This site is presented by C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply and Cigar Box Nation. This is the central landing page and clearinghouse for all things CBG – from the most recent news and events, to an ever-growing knowledgebase of how-to information, to builder profiles, featured instruments and more!
Here are some handy links to help you find what you need on this site:
- The Cigar Box Guitar Manifesto – the mission statement and rallying cry of the Cigar Box Guitar movement, as written by C. B. Gitty.
- How to Build Cigar Box Guitars – An ever-growing collection of articles specifically on how to build cigar box guitars.
- How to Play Cigar Box Guitars – Articles and Videos related to making music with cigar box guitars.
- CigarBoxNation.com – Home of the Cigar Box Guitar movement on the internet, with over 12,500 members from around the world. The perfect place to talk to other builders, get advice and tips, ask specific how-to questions, view and upload pictures and videos, and generally have fun.
- Cigar Box Guitar Kits – If you are looking for an easy way to build your first cigar box guitar, consider one of C. B. Gitty’s kits! Gitty’s new “Pure and Simple” Cigar Box Guitar kit is the easiest-to-build kit available anywhere, and the perfect way to get started on this amazing hobby!
- Cigar Box Guitar Parts, Gear and Accessories – C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply is the largest supplier of kits, parts, gear and accessories to the cigar box guitar and homemade music movement. Check out their web store and get ready to start building!
Just in time for Christmas, we’ve just posted a PDF of the 4-page Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos story, written by Daniel Carter Beard (co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America), and first published in the 1884-1885 edition of The Book Buyer.
This is more than just a story though, as it contains full how-to plans meant to get boys building their own 5-string banjos out of cigar boxes. As such it was both one of the earliest published mentions of cigar box instruments, as well as one of the first sets of published plans for how to build them!
Disclaimer: We present the digital version of the original document here in its full, unedited form. Some the terminology used in it in regards to race may be considered by some today to be offensive. We present it here only as a historical curiosity and educational artifact.
In this documentary, which is currently running on the local TV station in York, PA, Shane Speal and Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker explore the secrets of the York Steam Whistle Christmas Concert – the last of its kind in the world. This steam whistle concert has been going on since the early days of the 1900’s, and the current whistlemaster has been at his post performing the concert every Christmas Eve for the past 60 years.
While Shane explores the story of the steam whsitle concert, Gitty builds a 116db pneumatic slide whistle from and old bicycle pump which Shane later plays onstage at a live concert. Along the way, Shane and Gitty discover and play an amazing forgotten instrument known as a “horse fiddle”, and they manage to get all giddy schoolboy-excited over crazy homemade instruments. Shane even performs an original song “Chasing Steam” on his cigar box guitar.
The Chasing Steam documentary starts around the 14 minute mark; the portion of the show before that features a poetry reading of a forgotten female poet from York, PA, with Shane playing in the background.
One-Hand Dan Russell is a rising force in the cigar box guitar performance world. Glenn Watt and I ran into him up at the Chicago Cigar Box Guitar Festival several weeks ago, where he performed on the main stage and also ran the C. B. Gitty open mic stage.
Now he has been featured on Tuscaloosa Monorail, a music talk show based in central Alabama that brings in original acts that get performances from “not the norm” bands. When they heard about a one-handed ex pro wrestler playing cigar box guitars on the streets, they contacted Dan.
Dan brought along Bart Lynn for a little trombone backup, and you can see the result in the video clip below! To check out Dan’s various other shenanigans, hijinks and all-around tomfoolery, here’s a link to his Facebook page.
Have you seen this? It’s a video lesson where the King himself, Mr. Shane Speal, walks you through how to tune your cigar box guitars and play them like Seasick Steve!
While it may be a bit early to start publicly performing Christmas songs, you should start practicing now so that when the season is truly upon us, you’ll be ready!
Click here or on the image to the left to see the songs we’ve added so far. There will be more coming in the days ahead, so check back often!
Check out this article from the Belfast Telegraph in the UK, in which Paul McCartney shares some of the backstory behind how he ended up recording a grammy-winning rock song in the middle of a Nivana reunion, while playing a cigar box guitar!
That guitar given to him by Johnny Depp was a “Cig Fiddle” built by our friend Matty Baratto of North Hollywood, California. Sir Paul appearing on stage with it during televised events (the 12.12.12 Hurricane benefit concert, and later that same week on Saturday Night Live) was the biggest burst of publicity cigar box guitars had ever gotten, and the movement has definitely grown because of it.
Thanks Sir Paul! Give us a call when you see this and we’ll have tea!
Many more chord form sheets have been added to the knowledgebase here on CigarBoxGuitar.com, completing the initial series for 3-string Open G GDG cigar box guitars. We now have sheets showing all of the most common and useful chord forms (with power chords, major chords, sevenths and minors) for G, A, B-flat, B, C, D, E-flat, E and F!
We have also created a guide to reading and interpreting the chord form sheets, to help you become more familiar with the concepts if you are a new player.
This is the most comprehensive free resource that has ever been compiled for 3-string cigar box guitars, and it is only going to keep getting bigger and better!
We have added a new category to the knowledgebase here on CigarBoxGuitar.com – 3-string CBG chord forms! So far we have added G, C and D chord forms. The rest of the common chord forms (A, Eb, E, B, Bb, F) will be coming in the next few days!
Here’s what C. B. Gitty says about these chord forms:
“We do not claim that this list is exhaustive or definitive, or that there aren’t other chord forms out there that some might find preferable. Some of the chords here may not even be technically what we have them labeled as… but the key thing is that they work, and they are the ones we use when playing. If one chord form doesn’t sound quite right in the song you are playing, then try a different one! We present them freely in the hope that you can make good use of them too.”
If you have ever been a bit uncertain of how to wire a jack onto the pickup in your cigar box guitar, check out this article just added to our knowledgebase.
In this article, C. B. Gitty walks you through the differences between mono and stereo jacks, how to identify the positive and negative lugs, and how to wire a stereo jack for mono use (if you accidentally buy stereo jacks). Confusion over these points comes up frequently among cigar box guitar builders, and now this article makes it all clear!