You may be thinking that plans published in a guitar mag in 1976 aren’t quite old enough to qualify as “historic”. These plans are special though, because these are the ones that Shane Speal used to build his first cigar box guitar… and from that first cigar box guitar, he went on to jump-start the entire modern cigar box guitar revival.
This article on how to build a cigar box ukulele comes from the June, 1917 edition of Popular Mechanics. In it S. H. Samuels walks the reader through the basics of constructing a uke, which in 1917 “was made at a cost of 30 cents, by careful selection of materials from the shop scrap stock.”
This story first appeared in The Book Buyer: A Summary of American and Foreign Literature in 1884-1885. It was written by Daniel Carter Beard, who also founded the Boy Scouts of America. It tells the story of a Christmas Eve where the boys Tom, Dick and Harry discover that their beloved Uncle Enos has built himself a banjo out of a cigar box and broomstick. Continue reading “Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos (with Cigar Box Banjo Plans) – by Daniel C. Beard – Circa 1884”
Step-by-step instructions from the early 1900’s, including a detailed diagram, on building a cigar box Ukulele. Continue reading “Cigar Box Ukulele Plans by Charles A. King (circa 1920)”
Here is a short article from the July, 1920 edition of Popular Science Monthly, in which author Frank W. Vroom gives fairly brief instructions for constructing what he calls a “Jazzolin” using a cigar box. This is basically another take on the classic one-string cigar box fiddle. Continue reading “Cigar Box Violin (Jazzolin) – Popular Science Monthly, July 1920”
This clipping from a 1928 newspaper that gives instructions on how to make a one-string violin using a cigar box, a few scraps of wood and a string. Continue reading “Cigar Box Violin Plans – 1928 Newspaper Clipping”
This article ran in the September, 1923 edition of Popular Mechanics, and gives a fairly brief overview of building fiddles, mandolins and guitars using cigar box resonators.
Click on the image below to view the printable PDF document for these plans. They were published in the February-March 1948 edition of the Science and Mechanics magazine. If you want to see an old movie of W. C. Fields having an energetic time with a similar instrument, check out this video post on Cigar Box Nation.