Blues Legend, Scrapper Blackwell Recalls His Cigar Box Guitar


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.

Scrapper Blackwell also started out on a homemade cigar box guitar.  In a 1960 interview with Jazz Monthly magazine, Blackwell retraces his origins and describes his first guitar: Continue reading “Blues Legend, Scrapper Blackwell Recalls His Cigar Box Guitar”

Shane Speal Interviewed by Offbeat for NOLA Cigar Box Guitar Fest

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…

Sally Struthers with a Cigar Box Guitar

Sally StruthersSally Struthers stopped by C. B. Gitty headquarters a while back to check out the operations and pick up a cigar box guitar for a good friend.

The vivacious star of “All in the Family”, “Gibson Girls” and hundreds of on-stage performances was good enough to pose here with one of Gitty’s custom models.

Check out our Celebrity Cigar Box Guitars gallery here on to see more photos of celebrities with our favorite homemade instrument!

Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones tries out a Cigar Box Guitar

Ronnie Wood with Cigar Box GuitarCigar Box Nation recently broke the story about legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood trying his hand at a cigar box guitar. Turns out it was a Daddy Mojo built by our friend Lenny Robert. Get the full details from the feature article over at!

Old Homemade Ukulele at the American Pickers Nashville Store

Mike Wolfe (American Pickers) Antique Homemade UkuleleWhile 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.

Chris Cornell and Eric Roberts with a Cigar Box Guitar

Eric Roberts & Chris CornellAnother 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.


Jimmy Buffett with a Gas Can Ukulele

Front cover of the Jimmy Buffett ukulele songbook.
Front cover of the Jimmy Buffett ukulele songbook.

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!