83-year-old Jefferson Award Winner making guitars to deal with grief

Playing the guitar is what James Schaffer says helped him beat the blues.

"When my wife passed away for the first month I was devastated.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t cry," said James Schaffer.

Luckily, Schaffer had another love.

"I love music.  I’ve loved guitar all my life and I’ve had love for blues music all my life," said Schaffer.

Schaffer’s wife died two years ago from cancer.  Fortunately, right before she was diagnosed he started building guitars.

"I can build a Steel-string guitar in three weeks if I’m working on doing nothing but one guitar. That’s why I can build two or three at time because while the glue is drying on one you can work on another doing something else," said Schaffer.

The 83 year old says he didn’t have the easiest childhood and admits to living a lot of his life in a selfish state of mind. He also acknowledges making some mistakes but says the only thing any of us can do is keep striving to be better.

"I don’t have to look in anybody else’s mirror.  I can’t tell anybody else what to think or feel. I only look in my own mirror.  That’s all I’m worried about," said

So far, Schaffer has made 44 guitars for churches, charities and disabled Veterans.

Every guitar is sealed with a blue bird, a symbol of his love for his wife and the desire to make her proud.



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