Sunday Musings: DIY Busch Beer Can ‘Country’ Guitar

Busch has logged another first: teaching fans how to make a Busch beer can ‘country’ guitar out of a Busch 30-can suitcase pack and some odds and ends of guitar parts. FYI: I have some special knowledge and interest about this barely food-related publicity stunt.

Beer Can Guitar - © 2022 Anheuser BuschDo the potential negatives outweigh the positives? And what’s the point?

Sister Erin is studying to become a luthier – a craftsperson who builds, restores and repairs stringed musical instruments. Even better, she specializes in guitars… And I asked her opinion of the Busch design.

“Whatever. It’s ridiculous,” she said after examining the downloadable plans and remarking on the possibly unique 3-string design.

An ancient and venerable

Wikipedia disabuses us of the notion that the modern guitar appeared spontaneously relatively recently as a complete and perfect concept:

“The modern word guitar, and its antecedents, has been applied to a wide variety of chordophones since classical times and as such causes confusion. The English word guitar, the German Gitarre, and the French guitare were all adopted from the Spanish guitarra, which comes from the Andalusian Arabic قيثارة (qīthārah) and the Latin cithara, which in turn came from the Ancient Greek κιθάρα. This Greek word may also come from the Persian word Sihtar. Kithara appears in the Bible four times (1 Cor. 14:7, Rev. 5:8, 14:2 and 15:2), and is usually translated into English as harp. ”

In fact, the earliest ancestor of the guitar may have been the ancient Turkish Hittite lute from Alacahöyük (1399–1301 BC). Banjos, Ukuleles, Dobros and other strummable, pickable forms can all be considered related to the guitar through that common ancestor.

Not the first rodeo

Guitars and their kin have often been built and played by ordinary folks who just wanted to make music. The history books remind us of the famous cigar box banjo, which arose as a curiosity in the mid 1800s, then stayed around as an American icon to this day. Cigars used to come in sturdy, finger-jointed cedar wood boxes which early guitar hobbyists quickly discovered had a particularly suitable internal resonance to adapt as musical instruments.

Three-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 12 string guitars have been noted and documented down through the years – not to mention the Indian sitar, with its multiplicity of strings. The modern music profession has standardized on 6- and 12-string versions, though other variations have appeared as custom, one-off designs now and then. Even the Busch 3-string has direct predecessors – which are actually anything but extinct.

The creative spirit lives on

Not long ago, while browing the racks at Canada’s largest and most comprehensive musical instrument source, Fleet Sound and Lighting in Ottawa, Ontario, I came across what was described as an oil-can mini bass. It was simply a rectanglar 1 U.S. gallon tin oil can with a simple neck and bridge attached. But it also had a pair of bass guitar pickups and the usual tone and volume controls.

John, Fleet’s resident Bassman and low-end resonance specialist, plugged it into a mid-range bass combo amp and demonstrated. It sounded amazing. It just might be the ideal bass solution for any Bluegrass or Folk band.

Enter, the Busch beastie…

Intrepid DIYers and guitar enthusiasts can download the complete design and instruction ‘manual’ from the Busch website.

Meanwhile, Busch is probably counting on thousands of fans graduating from from 6-packs to 30-can luggers for Labour Day weekend parties. Some folks will latch onto any excuse to let their hair down even further, when they get in a party mood…

My take

First, I would think that the average player would not have the skills to attempt to build the Busch Can Guitar. And some would stall at the requirement to source the specialized tuning posts and strings specified.

Second, I’ll bet you a buck there’s no published music around for a 3-string. And creative guitar geniuses, such those iconic figures celebrated every month in Guitar Player magazine, are few and far between. How useful would a 3-string of any provenance be?

Third, the Busch guitar design calls for ‘at least 4’ beer cans. If at first you don’t succeed (trimming, sanding and shaping the cans as instructed), drink, drink again? There’s the apex of a slippery slope if ever I saw one…


I have to wonder if the potential negatives may outweigh the positives of the Busch DIY 3-string, can-based guitar? Does the promo stunt go too far in its attempt to engage fan curiosity and attachment to the brand? Cutting to the chase: Who came up with this at best off-beat, at worst, ill-advised idea in the first place?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.