Jamming Guides for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars: Chords for Keys of C, G and D

These three printable sheets give you the 3-string cigar box guitar chord forms for playing in the three most common keys: C, G and D. These chord forms are intended for Open G “GDG” 3-string tunings.

For each of the 3 keys, we give you the major, relative fourth and relative fifth chords, as well as the 3 relative minors and the seventh forms for the root and fifth. Using these chords you should be able to play the vast majority of popular songs from rock to blues, country to folk, religious songs and more. These sheets are perfect for jam sessions!

Click one of the three images below to view the printable PDFs. For help with how to understand and use these chord forms, check out this article.

Jamming Guide for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars - Key of C Jamming Guide for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars - Key of G Jamming Guide for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars - Key of D

Jason Farthing (The Budrows)

Musical styles: Blues, Hillbilly stomp, Rock, Americana, Originals

Handmade instruments played: cigar box guitars

He didn’t start build cigar box guitars until 2007 but he was bit by the artistic bug much earlier in life. Jason Farthing was drawing his favorite super heroes as a wee lad which is something that ultimately led to his love for the visual arts. That love turned into some of the finest custom painted cigar box guitars one can find.

Jason went through university focusing on drawing and graphic design. He would eventually host art shows featuring his varied works, including his cigar box guitars. Jason was drawn to the simplicity and rawness of the instrument and he brought his flair for the aesthetic to the CBG.

Understanding that viewers of his work didn’t realize that each cigar box guitar was also a fully playable instrument, Jason began performing with them. In 2008 he enlisted the vocal stylings of his step-daughter and The Budrows had been born.

Jason plays his custom four string cigar box guitars along with a foot drum and foot tambourine. Macarena plays the washboard and both share the lead with vocals. A couple of years later they added a harmonica player [who, at the time of this writing, has retired].

This southern California trio began playing deep south, juke joint stomping music steeped with a heavy dose of Americana and has been playing ever since. Living the life of an artist, visual or otherwise, is a challenge. In order to make a living Jason sells his own cigar box guitar kits online as well as an array of amazing custom painted cigar boxes.

The Budrows have released two albums and continue to play, from southern California to the northeastern U.S., in bars, juke joints, festivals, and anywhere else that enjoys having a foot-stomping good time.

The Budrows website: http://thebudrows.com/

Jingle Bells – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the classic Christmas song Jingle Bells.

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!

If you need some help with this style of tablature, here’s a video where Glenn Watt shows you how to read it

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Jingle Bells Cigar Box Guitar Tablature PDF

Jingle Bells Cigar Box Guitar Tablature PDF

 

John Nickel

“In elementary school, we had a picture of Bo Diddly in our cafeteria. He was holding a rectangular guitar and the poster said something to the affect of ‘Eat your vegetables’. […] I didn’t see anything like that again until 2000 or so when Microwave Dave played the local W.C. Handy fest with his cbg. […] I had no idea at the time it would totally change my life in the years to come.”

The years leading to this transformation of a performer, to artist, to father, to craftsman, to community member started with music roiling in his blood. John’s father was, and still is, a guitar teacher and performer, his mother was a radio DJ, his grandfather a musically educated choir director, and his grandmother is still singing to this day.

John began playing music at the age of two with a violin in his wee hands. He shifted to piano and then to guitar by the age of 8. Drums, too, caught John’s ear and he joined the school drum line by middle school sticking with it through college. He started playing in a punk band in high school earning his first paycheck as a performer. Throughout college, John earned his income playing in various bands, and would come to tour the southeastern U.S. for several years.

Then in 2005 John’s family grew by one little one and he retired from performing. However, working outside of music proved to be painful for John but his days without it wouldn’t last. In 2009 he cobbled together his first CBG. And like the lot of us, he immediately set out to improve upon the first. Dozens of hours spent researching on the internet led John to a simple neck-through design; a design upon which, with a few modifications, he still builds to this day.

“I honestly feel like CBGs gave me a second chance at music.”

In 2010 John started his own CBG company, NiCBG and in 2014 he rediscovered the happiness of performing, this time as a one man band. While John no longer tours like he used to, he still performs and records his unique blend of musical influences: from rock to rap to blues to pop. More importantly, being rooted to his family has also allowed him to create deeper connections with his local community. He has donated his work to fire fighters, animal shelters, and schools. He takes his business and art to some of the largest audiences, including Bonaroo, TedX, Steamfest, and NAMM.

