In his latest blog post, Ben “Gitty” Baker delves into why so many professional musicians seem to fall in love with cigar box guitars the first time they play them. Click on over to his blog at CBGitty.com to learn more about these “raunchy, growling jangly mojo funk machines”.
Author: Ben "Gitty" Baker
What Is A Diddley Bow?
Diddley bows are similar to cigar box guitars in that they are homemade stringed instruments that are often used in blues and roots music. However, diddley bows are typically more primitive in design and construction, and they are played in a different way. Whereas cigar box guitars typically have a neck, strings, and a bridge like a conventional guitar, diddley bows typically consist of a single string stretched between two points, such as nails or screws, and they are played by plucking or strumming the string with a pick or the fingers. Some diddley bows also have a resonator or sound chamber to amplify the sound, but this is not always the case.
If you’d like a jump-start to building your own diddley bow, check out C. B. Gitty’s inexpensive diddley bow kit!
Build a Hawaiian Ukulele using 100-year Old Plans!
If you’ve been looking for a new project, and want to bring a bit of legacy into your craft, why not try building yourself a ukulele using these 100-year-old plans? Originally published in Popular Mechanics in June, 1917, this is some historical how-to goodness that helps to remind us of the long history of homemade instrument building. So grab your antique tools and get busy!
The 2022 Cigar Box Nation Christmas Album is here!
Every year Cigar Box Nation members come together under the production leadership of CBN member Slowpaw Steve to record a holiday-themed album. This year’s album has just been released, and you can listen to the tracks (or download the full album right here!
Our thanks go out to Slowpaw Steve and all of the Cigar Box Nation members who submitted songs this year. A song from Christian Rock & Blues legend Glenn Kaiser is even included.
What Can a One-String Guitar Really Do? Just ask T. J. Wheeler.
A lot of folks out there seem to think that you need a conventional six-string guitar to make music. Veteran blues man T. J. Wheeler begs to differ. In this video recorded at C. B. Gitty headquarters a few years ago, T. J. blasts out the classic song “John Henry” on a one-string diddley bow using just a slide and a lifetime of blues mojo. It’s just a stick, a string and a box, but there’s a whole lot of music in there. C. B. Gitty has a diddley bow kit if you want to build your own.
The Little Old Canjo Lady
In my latest blog post over on CBGitty.com, I write about a recent surprise visitor to C. B. Gitty Headquarters, and how her simple story helped remind me of the importance of the work we do building cigar box guitars, canjos and kits so folks all around the world can build their own and make music on them.
In the day-to-day bustle of running a business, it’s easy to sometimes forget what the true mission is, and in this case it took a little old lady with a canjo to remind me. Read the full blog here.
Learn to play “Smoke On the Water” on your Cigar Box Guitar with just ONE FINGER! [Video Lesson in Link]
Pretty much every would-be rocker of a certain age knows the opening riff to Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke On the Water”.
DUHN DUHN DUN, DUHN DUHN, DAH DUHN…
Fortunately, playing this riff on an open G “GDG” cigar box guitar is so darn simple it only takes one finger! In this video lesson, I walk you through how to do it, with simple tablature notation provided as well.
And hey, once you have the opening riff down, the rest of the song is just a bunch of notes and rhythm and stuff, no problem easy-peasy. Does anyone even know how the rest of the song goes? I’m not sure I do.
So grab your CBG and give this riff a try today!
The Most Popular Tuners for Cigar Box Guitars
At CBGitty.com, we’ve been selling cigar box guitar parts and kits for going on fifteen years. And in that decade and a half, we’ve shipped a LOT of tuners, also known as tuning pegs and machine heads.
By far, the most popular style is the good old white-buttoned open-gear style, which also happens to be the first type of tuner we ever sold. Back in the early days, we called them “economy tuners” because of their nice low price.
We have shipped uncounted thousands of sets of them all around the world, both in packs and as part of our popular instrument kits. They have been used by thousands of builders on tens of thousands of instruments. We also use them in-house on our own cigar box guitars (see the proof here)!
There are a few reasons they are so popular. One is the price – as far as tuners go, they are some of the least expensive, especially compared to the fancier “sealed-gear” variety. They are also very simple to install and use – just a hole to be drilled, a bushing inserted and a couple of screws.
With their open-gear design, pearloid buttons and decorative scrollwork mounting plate, they have a nice retro look that naturally fits with the inherently retro style of most cigar box guitars. In addition to the original chrome finish, they are also available in gold and black, to fit the style of different builds.
So if you haven’t ever used these awesome little workhorse tuners, give them a try on your next build. You won’t be disappointed!
Build a Banjo Out of an Old Wagon Wheel
(Click the photo above to read the full build diary on CBGitty.com)
Building handmade heirloom instruments out of repurposed vintage items is an amazingly rewarding niche within the homemade music world.
I have made this style of building my special focus, and in this post I want to feature one of my most challenging and interesting builds: the time I took an old, partly rotted carriage wheel and turned it into an amazing tenor banjo.
This project took a lot of time and patience. The source wood I had to work with all came from the carriage wheel: specifically, the round spokes and the long curved rim. Turning these meager scraps into a playable instrument took some creative problem solving and a LOT of glue and clamps.
You can read the full builder’s diary of how I crafted this heirloom homemade instrument in the blog over at CBGitty.com. I hope that this creation inspires you to try your hand at creating your own heirloom instruments!
Riding Around America with a Cigar Box Guitar
Last summer I traveled all the way around America on Amtrak trains, and I hauled my little Hobo Fiddle cigar box guitar with me the whole way, writing and playing songs and helping to while away the hours while the beautiful scenery rolled past the windows. You can read more about my adventure in the full blog post over on CBGitty.com, and if you want to learn more about my train trip you can check get the 256-page book I wrote about it on Amazon.
Why You Should Add Box Corners to your Cigar Box Guitar
Installing box corner hardware on your cigar box guitar adds a unique and sophisticated touch to your instrument. Not only do they give your guitar an eye-catching look, but they also add stability to the construction by helping to stabilize corner joints. In short, they are both decorative and functional.
When installed using screws, box corners will help strengthen the joints of your guitar, ensuring that it will last for years to come. They can also be used to help hold the box lid securely closed, which can be a challenge for builders.
Available in a variety of styles and finishes, box corners will help your cigar box guitar have a more secure construction and the sound quality of your instrument may even be improved. C. B. Gitty has a wide selection of decorative metal box corner hardware, so if you are interested in trying some on your next build, that’s a great place to start!
The Charm of Cigar Box Guitars
There’s just something inherently charming about hand-made cigar box guitars. These primitive instruments are made from recycled cigar boxes, and they intrinsically have a unique, individual and eye-catching look. They’re also incredibly affordable, making them a great option for beginners.
There are many different types of cigar box guitars available, and they can be customized to suit your needs. You can buy pre-made cigar box guitars, or you can build your own from scratch. Either way, the process is relatively simple.
There are many how-to articles on this site to help you get started if you want to build your own. If you’re looking for a unique gift, or you want to learn more about cigar box guitars, consider buying a custom made guitar. These instruments are often created with the artist in mind, and they’re a great way to show your appreciation for their work. C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply has many beautiful, unique instruments to choose from in stock, and you can even upload a photo or other image to truly customize one for yourself or as a gift.