It Might Get Weird: The Frirsz Filmocaster Guitar

We’ve seen many weird guitars made out of strange materials (a bull’s skull, a girl mannequin and a toilet seat, to name a few), but a film reel is one of the most unusual items we’ve ever encountered used for a guitar body.

What’s even more unusual is that this highly unorthodox guitar, called the Filmocaster, was conceived and built by Nicholas Frirsz, who has specialized in building violins for four decades.

“I’ve made my living building classic violins by hand,” Frirsz says, “so I was surprised by the enthusiastic reaction to these guitars. I sent photos of the prototype to friends, and they sent them to their friends. Now I get emails from all over the world asking about the Filmocaster.”

The Filmocaster’s body is made from a vintage, art deco–style Goldberg Brothers film reel from the Thirties. “I discovered one in an antique shop in Vermont,” Frirsz recalls. “I began to think about saving this little part of film history and bringing it to a brand new audience. This reel reminds me of matinees and audiences that packed cinemas back then. My apprentices found 40 of them in a warehouse, so I’m limiting production to just 40 guitars.”

Frirsz offers the Filmocaster with various options. One has a built-in five-watt amp and speaker, and another has a Korg Kaossilator Pro controller. “Every guitar has a little something special added in,” Frirsz explains. “Some have classic vintage humbuckers while others have handwound hot rods.

The Stetsbar tremolo does not require a recessed pocket for installation, and it’s smooth as silk. The reel is cast aluminum, so the weight is light and the body is completely grounded and shielded, which makes it a good, quiet ax for the studio and stage. This is a functional piece of art with historical significance, and it’s a really smoking guitar.”

The price for a base model Filmocaster starts at $3,000.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.