Visit New York City's Bedford Avenue L subway station on any given day, and you will see a huge crowd gathered around musician Ben Simon, as he strums away on one of his funky guitars, which can only be described as pieces of art!
Ben's foray into creating unusual guitars was quite accidental. In 2005, the young musician who went to an arts high school, accepted a job at a custom woodworking shop. The owners allowed him to use the workshop for his own projects after hours, allowing Ben's creative juices to flow freely.
His first guitar was carved from 15 varieties of exotic and domestic woods, and included GFS Pickups, a Hipshot Trilogy Bridge and a built in Digital Delay. It looked and sounded so good, that Ben was hooked.
The artist says that each of his creations take him about two months to build, since they are all unique and require different skills. Also, since he has been honing his woodworking skills for only five years now, he still has a lot to learn.
While Ben has built many funky guitars, his most creative one so far, is a 19-pound guitar-keyboard-drum, which he calls Guitar 2-D2. The massive robotic instrument, which uses 16 different sized rechargeable batteries, sports five speakers, almost 70 buttons and 10 dials, is a medley of instruments rolled into one!
He came up with the idea whilst touring with a music band in Europe. Halfway during the tour, the drummer went crazy and abandoned the band. After that, Ben decided to become a one-man band, so as not to depend on anyone again.
It took Ben five weeks of hard work to built the contraption, which includes a built-in circuit bent Yamaha keyboard, a Boss drum machine and 3 amps. Even Ben was surprised at how good it sounds.
Ben's next project is even more fun. He is currently in the process of filming a documentary, playing his latest creation - a guitar based on Star Trek, complete with a voice changer. The documentary will feature how he built the guitar and the kind of reactions he gets from passerby's as he plays it on the streets of New York.
Ben is currently unemployed and does not make much money playing his instruments in subway stations - However, his dream is not to become rich selling his fun guitars, but to teach underprivileged children how to build them and he is hoping to find a sponsor to help him. We sure hope he finds one soon!