AN ex-soldier who had to retire due to a painful heart condition has channelled his efforts into building a guitar entirely out of matchsticks.
Dean Fraser, from Buckshaw Village, has spent two and a half years working on the electric guitar, which includes about 40,000 matchsticks glued together and glossed.
And it has already gathered great interest on display at the North West Guitar Show in May.
The 37-year-old, who is known for his unique guitar designs, began properly working on the piece - which is a fully-functioning instrument - when he retired from the army because of a rare heart condition in 2013.
And Dean said putting the guitar together has helped him cope with having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition which causes sudden and intense pains in the heart.
He said: “It has been so therapeutic to work on.
“And I soon realised this was great for me because I could do it sitting down or in bed - it was not a strenuous act for me.
“I could start doing matchsticks in a morning and the next thing I know, it would be bedtime already.
“I enjoyed it that much.”
Dean originally began work on the guitar in the Army in 1998, but had to put it to one side to concentrate on his career.
And it wasn’t until he retired from service that his wife, Marie, encouraged him to start working on it again.
“She’s my rock,” Dean said. “She made this happen.
“I might have started it years before, but she is the reason I am about to finish it.
“And I have enjoyed doing something different because I already know I have the ability to build a traditional guitar.
“This is a piece of artwork.
“There is only so much you can do to make matchsticks beautiful, so I have done them in an art decor pattern.
“But I never write anything down.
“I just have a mental image in my head of what it is going to look like.
“It’s been hard but it has been great to work on and I’m happy it has worked out so well.”
After a total of two and a half years in the making, the guitar is just weeks away from being finished.
And Marie has already contacted the Guinness World Book of Records to see if the electric guitar body built entirely from matchsticks meets their criteria.
And on top of their marriage and Dean’s illness, the couple also juggle a guitar design business and eight children - two together and six from previous relationships.
“It is hard work, but I was a soldier, so I have learned to get my priorities in order,” Dean added.
“We might have eight children but we still work and manage.
“Everybody is there to help each other out and that it is why we all work together so well.”
Dean, who has previously designed a guitar and bass for world-famous rapper B.o.B, says he is sad his matchstick guitar is almost finished because it is the end of an era, but he is also happy because it is the beginning of a new one.
He is now looking forward to his next project – creating an army-themed guitar to raise money for a military charity to help sick soldiers.
“I’m not sure my wife is looking forward to having glue all over the table again,” he said.
“But I have got a few more ideas and tricks up my sleeve for the future.
“If somebody believes in themselves, they can create anything.”
For more information about their unique guitar design business, visit www.frasersguitars.com.