Beatles “Come Together” on Cigar Box Guitar

Another in our series of responses to the question of “So what can you really play on one of them things”, we present the Blues Doctor Stacy Mitchhart and his band belting out a rocking rendition of the classic Beatles’ song Come Together.

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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

Meet Shane Speal, King of the Cigar Box Guitar

11428153_373708422839127_374176738_oWe just added a new entry to the library, an article telling the story of the man who is largely responsible for the existence of the modern cigar box guitar movement.

Shane Speal started building cigar box guitars in 1993, and from that time has been tirelessly promoting the instrument, performing onstage with them, and creating online communities to help people discover the instrument and start building their own. He took the title “King of the Cigar Box Guitar” back when such a title seemed full of irony – who would want to be the king of such a crazy, primitive, mostly forgotten instrument?

This article by Glenn Watt re-introduces Shane Speal to those who may never have heard of him. For 22 years he has been building, playing, and preaching cigar box guitars.

Click the image or link above to view the full article.

Patriotic Songs for Memorial Day Weekend

memorial-day-clip-art-4Did you know that we have a collection of Patriotic and other “Americana” song tablature in our knowledgebase library?

For the one-string canjo, we have My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

For 3-string Cigar Box Guitars (tuned to Open G GDG), we have America’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, arranged by Glenn Watt.

As an added bonus, we have Woodie Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land, a classic folk song celebrating the wide expanse of America’s beauty.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!

A Real “Roots” Instrument: a Fifth-grader’s Tree Branch Diddley Bow

Nick Krissie is a teacher at the Sunset School in Coos Bay, Oregon. He recently started a series of handmade instrument building workshops with students in the school, focused on teaching them to both build and play instruments like cigar box guitars.

Recently Nick sent us some photographs of something special one of his fifth-graders had brought in. Entirely of his own volition, outside of school, this youngster build his very own diddley bow out of a tree branch, some screws and a length of wire.

“From what he told me he has a hand saw he used to cut the branch and I am not sure about a drill for the screws,” Krissie said. “The bridge is nailed in but it was loose so he lashed it with tape. He wanted to use a can for a resonator but he couldn’t get it to fit. I might help him make a pickup to put on it. The string is very tight and the stick is fairly short so it is high pitched. He was using a little plastic flashlight as a slide.”

For us, this strikes right to the core of what the handmade music movement is all about. A simple instrument like this, built by a creative and inquisitive child, takes the idea of musical instruments back to its most fundamental, personal roots, as far as you can get from the shiny, clear-coated, mass-produced Tele clones being cranked out of factories all over the world.

This is where it begins, and what it’s all about. We need more fifth graders making diddley bows in this world.

Glenn Watt and Kenny Rogers on Cigar Box Guitar Building

We have a feed of Glenn Watt’s blog here on the front page of, but his most recent post deserves some special attention.

In it, Glenn uses the words from Kenny’s famous song “The Gambler” as a motivational road map to building cigar box guitars (and doing pretty much any other DIY project as well).

Whether you’ve built one CBG or several hundred, give this a read. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

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!

New Cigar Box Guitar History Section – Historic Plans

Click on the image above to view the Historic Plans knowledgebase category.
Click on the image above to view the Historic Plans knowledgebase category.

We have created a new knowledgebase category here on the site, specifically dedicated to historic plans for building cigar box guitars, ukuleles and other homemade instruments. These vintage plans from long-forgotten publications helped keep the do-it-yourself instrument hobby alive through the years, and without them who knows if we’d have a modern cigar box guitar revival!

Click here or on the image to the right to check out the category. We will be adding many more entries in the near future, so be sure to check back often. And if you know of any such plans, be sure to let us know!

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!