C. B. Gitty’s Cigar Box Guitar Fretting How-to Video

In the effort of helping demystify the subject, Ben “Gitty” Baker presents a compilation of his 4-part Fretting series that serves as a step-by-step guide to fretting Cigar Box Guitars and more!

You can find the FREE Fret calculator mentioned in this video by clicking here.


Need tools and fret wireC. B. Gitty has everything you’ll need to get started!


Did you find this video helpful?  Have any suggestions on what we should cover next? Let us know in the comments!

 

Camptown Races – 3-string Open G “GDG” – Tablature for Cigar Box Guitars

Stephen Foster did not believe in smiling for the camera.
Stephen Foster clearly did not believe in smiling for the camera.

For anyone who grew up watching old Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny Cartoons featuring Foghorn Leghorn, this song will be instantly recognizable.

Camptown Races is another classic American folk song written by Stephen Foster, who was the first American composer whose works were widely popular. He wrote this song and others like Oh Susannah in the middle of the 19th century for performance by the many minstrel groups that were popular at the time.

Thee tablature arrangements of this public domain song were created by cigar box guitar afficionado Glenn Watt. He has created two versions of the song – a simpler melody-line-only version, and then a little more advanced version that includes some chord strumming.

You can view the printable tablature sheet by clicking on the links or images below. You can also watch the video below where Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker shows you how he plays the song on his 3-string cookie tin banjo tuned to high open G “GDG”.

Camptown-Races-chords Camptown Races by Stephen Foster – Melody Line Only – Tablature for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet for this song.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet for this song.

 Camptown Races by Stephen Foster – Chords & Melody – Tablature Sheet

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

Camptown Races – Traditional

View the full text of this entry by clicking the “Read More” link below for the formatted canjo tab…

American Canjo Company

Arrangement courtesy of C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, intended for playing on American Canjo Company™ brand one-string canjos with dulcimer-style fretting, with fret numberings as shown below. The open unfretted string is notated as “0″.

Canjo Diagram

Camptown Races (Version 1 – Low)

4   4    2 4   5    4    2     2   1    2   1
Camptown races sing this song, doo dah, doo dah
4   4    2     4  5    4     2     1  1   2   1   0
Camptown track is five miles long, oh the doo dah day.
Chorus
0     0  2   4   8      5     5  8   5   4
Goin’ to run all night, goin’ to run all day
4 4   4  2  2  4  4 5   4    2    1  1   2   1   0
I bet my money on a bob-tail nag, oh the doo dah day.

Camptown Races (Version 2 – High)

8   8    5 8   9    8    5     5   4    5   4
Camptown races sing this song, doo dah, doo dah
8   8    5     8  9    8     5     4  4   5   4   3
Camptown track is five miles long, oh the doo dah day.
Chorus
3     3  5   8   11     9     9  11  9   8
Goin’ to run all night, goin’ to run all day
8 8   8  5  5  8  8  9  8    5    4  4   5   4   3
I bet my money on a bob-tail nag, oh the doo dah day.
Arrangement by C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply
Copyright 2014

Canray Fontenot: From Cigar Box Fiddle to Creole Legend

WritteCanray Fontenot

Written by Shane Speal, www.shanespeal.com

“So, we took some cigar boxes…In those days, cigar boxes were made of wood. So, we worked at it and finally made ourselves a fiddle. For our strings, we had no real strings … we took strands off the screen door. We made fiddles out of that stuff, and then we started practicing.  [I visited my neighbor] to see how he tuned his fiddle. He would sound a string, and then I would try mine, but I couldn’t go as high as his fiddle; every time I tried to match his pitch, I’d break a string…. But then when he would break a string, I would take the longest end. Then my fiddle sounded pretty good. And that’s how I learned. It’s just a matter of having music on your mind.”

– Canray Fontenot
Quoted from his National Endowment for the Arts Honor

I first came across the name Canray Fontenot from the dedication page of book, Fiddle Fever by Sharon Arms Doucet.  In the book, a young Cajun boy named Felix comes of age when he falls in love with music and Continue reading “Canray Fontenot: From Cigar Box Fiddle to Creole Legend”

Carolina in my Mind by James Taylor – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe 3-string cigar box guitar tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the song Carolina in my Mind, written and performed by James Taylor. This is one of James’ greatest hits, instantly recognizable from just the first few notes. Like a lot of James Taylor’s songs, the melody line is fairly straightforward but the chord progression can be a little complex.

The printable tablature sheet linked below contains both the simple melody-only version as well as a more advanced version that includes some chords.

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

We also have a video by Glenn Watt that shows you how to read and play this style of 3-string CBG tablature: click here to view it!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Carolina In My Mind by James Taylor – 3-string Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

We hope that you will find the tablature useful, and that you’ll use it to make great music with your cigar box guitars!

CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar

A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment. While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

60-005-119 Image 3A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the methods you can use to decorate your builds, and wherever possible to use hardware that is both decorative AND useful – using a decorative Continue reading “CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar”

Chickenbone John (John Wormald)

Musical stlyes: Blues, Folk, Jazz, Originals

Handmade instrument played: cigar box guitar

Englishman John Wormald began playing guitar in his teenage years. While in school he built his first solid body electric guitar. From there, although it would take some time to grow, John’s luthiery and performances would take on a storied life.

John played in bands in college, played with musicians who went on to find a bit of fame, and built guitars for other artists. And like many of us, life found John and directed his attention away from playing music and to work, marriage, and children.

After many moons, John sought out clubs and open-mics to get back out performing, rekindling his interest in slide guitar. Along with his interest in playing slide he wanted to get his hands on his own resonator guitar. This desire was sated after he found an old acoustic set out as trash.

