|By Tom Wilemon, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jul. 2, 2005 - BILOXI -- The guitar-shaped sign for the Biloxi Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is so big that it will arrive in eight pieces over four days beginning Tuesday.
"It shatters the world's record," said Todd Ducote, shop foreman and designer at Kojis and Sons Sign Inc., which built the $1.9 million guitar.
At 112 feet tall, it rises as high as an 11-story building. When it is erected in front of the $235 million casino resort being built in Biloxi, it will be the largest guitar sign at any Hard Rock Cafe.
"The sign will become a unique tourist attraction in itself for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I think everyone will agree how exciting this moment is for Mississippi and for our community," said Joe Billhimer, president of the Biloxi Hard Rock.
Kojis, which is based in Bunkie, La., developed a special tool to cut the radius on the giant replica of an electric guitar and expanded its warehouse to make room for the specialized job. The sign will be a replica of an HP Signature guitar named for Hartley Peavey, the founder of Meridian-based Peavey Electronics Corp.
It takes 1.5 million volts of electricity to illuminate the sign. An exhaust system circulates air in the sign's interior.
"All these transformers would build up so much heat on the inside that it would ruin the electrical components and make it unserviceable," Ducote said.
The giant guitar is designed to withstand winds up to 180 mph.
"The foundation starts 90 feet under with 12 concrete pilings," Ducote said. "Base columns weigh roughly around 40,000 pounds."
It will have 6,210 feet of neon.
The sign makers crafted the guitar to create the illusion that its strings are vibrating.
The eight pieces range in weight from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds. They should arrive at the site around 11 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The sign company began building the guitar Jan. 27.
"We are extremely pleased with the quality and detail of the guitar," Billhimer said. "Kojis Sign Company did a wonderful job on the replication."
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