“To me, music is important as [a] language and has the power to bring people together for a greater good.”

Keeping in line with his ties to community, John also supports artists who perform using handmade instruments and who are unable to afford studio time. He and a friend created Cigar Box Sound Studio where they record, mix, master, and publish to the web the sounds of local musicians.

You can find John at NickelCBG.com and on Facebook.

Johnny Lowebow (John Lowe)

Musical styles: One-man-band Blues Blast, Psycho-Hill Country, Punk, Originals

Handmade instruments played: Lowebow, cigar box guitar, stick guitar

As a young boy, John was introduced to boogie-woogie piano. Years later, and after a short stint with the trumpet, he was given a guitar. John was not one who took well to lessons on either piano or trumpet, and had a only a few on guitar. His growth as a musician really took off by jamming with friends. He grew to play in several bands in various clubs and immersed himself into the Fayetteville, AR punk scene, ultimately opening a music store with his wife in that city.

John and his wife later wound up in Memphis, TN where they opened another storefront with music as part of the business. Inspired by a customer who came to his shop, John learned to wind his own magnetic pickups and to build a stick guitar with a wood dowel.

With creative input from a local bluesman John’s stick guitar evolved into the Lowebow which has become an iconic instrument in the handmade musical instrument movement. These double dowel-necked cigar box guitars have been played by touring musicians like Ben Prestage, Lyle Lovett, and The North Mississippi Allstars. Richard Johnston, who helped to steer John towards this creation, won the 17th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis with a Lowebow in his hands.

With his unique use of hand and foot percussion blended with his playing on handmade stringed instruments, Beale Street in Memphis has been home to many of John’s busking sessions. He has entertained passersby with his one-man-band musical stylings that range from rough and tumble country to blues, rock, and punk. John is also regularly part of the lineup at some of the best Deep Blues and Cigar Box Guitar festivals, including the Huntsville and Chicago CBG fests.

The community of cigar box guitar builders initially grew around John as he harnessed his “surreal expression”. With his innovation and influence the community continues to grow. You can find two of his vinyl albums for sale here.

Johnny Lowebow "I'm a One-Man Band" Album

Jolly Old Staint Nicholas – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the classic Christmas song Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.

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!

If you need some help with this style of tablature, here’s a video where Glenn Watt shows you how to read it

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.

Justin Johnson

Musical Styles: Blues, Folk, Roots

Handmade Instruments Played: Cigar Box Guitar, Gas Can Guitar, Diddley Bow, many others

Over the last several years, Justin Johnson has become one of the most recognizable performing musicians of the cigar box guitar and homemade/handmade music movement. A highly accomplished musician, Justin plays a wide variety of handmade instruments created by builders and craftspeople all over the world, frequently switching between different instruments on stage all while weaving a masterful tapestry of sound and spoken word.

A regular headliner at cigar box guitar festivals around the country and also overseas, Justin has a deep commitment to preserving and rediscovering what is often referred to as “Roots” music. He has also focused his activities on holding instructional workshops and creating educational materials to help others learn to play music on these amazing instruments.

Currently Justin is busy continuing his 2015 “The Rolling Cigar Box Guitar & Roots Revue” tour, which according to his website, will “roll across several continents, including North America, Europe, and Australia, with the air of vintage carnival.  Each show will feature Johnson’s own constantly evolving menagerie of musical instruments built by artisans from around the globe, while regional guitar builders are encouraged to bring out their latest creations for the chance to have them played on-stage, so that each event showcases it’s own regional talent and brings together the people who build and sell handmade instruments with the people who want to take one home.. and everyone in between.  In addition to musical concerts, most performances will feature pre-show workshops that invite the audience to dive into the history, performance techniques, and culture that have evolved from Handmade American Roots Instruments. ” (Source: http://www.justinjohnsonlive.com/JUSTIN_JOHNSON_PRESS_KIT.php)

 

To learn more about Justin Johnson, his music, educational materials and tour, visit his website: http://www.justinjohnsonlive.com/