Lethbridge men finish one-of-a-kind electric cello during COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video 'Lethbridge men finish steampunk-inspired electric cello after 6 years of work' Lethbridge men finish steampunk-inspired electric cello after 6 years of work
WATCH ABOVE: With extra time on his hands due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Don Ferguson was able to finish a one-of-a-kind project out of his shop in Diamond City, Alta., for his cello-loving friend. Eloise Therien has the details. – Jul 6, 2020

Six years ago, two Lethbridge men tasked themselves with creating a musical instrument straight out of their imagination.

Peter Gilligan, who has worked out of his shop in Diamond City, Alta., for nearly 40 years, said the project was like nothing he had ever tackled before.

“Why would anyone want an electric cello?” he said. “That’s what I thought.”

While the cello has been in the making for years, it was the current COVID-19 pandemic that gave Gilligan the push to complete the project.

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“When the lockdown occurred I had lots of time out here,” he explained. “So I finished it.”

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Gilligan plays the guitar and his musical companion Kris Hodgson-Bright is a cellist who wanted to spice up his instrument.

“The process was really interesting because we got so far along and we came into really challenging parts,” Hodgson-Bright said.

“If you don’t get it right the whole thing could snap in half.”

The cello is made out of honduras mahogany and other unique materials, including parts from a sewing machine and tubes from an old lamp.

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Gilligan said he enjoys making unique creations and has also constructed lamps and fountains out of unused car parts.

His newest creation is inspired by steampunk art, taking elements from the Victorian era and retro-futuristic technology.

“Probably the most exciting part was when [Kris] first played it, and there was nothing wrong with it,” Gilligan said. “It just played.”

The men are proud of the amount of effort that went into making the instrument and hope the “COVID Cello” can be played for years to come.

“If it’s myself or another musician that wants to pick it up, that would be amazing,” Hodgson-Bright said.