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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on March 7th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 12, Issue 52

Making moosic

Leigh Rubins teamed up with Ernie Ball guitars to create his latest work of cartoon art


Some people can look at a guitar and see a finely crafted instrument.

Leigh Rubins looked at a guitar and saw a cow.

How now, cow?
Leigh Rubins was watching a video of an electric guitar being made when he realized how similar the guitar looked to a cow.

Rock cow:
The Moosic-Man guitar isn’t just a gimmick; it actually plays well, too.

Of course, the creator of the long-running Rubes comic strip may have a propensity to see cows in things, being as much of his subject matter involves anthropomorphic bovines. Nevertheless, when Rubins watched a YouTube video of an electric guitar being created, it sparked the idea for a unique marketing piece.

Rubins had been attending the World Dairy Expo, an industry event that attracts nearly 70,000 people, and he was searching for a way to draw attention to his booth.

“Then, in early January of last year, my son pointed out this video of how an electric guitar is made and it dawned on me how much the guitar looked like a cow,” he said. “I grabbed the first thing I could. An envelope ... and sketched it out before I forgot it.”

 When he told friends and family about his idea, he got a lot of support.

“They would say, ‘Now that you mention it, it does look like a cow,’” Rubins said.

That was the beginning of the Moosic-Man guitar—an Ernie Ball instrument that features a close-up of a cartoon cow face on the front and its hindquarters on the back. Bringing the idea into reality took some time, however, and was a bit of a process.

Rubins took his idea to one company and proceeded to get it started, but that eventually fell through. Then he called his friend Ed Miller, in the local band Unfinished Business, and Miller connected him with someone at Ernie Ball. Rubins had lunch with the Ernie Ball designer, explained the concept, and the two hammered out the details.

Rubins was given two blank body guitars and was connected to an automotive shop in San Diego for a paint kit. When everything was in place, Rubins laid out the guitars and paint on a table and went to work. He said the experience was a little scary because he’d never done anything like it.

“It really fit nicely on the body—better than I expected,” he said. “Originally, it was only going to be the front; then I turned it over and it was like, ‘Hey it works on the back, too.’”

Custom job
Want to be like Leigh Rubins? He said he’ll similarly customize a guitar if someone wants to order one. Visit

The Moosic-Man guitar was made from—surprise!—an Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, and there are now two in existence: the one Rubins uses for marketing and the other, which remains in the possession of Ernie Ball.

“The guitar is the Music Man, and this is the Moosic-Man,” Rubins said. “It was fortuitous it just sorted happened that way.”

He added that the guitar is more than just a marketing prop, which is a plus when someone wants to pick it up and actually play it.

“It’s a really nice guitar,” he said. “It’s not just a goofy thing. It actually plays well.”

Rubins said that since he’s taken the guitar on the road, it’s received a lot of attention. He recently did a stand-up show in Nashville, and his son performed a 22-minute opening on the guitar, which was a hit. Then, of course, there was the Dairy Expo.

“That guitar got so much attention. I guarantee that’s the only guitar at an international dairy show,” Rubins said. “People were leaving their booths to come play the guitar. There were some great players, so it was really nice.”

Still, an Ernie Ball-designed guitar tricked out with artwork and signed by Rubins isn’t a bad collector’s piece, and Rubins said he’s willing to create one for anyone one so inclined to order. For now, however, the cow guitar is unique.

“It’s definitely something different,” he said. “There’s nothing else like it.”


Arts Editor Shelly Cone thinks the cow guitar should be out standing in its field. Contact her at

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