John thought the guitar, which had chicken bones stuffed through the soundhole, an excellent candidate for refurbishing and converting into a resonator. John had also found his blues-name.

The following years were spent submerging himself  in the music scene, finding himself at home in blues and jazz clubs. In addition, he took to buying, fixing, and re-selling guitars from and on the internet. John became enamoured with fixer-upper and workaday guitars, the kind that kept in spirit with what old blues men used to play.

His luthiery, musical background, and passion for the authenticity of blues led John to embracing cigar box guitars. John began building and playing CBGs, and selling them as well. After stumbling across CigarBoxNation.com he found there is a worldwide community of people with their own approaches to building and playing CBGs. It was there that someone suggested a UK cigar box guitar event and John took the steps to make that happen.

Since then John has been playing live with his cigar box guitars, selling them online and direct at music festivals, and hosting workshops on how to build CBGs throughout Europe. Over the years, through direct contact and the internet, John has taught many people how to build and play cigar box guitars, continuing to be an ambassador for the movement.

Chickenbone John’s site: http://www.chickenbonejohn.com/

Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos (with Cigar Box Banjo Plans) – by Daniel C. Beard – Circa 1884

Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos
Click the Image Above to view the full PDF

This story first appeared in The Book Buyer: A Summary of American and Foreign Literature in 1884-1885. It was written by Daniel Carter Beard, who also founded the Boy Scouts of America. It tells the story of a Christmas Eve where the boys Tom, Dick and Harry discover that their beloved Uncle Enos has built himself a banjo out of a cigar box and broomstick.

This is not just a story though, but a set of plans for how to build a 5-string fretless banjo using a cigar box. These plans, minus the folksy story, would later be incorporated into Beard’s American Boy’s Handy Book.

Due to the time period in which it was written, some of the language and terms used in it may be offensive to some people. We present the digital version of the original publication here in its full, unedited form, as a historical curiosity and for educational purposes, as one of the earliest printed references to making instruments out of cigar boxes. We hope you enjoy it.

Cigar Box Cello and Violin built by Children – from “Creative Music for Children” 1922

This excerpt from the book “Creative Music for Children”, written by Satis Narrona Coleman and published in 1922, describes the author’s work with teaching music and musical instruments to children. In this section she describes how the children crafted their own instruments, including a cello and violin, from various materials including cigar boxes.

This excerpt from the book “Creative Music for Children”, published in 1922, describes the author’s work with teaching music and musical instruments to children. In this section she describes how the children crafted their own instruments, including a cello and violin, from various materials including cigar boxes.

Click the image above to view the full document.
Click the image above to view the full document.

Cigar Box Guitar Building Tip: Neck Reinforcement with Humbuckers

In the video below, Shane Speal shows his technique of reinforcing internal bracing on neck-through cigar box guitars with extra wood. He also shows how to use a Forstner bit to route out the cavity for a mini humbucker pickup. (Note: the pickup used is a C. B. Gitty Toaster Bucker mini humbucker.) Continue reading “Cigar Box Guitar Building Tip: Neck Reinforcement with Humbuckers”

Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms for 3-string Open G “GDG”

Here are the chord form sheets for all of the common keys that you might want to play on your cigar box guitar. These are all for 3-string cigar box guitars tuned to Open G “GDG”.

This single post replaces the separate posts we used to have for all of these, to make it easier to find what you need. All of these sheets were created by C. B. Gitty and are presented for free personal and educational use. They are not to be used for commercial purposes without permission.

For help on how to make use of these chord forms, click this link to view the guide:

How to Read and Use Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms PDF.

Click the images below to view the printable PDFs. The sheets are presented in musical order starting with A and proceeding through G.

A Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF B-flat Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms PDF B Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF
C Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF D Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF Eb Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitars PDF
E Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar F Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF G Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF

Cigar Box Guitar in 1942 Spike Jones Music Video

Spike Jones Pass the Biscuits Mirandy 1942Shane Speal recently discovered a rare appearance by a cigar box guitar in a vintage film clip, this one from a 1942 music video recorded for the Spike Jones song “Pass the Biscuits Mirandy”. According to the Youtube video post, this short film (which really is a precursor to modern music videos) was called a “Soundie” and was made for playing on special jukeboxes.

This old hillbilly song was popular at the time, and a number of homemade and impromptu instruments are shown in it. The Cigar Box Guitar gets a brief appearance right around the 1-minute mark, as the screen shot to the left shows. You can watch the full video below.

Spike Jones was popular in the 1940’s and early 1950’s for his satirical and often comical adaptations of popular songs. You can read more about him and his career on Wikipedia.

Cigar Box Ukulele Kit Assembly Guide

36-009-01 Guide Pages
Click the image above to view the how-to guide PDF.

This is the full how-to guide from C. B. Gitty’s Cigar Box Ukulele kit. While written with a focus on assembling the kit C. B. Gitty sells (which includes all of the parts and hardware you need in one easy package), this how-to guide is a good general introduction to building a cigar box ukulele, and could be useful if you want to try it on your own from scratch.

Click Here or on the image to the left to view the full guide document.

 

 

Cigar Box Violin (Jazzolin) – Popular Science Monthly, July 1920

Here is a short article from the July, 1920 edition of Popular Science Monthly, in which author Frank W. Vroom gives fairly brief instructions for constructing what he calls a “Jazzolin” using a cigar box. This is basically another take on the classic one-string cigar box fiddle.

Click the image above to view the full article in its original context.
Click the image above to view the full article in its original context.