How to Transform a Gold Foil Pickup into a Vintage Top Mounted Pickup

The C. B. Gitty Gold Foil acoustic pickup is one of the most versatile and easiest magnetic pickups to mod for cigar box guitars. At only $14 each, they’re deliciously cheap and I always have a half dozen of them in my woodshop at any time. (It should be noted that these suckers have such a gloriously trashy 1960’s vibe to them, just like Hound Dog Taylor’s guitars.)

I recently used a Gold Foil in a cigar box guitar and I radically modded it to look like a rusty old Harmony/Teisco top-mount pickup. Here’s how I did it. Continue reading “How to Transform a Gold Foil Pickup into a Vintage Top Mounted Pickup”

Henry Wood’s Cigar Box Violin – 1940’s Historical Account

From A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows – by Henry Wood as told to Michael Fedo:

Near the end of the book, Henry Wood talks about performing in the famous WLS Barn Dance in Wisconsin back in the 1940’s. As master at the musical saw, Wood went on to describe the act he created for the Barn Dance:

“Sometimes Mr. Statz would tell the audience that I’d taken over everything in the barn — cowbells, pitchforks, tin cans, milk pails, saws and chains to make music with, and there were no tools left for work. He said he fixed me. He’d lock them all up.

Well, I’d go into the audience and see if anybody had a cigar box. We’d have a plant there ho did, and I’d borrow the box and cut a hole in the top. I’d get a broom handle and attach it, then string a wire across the whole. I’d snatch a violin bow from one of the fellows int he band, and I’d play that one-string fiddle while Mr. Statz would try to make his announcements.

It always brought down the house, or more accurately, the tent or barn. When he’d grab my fiddle and break it, the band would start in and I’d still have the stage, doing a comic jig or buck-and-wing dance. ”

Shane Speal – Seduced Into Crafting: My Life as a Sound Searcher

Shane Speal was recently invited by the business community of York PA to deliver a PechaKucha* speech on the art of crafting.  He used the opportunity to express how the cigar box guitar changed his life.


Source:  York:Crafted, a series of events featuring brief lectures on what it means to be a craftsman in York, PA.

*PechaKucha speech format allots for 20 slides/20 seconds per slide.

York:Crafted official Facebook


CAROUSEL uke kit

2015 Sound Hole Contest Winners Announced!

This carved "world tree" sound hole adorns the back of a custom Appalachian-style banjo built by Logan Maxwell.
This carved “world tree” sound hole adorns the back of a custom Appalachian-style banjo built by Logan Maxwell.

Congratulations to Logan Maxwell of Shinnston, WV for the winning entry!!!

Maxwell won the $100 C. B. Gitty gift certificate for his Tree of Life soundhole design.  Maxell says about his design,

“I used curly maple for the neck and walnut for the body as well as the fingerboard. The sound hole for the back of the banjo is my rendition of the tree of life.  I free-handed the outline then cut it on a scroll saw; then I took a dremel and rounded the edges. I did not keep track, but up to that point I probably already had about 3 hours in it.  I’m sure I at least doubled that on sanding, by hand, making sure all the previous grit or cutting marks were taken off.”

More Winners & the Torturous Judging Process:

To say that judging this contest was a torturous process is an understatement.  We received 54 amazing entries (see all of them here), each one unique and pushing the boundaries of homemade instruments.  From scroll saw art to eye catching design work, each one could have been a winner.

But we could only pick three top winners and three honorable mentions.  Sigh…  These results will surely cause discussion and debate.  Good art does that. 

And this is good art.

Second Prize:  $75 C. B. Gitty Gift Certificate is awarded to The 57 Chevy Flames by Jim Derrenbacker of Floral City, FL

Jim Derrenbacker’s 57 Chevy Guitar with Flame Soundholes

Third Prize:  $50 C. B. Gitty Gift Certificate is awarded to Jeff Cox of Fort Worth, TX and his popping skulls

Spooky inset skull sound holes in a cigar box guitar by Jeff Cox.
Spooky inset skull sound holes in a cigar box guitar by Jeff Cox.

Honorable Mentions:  C. B. Gitty added additional prizes in the final weeks, including three honorable mentions.  These builders will each receive a $25 C. B. Gitty gift certificate.

Thanks to everybody who submitted entries to the contest.  Look for a new build-off contest coming soon…

-Ben and the C. B. Gitty Staff


CAROUSEL - reso covers

Get Rooted! A Celebration of Playable Art gathers Australian performers and builders for a day of cigar box guitars

On Sunday, May 31, cigar box guitar builders and performers converged at The New Globe Theatre in Queensland Australia for the Get Rooted Festival. Organized by Penny Nelson, the fest featured headliner, The Nigel McTrustry Cigar Box Explosion who delivered a blistering set.

Other performers included Miss Gertrude on hub cap guitar, the Jollie Angelinas featuring Mama JuJu, Dusty Stockroute and a cigar box guitar workshop by Pat Curley.

The fest also featured instrument vendors including hubcap guitars and cigar box amps by Krazy Kaatz Guitars by Barry Kaatz along with cigar box guitars by Rob Brighton of Stogey box strings.

Special thanks to Nigel McTrusty for photos and information!