CIGAR BOX GUITAR VIDEO LESSON: “Back Door Man” by Howlin’ Wolf

In this video lesson, Shane Speal distills Howlin’ Wolf’s two-guitar attack in the song, “Back Door Man” into one easy riff for cigar box guitar. Speal is the author of Making Poor Man’s Guitars (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2018)

Shane Speal distills the double-guitar attack of Howlin’ Wolf’s 1960 classic, “Back Door Man” into a single 3-string cigar box guitar riff. You will need to tune your guitar to Open E (EBE), which is lower than standard Open G.

For reference, we present the original recording first…

“Back Door Man” was recorded in Chicago in June 1960 by Howlin’ Wolf (vocals), Otis Spann (piano), Hubert Sumlin and Freddy Robinson (guitars), Willie Dixon (double bass), and Fred Below (drums). 

Sumlin and Robinson’s guitars continue to weave in and out with Spann’s piano…making a very busy groove.

Speal takes the Low E string guitar groove and mixed it with a High E string part to create a simplified riff that incorporates much of the mojo.


-Shane Speal

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