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Oil Cans Make Functional Guitars

Bohemian Guitars is a company crafting real, functional guitars that are made from old oil-cans. The company was created by brothers Shaun and Adam Lee. Growing up part-time in Johannesburg, South Africa, they later witnessed, on a return visit, the ingenious use of oil cans by locals to create affordable instruments that they could play.

The impressionable memory created by the South African townsfolk drove the brothers to make guitars themselves, also using recycled oil cans. The outcome proved a bit more sophisticated, resulting in fully-fledged electric guitars.

Rather than imitating the do-it-yourself aesthetic to fit current trends, the bodies of the guitars are genuinely derived from recycled materials. Current collections include the Boho and Vintage series. The former contains guitars with the brand’s name emblazoned on repainted oil cans, while guitars from the latter are clearly products of cans from a former era, i.e. Quaker-Maid.

And, just as they are made from authentically unconventional materials, these guitars do also wield the power to inflict music with the gravity of any major brand, only they impart on the ears a sound uniquely their own. Because of their metal bodies, Bohemian Guitars produce a clear, bluesy twang – a bit jangly, as you may expect from a metallic base. Their shape, obviously cubic, merges well with such twang to create allusions to the famous square guitar graced by the hands of Bo Diddly. Others may be reminded of early metal guitars made in the 1920’s, when electrical amplification wasn’t yet an option – as the 1932 Triolian resonator that served Rory Gallagher well through the later half of the 20th century.

Bohemian Guitars make affordable alternatives to traditional, major brand guitars, and perhaps even some minor brands, when comparing cost against quality. A single guitar from their Boho series runs $299; each has a maple-wood neck and rosewood fingerboard, with 24 frets. They are equipped with tone and volume knobs and will, ostensibly, plug-in to traditional amps, so you needn’t worry about replacing an existing amp if you hadn’t already intended to.

A percentage of their proceeds go towards improving music education in schools through the donation of musical instruments.

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