Cricket bats, shovels and biscuit boxes aren’t exactly materials your everyday guitar is built from, but Port Lincoln local Craig Koen is proving that anything can make music.
The Eyre Peninsula musician uses recycled materials – often picked up at local garage sales – to create steampunk-inspired guitars and has garnered recognition for his quirky designs, which he now sells to customers worldwide out of his business CK Instruments.
“Just last week a man from Tennessee (USA) rang to ask about ordering one, he wants it for a post-apocalyptic show production he is part of,” Craig says.
While he sells many of the electric guitars online, Craig has also found success with tourists visiting the seaside town and is currently preparing for the next cruise ship season, which is expected to bring in around 16 ships and scores of tourists to Port Lincoln over five months.
“We have a little marketplace we set up on the foreshore when the ships are here with local stalls. Last year I sold around 19 guitars and I have around 50 to sell this season,” Craig says.
“The tourists are looking for something different when they visit. Around 20% of my buyers can’t play a note on guitar, they just like the way they look and want to hang them up.”
Skateboards, hubcaps and even bed pans have been the base of some of Craig’s instruments – while a woman has recently reached out to see if he would be interested in making a guitar out of a prosthetic leg.
“I have a bit of a saying, ‘everything’s a guitar part, it just doesn’t know it yet’,” he says.
Craig first began tinkering with the craft after coming across a tin-box ukulele in 2005 and attempting to recreate it with a biscuit tin; since then he has made countless instruments, honing his welding, sawing and sanding skills along the way.
“It’s gotten easier and quicker over the years, the simplest ones only take a few days because of the glue now I’ve got better equipment and tools,” Craig says.
“But those tools didn’t come all at once, I’ve built up over the years. I’m the only one really doing this here, there are a few people making more normal guitars here in Port Lincoln.”
Although each instrument is fully functional Craig says it’s impossible to know what the finished product will sound like until the cords are strung.
“I love plugging them in and seeing what they sound like because I really have no idea until the strings are on there,” he says.
“Hopefully if the timber’s good the sound is good but sometimes there might be something in there that vibrates, and I’ll have to hunt it down and build it again.
“I won’t settle for buggy strings or anything; these are made to play, and they play well.”Jump to next article