Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Yes we can

Gosh, I’m tempted to snag myself one of these. I love the idea of musical instruments made out of unusual materials, and vintage oil cans are like — why didn’t I think of that?! As you can hear in the clip below, they sound great too, perfect for blues.

Guitar maker Joe Filipovich of Hayburner Guitars, along with his business partner, Mike Jenson, find vintage oil cans on Ebay n’ such, then clean them and fit them with high-quality electric guitar parts, like hand-wound Humbuckers and Orange Drop capacitors. Good stuff. Joe says the metal cans react to the magnets in the pickups, producing a rich, unique tone.

Above and beyond that, though, these things are fricking art. I’d hang one on the wall, though it’d probably wind up spending more time on my lap.

People have been making guitars out of all kinds of things forever, including cigar boxes, skateboards, license plates, and snare drums. I don’t know what possesses someone to do it — necessity sometimes, as in the case of a lot of the old Delta blues guys — but I’m glad they’re driven to be so creative. Makes things interesting for the rest of us.

I asked Joe how he got started with Hayburner, and it turns out that it’s one of those cool garage-based operations à la the “maker movement.” He had some old guitar parts lying around last September and put Mike’s soldering skills to work on a prototype with an old oil can as the guitar body. It took a little while to build “an instrument that made noise,” as Joe puts it, but they succeeded. Joe’s a terrific blues/roots guitarist too, so he plays Hayburners in his own shows.

In school I once made an instrument out of a funnel, part of a turkey baster, and a comb and wax paper. It was a kazoompet. Sounded awful, but it was definitely a conversation starter.

Check out more pics at Hayburner and watch some of the demonstration videos. Joe and Mike are busy out there making things interesting for the rest of us.

  [Photo by Joe Filipovich, reproduced with permission.]


5 comments on “Yes we can

  1. Tripper
    May 6, 2017

    REALLY cool – these are a lot of fun! I’ve played a few and have seen some great performances with an oil can guitar – Samantha Fish just kills it. I just published a post on my blog featuring an artist that plays a wide range of “junk made” guitars. Check it out!

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 6, 2017

      Just followed your blog, Tripper. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do there! Seasick Steve looks like he’s one of a kind. 😉

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 6, 2017

      PS, Tripper — Joe is also in Minnesota. Maybe you guys should put a show together!

      • Funny – I was familiar with the Oil Can Guitars they do. Nice to have found a connection. Thanks!

  2. John W. Howell
    May 6, 2017

    Very interesting. Super idea.

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2017 by in Music and tagged , .
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