After the death of his artist wife in 1965,Charles Simon was “reduced to nothing” which produced a “psyche fragmentation” he called Charlie Nothing the Artist. As Charlie Nothing, he pursued music and the visual arts. He created guitar sculptures made out of American cars he called dingulators and formed a number of “dingulation” bands in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Dingulators are guitar sculptures made out of recycled automotive steel. They are a class of musical instrument invented by Charlie Nothing and each construction is unique with its own sound.
Dingulators are steel-string acoustic guitars having typically seven or eight and sometimes up to 21 strings. They have friction pegs and raised frets like those on a sitar. Tuning a dingulator is “variable, organic and evolving.” According to Nothing, “the ideal would be to never tune them, to just find where they are going and go with it … but sometimes I do make adjustments.” Nothing, a skilled artisan and welder, used old cars as his material because “cars have the right kind of steel … [they’ve] got very soulful steel.” Nothing was also making a political statement with his artistic recycling. “It’s a sword-to-plowshare kind of thing,” he said. “Cars to guitars.”