Visitors to John Dixon’s Nelson home could be forgiven for thinking he’s something of a motoring nut, but the large hubcap collection at his garage door, in his kitchen and taking over his spare room serve a special purpose.
For the last two years John’s been reincarnating the shiny disks into musical instruments, in the form of slide guitars.
Blues fan John idolises the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hound Dog Taylor and first began making guitars after he and a friend saw a clip of someone playing a slide guitar made from a cigar box.
“I tracked down an old cigar box and my mate had a bit of mahogany for the neck. All I needed to buy were the strings and machine heads to attach them to,” John says.
Thinking it looked too bland, he decorated it with bits and bobs he had lying around, including a couple of old sink plugholes.
“It wasn’t a rush’n’bust project but it only took a day really. When I tuned it up and played it I thought: ‘this is bloomin’ brilliant’.”
He was then further inspired by a video clip of someone playing a guitar made from hubcaps and decided to give that a go.
After a trip to the car wreckers, he set to work adding bits of an ashtray, some serving spoons, a metal steamer and part of a door handle to raise the strings from the neck (which was part of an old bed).
“I have to use native timber. There’s a 150lb pull on the strings so it has to be something that won’t bend.”
He uses old spoons, colanders and bits of ceiling fans to hold the hub caps together. Other ‘bling’ as he calls it includes garlic crushers, coins, keys and jewellery, all either donated by friends or gathered from the recycling centre.
He sells his three-stringed masterpieces at country fairs.
“Slide guitars are quite unusual,” John says. “They all sound different but they’re really cool, especially hooked up to an amplifier. People are surprised because they rock!”