So many great musicians started out on cigar box guitar when they couldn’t afford a real guitar. Sometimes all they needed was a stick, a box and a few strings to get those magical sounds.
In the hierarchy of blues, Francis Hillman “Scrapper” Blackwell is one of the true originators. Among his many hits in the 1920’s and 1930’s, he wrote and recorded Kokomo Blues, the song that was transformed into “Old Kokomo Blues” by Kokomo Arnold before being redone as “Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson.
Want to capture that awesome sound of Seasick Steve’s 4-string cigar box guitar? Shane Speal shows you how to set yours up and then get his playing style for the song “In Don’t Know Why She Love Me (But She Do).”
Shane Speal’s goal is simply stated: “I want to help make New Orleans home to the premier cigar box festival in the world.”
A musician and historian hailed as “King of the Cigar Box Guitar” and the man responsible for the instrument’s recent revival, Speal spoke with OffBeat from his backyard woodshop in York, Pennsylvania as he put final touches on a handmade cigar box guitar—he’s built more than 2,000 since 1993. >>Read more…
While down in Nashville, TN for the Summer NAMM show, Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker took some time out to visit the American Pickers store down there. As might be expected, most of the coolest stuff was from Mike Wolfe’s personal collection “Not For Sale” – including this amazing old homemade ukulele. The tag describes it as a “Wooden Square Ukulele” and doesn’t give any more information, so we’re going to try to contact the folks at Antique Archaeology to see if they can provide any more backstory on it: how old it is, where it came from, whether anything about the maker is known.
Another celebrity CBG sighting! Word on the street is that this cigar box guitar (builder currently unknown) was played by Eric Roberts in an in-production Chris Cornell music video. If you know who built it, let us know!
Check out more pics of celebrities with cigar box guitars here.
When we think homemade instruments, Jimmy Buffett’s name doesn’t usually spring to mind. But apparently he has at least held a homemade instrument during a photo shoot. The photo to the left shows the front cover of the Uke’an Play Jimmy Buffett songbook, released in 2010.
That appears to be a primitive gas can uke that he is holding there in the picture, and while we’d love to know more about it (and how it came into Jimmy’s hands), so far we haven’t been able to find any more information. Was it just a prop handed to him in a “this would look cool for the photo” moment, or does Jimmy have some familiarity, and appreciation for, primitive handmade instruments? Was that primitive uke just something that was hanging on the wall in the place they were doing the photo shoot?
Our decidedly un-exhaustive research on Google didn’t turn up any other images or references to the king parrothead with homemade instruments, but who knows. If you know any more of the story behind this, please let us know!
Jeff Daniels, in addition to being a great actor, is also an avid songwriter and musician. Recently he discovered cigar box guitars, and joined his son’s band onstage where they all had a spin on their CBGs. Good stuff!