Musical Sculpture: Ian Schneller’s Aluminum Axe and Six String Creations
by James Sandrolini

Ian Schneller makes his modest living creating musical sculptures, or sculptural musical instruments, out of his Wicker Park workshop. Schneller, formerly of Shrimp Boat and currently guitarist for Falstaff, got his creative teeth cut studying sculpture at the Memphis Academy of Art in Tennessee, and he has also worked as a film technician at the Art Institute and at Neotech doing metal sculpture. Creating music and unique instruments is his raison d’etre these days. Perhaps his key creation so far, even cooler than his ingenious four-foot wooden rocket sculpture which takes flight after a feeding on a vinegar and baking soda fuel, is his aluminum guitar. Why aluminum?

“Sustain,” Schneller replies. “It allows a richer, more substantial sound quality.”

Schneller’s industrial, six-string sculptures have been used by the like’s of Ministry’s Al Jorgenson, who borrowed it for a week and returned it untarnished to Schneller’s shop, forever galvanizing the silver axe in the annals of industrial-thrash mayhem. Buddy Guy and members of Tar and Red Red Meat have also used Schneller’s instruments. In addition to Schneller’s aluminum electric guitars, basses and chamber music instruments, he also creates his own amps.

Aluminum Maxwell Guitar Although he hasn’t reaped much money from his inventions yet, he is enthralled with his craft. It is, he says, an “ongoing process.” “I just plan on continuing my sonic experiments, playing with my new band, and fulfilling people’s aberrant requests,” says Schneller. “I get a lotta geeks and weirdos calling for ideas, guys who probably spend too much time on their own.”