The next time someone asks you what kind of music can be played on a Cigar Box Guitar…

…tell them to shut up and watch this video. Ben Uke Rouse does an amazing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” on a 3-string CBG.

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.

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.

Kids can build Cigar Box Guitars – Just keep it Pure & Simple

Tim Ellis and Daughter - Pure & Simple Kit

C. B. Gitty customer Tim Ells recently sent us these pictures of his daughter and himself building a cigar box guitar using Gitty’s Pure & Simple Cigar Box Guitar Kit. This is what it’s all about, and exactly what Gitty had in mind when designing the kit!

Why the Cigar Box Guitar Revolution Really is a Revolution

Back in the mid 1990’s, Shane Speal played a primary role in the rediscovery of the cigar box guitar. Drawn to their primitive, raw sound and power, and how far removed they were from the main-stream musical establishment scene, he declared the start of the Cigar Box Guitar Revolution.

Cigar Box Nation LogoThese days, 20 or so years into the modern CBG revival, people sometimes roll their eyes or scoff a bit when we still refer to this movement as a revolution. I am here to tell you it still is, and I just a reminder of why this morning.

A couple of days ago, I posted a knowledgebase article on Zero Frets, with the goal of introducing cigar box guitar builders to this often overlooked or misunderstood topic. This morning I found in my inbox a comment from a man who is a luthier, and runs a website dedicated to luthiery. I will not name him or his site, that is not the point of this blog post. Suffice to say, it is the sort of site where the subcellular structures of certain strains of Sitka spruce grown in certain soils, and the effects of all of that on tonal quality, are discussed.

His comment on my zero fret article was this, and I quote: “Utterly wrong. Sorry. Indefensibly so. Back to the drawing board.”

Immediately, I thought “what did I get wrong”? Continue reading “Why the Cigar Box Guitar Revolution Really is a Revolution”

Cigar Box Guitar Inspiration from Glenn Watt

Need a dose of cigar box guitar-related humour and motivation? Read Glenn Watt’s latest blog post:

HUMILITY, FRET SAWS, AND A FLAMING CIGAR BOX GUITAR

Glenn is quickly becoming one of the most active and insightful voices of the cigar box guitar and handmade/homemade music movement. His mixture of inspiration and humility, humour and plainly stated how-to information can be useful and instructive for both new builders and veteran CBG-ers.

The Simplicity of Cigar Box Guitars

by Glenn Watt

It’s the feel of your favorite bathrobe with a hot cup of coffee steaming in your hand on a morning when you can take your time to get your day going.

It’s the feel of a cold can of your go-to beer, and the satisfying pop of the top before sitting down in your chair to watch your favorite team for the afternoon.

It’s your old dog, faithful and loving, sitting next to you, waiting with loyal eyes to heed your every word.

These situations are all comfortable. They’re simple. They feel timeless, and like they are all your own.

These are things we seek to find stability and joy, reliability, and mastery.

Your cigar box guitar can provide for you these same things.

Your cigar box guitar can give you untold happiness

There is an undeniable nostalgia in re-purposing goods that seem to have lost value. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Creating something from what appears to be nothing is a beautiful accomplishment. When that something can make music, well then it turns magnificent.

However, building your cigar box guitar doesn’t have to involve using a tarnished, bent and twisted, old spoon as a tailpiece or a neck made from a privateer shipwreck. Parts for a guitar can easily all be purchased, some even pre-built. This is exceptionally handy when you have a modest supply of tools and a developing skillset.

The key is to make use of and develop whatever skills and tools you already have

The joy in the pure nature of the cigar box guitar can get lost with unrealistic expectations and standards. Don’t compare your skills, craftsmanship, or tools to what someone else has or has done. There are always going to be people further along the timeline of experience than you. And whatever tools and skills they have, have come over the course of time and possibly many builds.

To find the highest satisfaction in being a builder, develop these three skills

  1. Humility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are terrific online communities and groups chock full of people who are glad to lend a hand. There is nothing wrong with not knowing how to get started or how to overcome a particular obstacle. Everyone began with their first build. So will you, if you haven’t already.
  2. Acceptance. You will make mistakes. Embrace them. Each mistake you make, as small or as large as it may be, is an opportunity…no, an obligation for you to learn. Some of the most exceptional CBG designs that you can find have been born of a mistake turned into something positive.
  3. Gratitude. Be appreciative of the time you have to build, to explore, to create. Give thanks to those that help you. It’s easy to gripe about not having enough time, not having the “right” tools, and having too much of the dreaded lack of know-how. It’s easy to fly off the handle if you scratch your pristine cigar box with a drill bit or drill a hole in the wrong place. It can be much more difficult to practice gratitude, but developing this tool will ensure continued growth and success as a builder.

These simple skills are imperative to a fulfilling experience.

So enjoy that hot cup of coffee in the morning while looking over your build. Heck, go ahead and build in your bathrobe.

Sit in your chair with your cigar box guitar and feel the instrument in your hands. Feel the weight of in build, the gravity of the situation. This is your creation. This product of your imagination produces music with your attention.

Care for your CBG. Keep it safe in its own place and in plain sight. Your cigar box guitar will wait for you, faithfully, to coax out of it the music you were meant to play.

It’s a simple thing. Find your enjoyment in its simplicity.

Glenn Watt is a maker of simple things. Join him in celebrating the cigar box guitar at glennwatt.com