Uniquely African, perfectly playable and truly representative of the essence of the continent’s rich traditional handmade guitar building heritage. Africa has a rare ability to collect and recycle scrap materials into all sorts of useful and interesting objects. The 5 litre oil can is no exception. What emerged was a truly AFRICAN musical instrument establishing it’s own unique style of music which is still affectionately referred to as “ramkiekie”.
The Township Oilcan Guitar was engineered on the original Khoi “ramkietjie” guitar developed by early Khoisan African tribes. First examples of the “blik guitar” surfaced in the late 1800’s at the hands of the indiginous Xhoi or Bushmen people making use of the discarded materials of the European settlers.
The early guitar was made from a gourd, a large fruit with a hard skin, and it has been theorized that it got its name from the Portuguese word ‘rabequinha’ – meaning ‘little violin’. Although the ramkie guitar can be made from various materials, its base structure is the same throughout South Africa. The ‘modern’ version of the guitar is made from a hollowed oil can, or anything similar in weight and shape, with three to four strings made from fishing wire that is attached to a piece of wood. It is mostly used for chord-playing and not for melodic patterns.
In year 2000 Afri-can Guitars under the master guidance of the late luthier and guitarist Graeme Wells developed the Township Oil Can professional guitar. An electric pick up was designed and added to create a notable rock and classical blues tone while still maintaining a unique and historical ‘Township” ‘timbre’.
After careful component selection and tuning the Township Oilcan guitar has taken its place on the world stages including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Hall, and The Royal Albert London plus others. The guitar offers a unique African Township sound.