Don’t let the sun go down on me . .

John Hunt shows off his solar-powered guitar, made from a B&Q shelf
John Hunt shows off his solar-powered guitar, made from a B&Q shelf
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you’d think a solar- powered guitar in Edinburgh in August would be pretty unlikely to provide a dazzling performance.

But the homemade instrument is proving a hit for musician John Hunt, who sits outside the Jazz Bar with it for two hours before each gig to charge it up.

Mr Hunt says he has been blessed with sunshine for the first two of his six gigs at the Chambers Street venue.

He is confident, however, that even with rain clouds the show will go on.

He said: “When it’s fully charged up you can play it for about 15 hours – until your fingers bleed! I don’t usually play for that long.

“To fully charge it up would take about three days. It’s not based on heat, just light, so even if it’s cloudy you can still charge it.

“I thought because it’s nice I can just sit outside the Jazz Bar for a couple of hours and charge it up before the gig. So far it’s been perfect, but there is a built-in fail-safe system – which is a basically a 13 amp plug – so I can plug it in if I really need it.”

Mr Hunt, who has been building his own guitars for more than two decades, cobbled together the solar-powered guitar out of spare parts and says it is, as far as he knows, the only one in existence.

“It’s made out of a B&Q shelf and bits of light fittings, a Tupperware box and six other dead guitars, like a Frankenstein guitar,” he said. “It’s got a built-in amplifier and a built-in speaker. After I’d built it I thought, ‘I can just wire it up to a solar panel’, which is the scratch plate, and I found out that, by accident, I’d made the world’s first solar- powered guitar.

“I’m happy to be proved wrong, but I’ve never found another one.”

Among the Old Town-based musician’s fans is writer Ian Rankin.

Mr Hunt said: “When Ian Rankin saw it, he said, ‘It’s a storming set, John – it’s like Seasick Steve in a science lab’.”

Mr Hunt started making his own guitars in 1986 out of necessity. He said: “The first one I made was because I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I made it out of papier mache, out of the pages of Melody Maker that the guitars were advertised in.

“This one I just made because I needed a guitar with a built-in amplifier and I couldn’t find one.”

Mr Hunt, who also works as an artist, recently turned heads on the Royal Mile when he created a huge picture of King Kong hanging from the Balmoral Hotel and delivered it by hand to his friend, Fred Pellet, who owns the St Giles’ Cafe, as a gift.

He will appear at the Jazz Bar at 4pm tomorrow and Sunday, and at the same times next week. Tickets are available from the Fringe box office.

sgyford@edinburghnews.com