Build a DIY Rubberband Guitar and Celebrate New York’s Styrofoam Ban

In one of its final acts of 2013, the New York City Coun­cil got with the times, pass­ing a ban on poly­styrene foam food con­tain­ers and non-biodegrad­able pack­ing peanuts.

The wide­ly hailed reform isn’t slat­ed to go into effect for anoth­er year, osten­si­bly to give the con­tain­er indus­try  a chance to squeeze into its envi­ron­men­tal­ist suit. (Good luck with that.)

The delay also affords those of us who live here ample time to stock­pile the offend­ing sub­stance for future home­made musi­cal instru­ments.

If you’re fret­ting over a rel­a­tive lack of instru­ment build­ing expe­ri­ence, relax.Three min­utes is more than enough time for John Bertles, com­pos­er, arts edu­ca­tor and founder of Bash the Trash, to show you how you can make beau­ti­ful music from (most­ly) scav­enged mate­ri­als. (Entire­ly scav­enged, should you luck into a sup­ply of giant rub­ber bands. I pre­sume you have access to the more advanced ver­sion’s paper clips and left­over chop­sticks. That alone jus­ti­fies your soon-to-be Sty­ro-free Pan­da Express deliv­ery habit.)

If you’ve been build­ing rub­ber band gui­tars since nurs­ery school, Bertles’ video les­son still mer­its a lis­ten, to hear how the sort of sounds prac­ticed fin­gers are able to coax from these hum­ble mate­ri­als.

PS: Lest we get hung up on tech­ni­cal­i­ties: Sty­ro­foam is a trade­marked poly­styrene prod­uct of Dow Chem­i­cal. To quote Bertles, who has gen­uine claims on giv­ing it a mean­ing­ful sec­ond life, “great mate­r­i­al for build­ing musi­cal instruments…terrible for the earth.”

Note: If the video above intrigues you, we’d hearti­ly rec­om­mend that you vis­it our pre­vi­ous posts — The Recy­cled Orches­tra: Paraguayan Youth Play Mozart with Instru­ments Clev­er­ly Made Out of Trash and A Young Frank Zap­pa Turns the Bicy­cle into a Musi­cal Instru­ment on The Steve Allen Show (1963)

Above you can watch John mak­ing a card­board tube gui­tar.

Ayun Hal­l­i­day pledges to rock one of these in the 2014 Coney Island Mer­maid Parade. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.