DANVILLE -- William Veazey has owned three guitars in his life -- but the one he prizes the most is the one he built with his own hands.

He recalls every step of the labor of love: how he picked out each of his parts -- the body, the neck, the headstock and all of its other essential pieces. And he still remembers how at first the wooden parts were still rough and unhewn, so he had to sand them down and round out their edges.

"We've literally bled on these guitars, some of us," said Veazey, 17, a Monte Vista High School junior, laughing. During the sanding itself, fingers and fingernails sometimes hit the splintered wood, he explained with pride: "We literally put our sweat and blood into the process. ... They are like our babies."

Dylan Chan, left, 18, and Doug Partridge,16, both from Danville,  work on tuning-up their electric guitars they made in their physics and engineering
Dylan Chan, left, 18, and Doug Partridge,16, both from Danville, work on tuning-up their electric guitars they made in their physics and engineering technology class at Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif., on Friday, June 6, 2014. Each student started with a kit and the class assembled 23 guitars during the semester. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

Veazey is one of 30 students enrolled in the high school's Physics and Engineering Technology class, which teaches them all about the physics of sound and sound waves, electricity and magnetism by allowing them to build their own electrical guitars.

Started in February, the three-month program is partly funded by a National Science Foundation grant, which allows students to build the guitars step-by-step as they also learn lessons in physics and engineering. Kids also have an option to buy their guitar-making kits for about $200 apiece so that once they complete them, they can decorate their very own guitars and take them home. Rodger Johnson, who teaches the physics portion of the class, said that the hands-on approach really appeals to students.


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"I think it really helps to tie into student interest -- and it makes it real for them," he said.

And by the end of the course, "they're stunned," he said. "Literally, every year, we'll have one or two kids who come in and say, 'this is amazing, and I'm so proud.' "

Mike Huntsman, who teaches the engineering portion of the class, said that many shop classes have been eliminated in the district and others, so for many students it's their first real experience building something with their hands in school.

Some of the custom work done on an electric guitar made by a student in the physics and engineering technology class at Monte Vista High School in
Some of the custom work done on an electric guitar made by a student in the physics and engineering technology class at Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif., on Friday, June 6, 2014. Each student started with a kit and the class assembled 23 guitars during the semester. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

On a recent Friday morning, the students were buzzing about their workshop and classroom, putting finishing touches on their newly-crafted guitars, putting in the last of their frets and strings and testing them out. Some had lasered on designs, a dragon, initials or cityscapes, to the bodies of their guitars.

Others were gathered in a mini-jam session outside and testing out their newly made axes, with mini-amps. They were playing some of their favorite ballads, a little Shins here, a little Modest Mouse there.

Noah Congdon, 17, a junior, sat in the circle strumming his guitar with classmates Gabe Velasco, 17, Jordan Tam, 17, Brian Cheng, 16, and David Hungerman, 18. They said that most of them already knew how to play guitar but not how they make sound -- at least according to the laws of physics -- so the class has made playing guitar an even richer experience for them.

"It's really useful," Congdon said. "I get to build it and play it, and also understand how it works -- inside and out."

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Samantha Londynsky, 17, of Alamo, works on tuning the electric guitar she made in her physics and engineering technology class at Monte Vista High School
Samantha Londynsky, 17, of Alamo, works on tuning the electric guitar she made in her physics and engineering technology class at Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif., on Friday, June 6, 2014. Each student started with a kit and the class assembled 23 guitars during the semester. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)