Watch Billy Gibbons tear it up on a custom Fender Strat made out of cardboard – with Matt Sorum playing cardboard drums

Billy Gibbons and Matt Sorum play carboard instruments for a YouTube segment with Signal Snowboards
(Image credit: Signal Snowboards / YouTube)

Billy Gibbons and Matt Sorum have just shot a jam video in which they compose a song and perform it in the studio playing instruments made out of cardboard. Yes, that is Gibbons on a cardboard Strat, and Sorum behind a cardboard drum set

“Man, do I have something for you,” says Matt Sorum to Billy Gibbons as they arrive at GoodNoise Studio in Palm Springs, California. He was not wrong. In the sanctity of the studio there lies a Fender Custom Shop hardshell guitar case, inside which there is an electric guitar that makes a mockery of our obsession with tone wood. It’s a Stratocaster all right, only this super lightweight model is made out of cardboard.

“Oh, man! I can see through it,” says Gibbons. But can he play through it? That’s the question. The segment was shot for the Cardboard Sessions on Signal Snowboards’ YouTube Channel, and in keeping with the format, Gibbons and Sorum are under pressure to find inspiration right there and then. “I got it,” says Gibbons. “Cuttin’ Up Paper.” And with that, they get to work. 

Gibbons has played some guitars in his time but surely none quite like this. The custom cardboard Stratocaster dates back to a 2015 project. In collaboration with Ernest Packaging, Signal Snowboards’ co-founder Dave Lee presented Fender Master Builder Paul Waller with a bunch of cardboard from used packaging. 

The idea was to see if they could make a guitar that performed as well as any other instrument to roll off the shop floor in Corona, California. Or maybe one that just played at all. The biggest challenge, said Waller, was taking the “notoriously weak” cardboard and making it strong enough to withstand the 250lbs of torque placed on the neck from the strings. 

Even the neck and headstock is cardboard. The material is not what the Fender Custom Shop is used to dealing with, and so Waller hand-cut the body, giving it a ‘50s Strat body profile.

“The fact it plays at all is kinda remarkable,” said Dennis Galuszka, Master Builder at Fender. “It’s cardboard.”

But this doesn’t just sound like a Strat – watch the video documenting its production, the Big F’s production team can’t believe it when they play it – it actually sounds good, especially when Gibbons puts it through a Magnatone Super 59 tube amp

The drum kit has a similar origin story. Once more, Signal got Ernest to source the raw materials, with Sahir Hanif of Master Of Maple applying the know-how to put together a kit that’s worthy of not just Sorum and drummers such as Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots – who was appropriately appointed test pilot for the set.

Other Cardboard sessions have featured Battles, J Mascis and Swollen Brain. Check them out at the Signal Snowboards YouTube channel.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.