IF you thought you knew what a guitar looked like, better think again.
Creative Corby resident Tom Bingham has been making his own guitars for 10 years – and they are anything but conventional.
Mr Bingham, 64, of Borrowdale Road, is working on a second version of the Millennium Falcon, which is part of a trilogy of Star Wars guitars.
And two creations, the Higgs Collider and the Busker CBG, came fourth in a guitar-building competition in the USA.
The Higgs Collider includes a miniature hadron and Mr Bingham said: “Assuming my experiment works, the player should disappear and re-emerge in 1966 at the Isle of Wight Festival handing Jimi Hendrix a can of petrol fuel and a zippo lighter.”
The busker guitar has an amplifier built in as well as a zippo lighter, a pick holder, a bottle opener, a vanity mirror, a clock, a penny whistle and 12in cigar “for when the busker hits the big time.”
Others include a vinyl record guitar, chessboard guitar and cricket bat guitar based on a Captain Sensible LP cover from 1982.
Mr Bingham is constantly being offered commissions and money for his work, but he doesn’t sell them or do custom requests.
Instead, he is hoping to find a young guitar maker he can mentor and is also writing a book about the blues guitarist Bert Jansch, who died last year.
Last year, Mr Bingham was awarded lifetime membership of The Society of the Happily Unusual in the USA.
And two of his guitars are going on display at the new art gallery in the old library above Queens Square.
He said: “Most of the stuff I do is online with Google and YouTube. I have got 20 videos up about making guitars.
“I originally started making cigar box guitars but I got bored. Now I just make them out of anything.
“I don’t personally know anyone who does what I do.
“I don’t sell my guitars at all. I give them away to family and friends. And I mention Corby in everything I do.”
Mr Bingham’s achievements are all the more impressive considering he suffers from chronic arthritis, which affects his hands and has led to him having both his knees removed.
He said: “I’m limited to about 15 minutes playing. I would have loved to have been a busker.”