Burls Art unveils his best build to date – a guitar crafted almost entirely from newspaper

Burls Art Newspaper guitar
(Image credit: Burls Art/YouTube)

You’ve probably heard of the term tonewood, but are you familiar with the term tonepaper? Well, neither were we until we laid eyes on Burls Art’s latest wild invention: an electric guitar crafted entirely from sheets of newspaper.

Given the intrepid YouTuber’s track record, we really shouldn’t be too surprised by Burl Art’s penchant for mesmerizing and baffling six-string creations, but never could we imagine that paper could be used to create a solid, fully functioning electric.

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all from the engineer – whose highlights include guitars crafted from 50lbs of salt, skateboards, colored pencils and epoxy resin – Burls Art goes ahead and exceeds his lofty expectations.

His latest custom creation is arguably one of his most complex and time-consuming. Paper is, after all, a pretty flimsy material to work with, especially when you’re attempting to make it withstand up to 20lbs of electric guitar string tension. The solution? Well, just more paper: lots and lots and lots of paper.

700 sheets, to be precise, which were glued together, sandwiched between planks of wood and vacuum sealed to create solid newspaper slabs. Cut into smaller sections, the paper strips were then stacked alongside one another to create one almighty, slab-of-wood-like piece of material.

The process is repeated for the neck, which is carved from a solid piece of paper and fitted with a fretboard made of – you guessed it – more paper.

Once the body is fitted with its flamed front page veneer, Burls Art gets the bulk of the guitar ready with some binding and body shaping, before fitting the fretboard with similar edging to stop the paper from fraying.

After some trial and error with the bridge unit, the axe is finally loaded with pickups, wired up and good to go. And, as it turns out, newspaper makes from some stunning six-string visuals – those “grains” on the back and sides wouldn’t look amiss on a normal guitar.

It also sounds pretty good too – mellow with some nice low-end – though we can’t imagine we’ll be opting for newspaper over alder or mahogany when we’re next in the market. Having said that, we wonder how printer paper or magazine paper compares?

To check out the rest of Burls Art’s builds, head over to his YouTube channel (opens in new tab).

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.