Marlon Roxas is a luthier and YouTuber from the Philippines who specialises in using epoxy resin and natural materials to make some exquisite instruments, and for his latest creation he has gathered 10,000 leaves and turned them into a sweet-sounding electric guitar.
How could we describe this as though it were a commercially available guitar? That this autumnal double-cut electric has a body of laminated leaf litter and epoxy resin?
The process begins under a canopy of trees. Proving that Roxas has a sense of humanity, he leaves the leaf blower at home, choosing instead to harvests the leaves by hand in the company of his beagle.
There is a lesson here for those who might want to try this at home once the leaves turn brown; you can combine the materials gathering process with the dog walk but don’t expect the dog to help. Here, the beagle does as dogs are wont to do, taking a leaf back out of the back and having a chew, then relieving itself against the side of the bag.
But then this is the sort of moral support you need when starting a project like this. The idea came to Roxas while camping. When you have already made a bass ukulele and an acoustic-electric hybrid that looks like a homemade acoustasonic, turning leaves into something you can play is achievable.
Once the leaves are gathered. It’s time to pour the epoxy resin and start assembling the body, its outline sketched on the board beneath. The leaves are layered and clamped. Once the clamp is taken off, more epoxy is applied. The only problem was the leaves were not flat.
A heating blanket set to 130º celsius refines the process but it still takes three weeks to stack and layer enough leaves to make the body. Once it is at the required thickness, Roxas cuts it to shape and sands down the edges. More epoxy is applied.
Next up is the neck, finishing the six-in-line headstock, affixing the fretboard. While that is resting, Roxas applies a top coat of resin to the body to make those leaves pop, then starts chamfering the body. Now it starts to look like a guitar. Albeit one that looks as though the forest floor has risen up and taken shape. Roxas routes it for a single humbucker at the neck position.
The wooden control knobs and pressed-leaved control plate cover are a nice touch. It looks the part. It sounds it too, with Roxas demoing it through a Flatsons mini guitar amp. You can check out the process in the video above, and Roxas’ other builds at his Gitara Maker YouTube channel.