They've got some bones to pick

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Dave Gilberd and Bruce Mahalski with their bone guitar
KEVIN STENT/ Fairfax NZ
UNIQUE: Dave Gilberd and Bruce Mahalski made their guitar from animal bones.

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Make no bones about it - it's more art than music, but this guitar is still the first of its kind.

Artist Bruce Mahalski and guitar-maker Dave Gilberd, both of Wellington, have built what is thought to be the first guitar made from bone and wood, and it's up for grabs for $5400.

The body of the acoustic, steel-string guitar is made of spruce and mahogany, covered with hundreds of animal bone and teeth fragments.

"There are a few bits and pieces from protected species in it," said Mahalski, explaining that it had to be taken off Trade Me.

The listing was up for about two days, but was taken down because it breached the website's policy on protected and endangered species.

Mahalski said all the fragments were found or gifted, and no animals were harmed, but he was still trying to get something on paper to that effect.

Bone from dozens of different types of animals contributed to the guitar, including part of a moa's jawbone plucked from a box of moa bones bought for $30 at a Dunbar Sloane auction.

Gilberd had made a prototype guitar which was lying in his workshop and, seeing Mahalski's signature bone creations at the studio next door, asked him if he'd like to collaborate.

The pair spent about six weeks figuring out how to make it work. Replacing the fretboard with cow rib means the guitar is playable only with a slide, and the weight of the materials has changed the sound.

"It makes more noise than we thought it would, but it's a bit quieter and less responsive than a normal guitar," said Gilberd, who runs Goldbeard Guitars.

Both Gilberd and Mahalski say it's more of a work of art than a guitar, though.

"If you put one beautiful thing next to another, the amount of beauty is increased exponentially," said Mahalski.

"So it's hundreds and hundreds of what I regard as beautiful bones in this object which by themselves people wouldn't rate that much, but when you put it all together in a context like this hopefully people can gain a new appreciation of them."

The guitar will be part of a window display at clothing store Hunters and Collectors from tomorrow.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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