A playable work of art

Sep 6 • Arts, Feature StoryNo Comments on A playable work of art

Noel Marentette can most often be found pickin’ and a grinnin’ when near a musical instrument.

But the local musician put his hands to a different use recently, creating a rather unique box guitar in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday year.

It sports a vintage 1962 Ontario license plate as its face, hand-whittled pegs as its tuning keys, and bolts for the nut and bridge.

In building the instrument, Marentette kept things simple, using a hand-crank drill when needed to make holes, and a steak knife to carve out slots in the headstock.

It’s not the first box guitar he has made.

“As a musician, I had an interest in researching early stringed instruments,” he said. “I found out how they were originally made.”

Marentette began with making guitars by putting beer cans together. He moved onto cigar box guitars before creating his 150 effort.

Marentette said the idea for the Canada 150 guitar came to him when he found the Ontario 1962 license plate.

“I knew I had to make a box. Why not make this instrument on a theme – Canada’s 150th birthday,” he said.

Three sides of the guitar’s frame showcase elements of Canada’s history, such as Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, Terry Fox … and hockey.

The musician didn’t buy anything to make the instrument.

“It’s 99 per cent recycled parts I found here or there; some I’ve picked out of a parking lot,” he said, pointing to a rusty fleur-de-lis that adorns the guitar head.

He hand-whittled the tuning pegs.

While the instrument may not look like much to some but would be appreciated by others, it is important to Marentette.

“This is my quintessential nugget in my contribution to Canada’s 150th birthday. I will never sell it; never get rid of it,” he said.



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