Andy Immel of Wausau, Wisconsin, sent me an email about the Djentstick, a one-string unitar made from a 2x4 and an EMG pickup.
There’s nothing to the instrument, really. No frets. No body.
The instrument is identical in spirit to Willie Joe and His Unitar, the 1950s blues iconoclast featured in this column a few weeks ago. It’s also the loud brother of the diddley bow.
Just as some djent guitarists deconstruct metal to a more primal form, sometimes devoid of melody and clear musical tones, the Djentstick is the type of tool that forces the player to deconstruct their playing and approach.
There’s nowhere to hide with only one string.
Immel got the idea to build his own after seeing the Djentstick’s inventor, Miguel Yépez, in a viral video featuring a one-string cover of an After the Burial song.
After cobbling his own Djentstick together and getting some assistance with pickup wiring from Jeff Sandbom of Sandbom Guitars, Immel has incorporated the elemental guitar into his music.
Unlike Yépez’s fretless bass style of playing, Immel incorporates slide guitar and violin bow techniques for a more psychedelic approach.
Immel said he recorded with his Djentstick on a song by the Merrill, Wisconsin, band Wolves and Co. Look for the release soon.
There’s going to be a slew of comments displaying utter disgust for the “waste of space taken in Guitar World for a stupid 2x4 one-string guitar.” I get it. I expect it. However, I think it’s time we start deconstructing the music we play and the instruments we play it on so we can rebuild them back up and create something new.
And what if somebody took the Djentstick concept to the extreme? If the homemade Djentstick is the guitar of the band, what would the drums and bass equivalent be? What instruments could be invented to make the sound even more brutal?
Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at ShaneSpeal.com. Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.