Photo of Ballet Dancers from 1924 with a Cigar Box Guitar

Here’s a neat old photograph from our Vintage Photos archive. It was originally a black and white and was colorized at some point. The caption on the original read “These are dancers of the National American Ballet in 1924, relaxing with some music in a meadow in their down time.” Notice the girl in the center with the cigar box guitar!

1924 Ballet Troup with Cigar Box Guitar - Colorized

You can see more cool pictures of cigar box guitars and other homemade instruments in the Vintage Photos section of our knowledgebase

Historical Musical Instruments Patents Series – From game-changing inventions to just-plain-cool oddities

Patent - 1923 - US1446758 - Gibson Truss Rod Screen ShotWe have just posted the first in what will be a lengthy series of historical U. S. musical instrument patents. In this series we will feature historically significant inventions (the innaugral post is what we believe to be the first adjustable guitar truss rod, awarded to Gibson in 1923), as well as other interesting, inspirational or oddball musical inventions from the last 150 or so years.

Our hope is that cigar box guitar builders and other homemade & handmade instrument crafters will find these patents useful and even inspirational. We often find that looking at what has been done in the past can be a great starting point for coming up with new innovations.

We hope you enjoy this new feature of the knowledgebase!

Ever wanted to know how to build a One-string Cigar Box Violin?

W. C. Fields and his one-string Cigar Box Violin
Click the image above to view the knowledgebase post.

One-string cigar box violins/fiddles played a big role in early vaudeville performances, and if you’ve ever thought about building one, here’s your chance! We just added a new entry to the “Historic Plans” section of the knoweldgebase – a great old magazine article from 1948 showing you how to build a simple one-string cigar box violin.

We even included a link to a video post over on Cigar Box Nation where you can see W. C. Fields making quite a todo over playing one of these instruments.


How to build Shane Speal’s Mailbox Resonator Guitar/Dobro

Shane Speal may be King of the Cigar Box Guitar, but he doesn’t just stop there – he has built and collected an amazing variety of crazy homemade instruments. In the article linked below, he walks you through how he built a dobro (resonator guitar) using a cheap metal mailbox. I’ve seen him play this monster on stage and it really has a great sound, so if you have been looking for something cool and different to build, click the image below and check it out!

Click the image above to see the full article on
Click the image above to see the full article on

You’ve never seen a Cigar Box Guitar quite like this one…

Michael Van Slyke's Aluminum Frame Cigar Box GuitarCigar Box Nation member Michael Van Slyke of Texas recently uploaded this photo of a custom 6-string cigar box guitar he built. Check out that custom-shaped aluminum bar stock outer frame! This is the sort of creative and innovative work is inspiring for builders everywhere.

Click the image to the right to see the full-size photo, or click here to check out Michael’s page on Cigar Box Nation where some of his other creations can be seen. Michael is one of thousands of amazing, innovative folks on Cigar Box Nation creating cigar box guitars and other wacky homemade instruments. If you’re ever short on inspiration for your next build, spend a few minutes browsing through the photos over there and you’ll soon have no shortage of ideas!


Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos

Christmas Eve with Uncle EnosJust in time for Christmas, we’ve just posted a PDF of the 4-page Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos story, written by Daniel Carter Beard (co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America), and first published in the 1884-1885 edition of The Book Buyer.

This is more than just a story though, as it contains full how-to plans meant to get boys building their own 5-string banjos out of cigar boxes. As such it was both one of the earliest published mentions of cigar box instruments, as well as one of the first sets of published plans for how to build them!

Disclaimer: We present the digital version of the original document here in its full, unedited form. Some the terminology used in it in regards to race may be considered by some today to be offensive. We present it here only as a historical curiosity and educational artifact.

VIDEO Feature: How to play Cigar Box Guitar like Seasick Steve – by Shane Speal

Have you seen this? It’s a video lesson where the King himself, Mr. Shane Speal, walks you through how to tune your cigar box guitars and play them like Seasick Steve!

Shane Speal plays The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” on the Cigar Box Guitar

This is the classic Beatles song, beautifully rendered by Shane Speal on his stage-beaten and time-worn Macanudo 3-string cigar box guitar. Shane really captures the dark and subtle depth of this simple yet nuanced tune.

Cigar Box Guitar Free Album Feature – Rolling Stones Tribute

Cigar Box Guitar enthusiasts have been busily recording original and tribute/cover albums for years, and over at Dan Sleep has diligently been organizing all of it into a single page of free downloads. In this post we are featuring the tribute album to the Rolling Stones that Cigar Box Nation member “407bug” organized last year.

Like most of the albums organized by CBN members over the years, this one mostly features homemade instruments and a wide range of styles and methods – and did we mention it’s free?

Click here to visit the Cigar Box Nation Free Albums Download Page, then scroll down a little to find the Rolling Stones tribute link. Clicking on the download link will take you to an external site where you can download the ZIP file that holds the MP3s (because of copyright issues the actual tracks can’t be hosted on CigarBoxNation itself).


C. B. Gitty sings the Ice Bucket Blues for ALS Challenge

Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker was recently called out to do the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Never one to just pour a bucket of icewater over his own head all willy-nilly, Ben gathered up the C. B. Gitty crew and headed up to the roof of Gitty Mills to sing a little blues and take care of business.

In the next few weeks Ben and the Gitty workshop crew will be making custom guitars from those paint cans, and listing them for sale at $100 each on the C. B. Gitty web store. Half of the proceeds of those guitars will be donated to the ALS Foundation.