‘Artwork of imperfection’: San Francisco Bay Space man brings life to previous objects by creating musical devices

EL SOBRANTE, Calif. (KGO) – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and so is an East Bay man who brings old items back to life.

Steve Zwetsch combines improbable objects to create folk musical art. Five years ago Zwetsch came across a YouTube video of a guitar made from cigar boxes that was fascinated by the instrument.

As an autodidact, Zwetsch rose to the challenge and began to build the instrument in his cellar. Before the pandemic, he made five cigar box guitars a year, but after his bakery business was impacted by COVID-19, he made 14 guitars in six months.

Plum is able to resume a beloved hobby with the hope of profit.

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“What made me do it was the kind of music the guy was playing,” Zwetsch said. “He played an old blues song from the 1940s and I’m fascinated by that kind of music. Then I made one (cigar box guitar) and I could actually play it, that was exciting.”

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: This East Bay man is plucking his way through a pandemic creating guitars with improbable items to create folk art and music. pic.twitter.com/GnUzARu3TD

– ABC7 Melissa Pixcar (@ MelissaABC7) October 3, 2020

Zwetsch was unable to tease a normal size guitar due to a ligament injury on his left wrist. Since cigar box guitars are smaller, he can play the instrument with ease.

“Smaller body guitars are just easier to play, which is why a lot of people start with them,” said Zwetsch. “I can get all grades and don’t have to put as much pressure on my wrist.”

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Despite the coronavirus shutdown, the design of cigar box guitars has given Zwetsch an opportunity to think outside the box.

“I used a lot of different objects to build guitars,” said Zwetsch. “I made one out of a metal biscuit gift box. A pool shelf. I made one out of a bed pan. I used wine boxes. Anything that has a body that resonates with sound.”

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Zwetsch picks for items through flea markets, junkyards and his own garage to build the guitars.

“I like to call that the art of imperfection. It takes things that shouldn’t be together,” said Zwetsch. “A lot of the hardware I use is drawer pulls, knobs, and various things that I can find.”

He enjoys taking things that would otherwise end up in a landfill and “bringing them back to life”.

“These things are fun to do, and I do them more for art value than anything else,” said Zwetsch. “Then the fact that it has created more art with the music you can play with it is just phenomenal.”

Visit the Cigar Box Kitchen website for more information.

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