouraged his love of music.

“At the end of the day she would gather the kids around the piano and sing songs together with them,” he said. “She had one of the best voices I had ever heard. That’s really where the music comes from.”

Mr. Duffy decided he wanted to make guitars at the age of 19 after he moved to Kalamazo, MI, where the Gibson Guitar Corp. was founded.

Mr. Duffy is currently perfecting his prototype’s design with the help of Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation engineers. He hopes to license the idea to a guitar manufacturing company.

“Right now, I am focused on getting my name out there and introducing the guitar to the public,” he said. “Right now my design is patent-pending.”

Mr. Duffy said he plans to play his gumdrop guitar at his next gig at Sully’s Tavern, 901 Ford St., 9 p.m. Friday.

“Writing music and performing has been my main career,” he said. “My songs are my journal for the last 30 plus years. My music has grown over that time to include many genres. It’s what I love to do.”

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