The Simplicity of the Cigar Box Guitar

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, the pop of the top, the condensation wetting your hand 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.

The situations are all comfortable. Simple. They feel timeless and like they are all your own.

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

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

Creating something from what appears to be nothing is a wonderful accomplishment. When that something can make music, well then it turns magnificent.

tail piece of the guitar used in this tutorial of how to install a neck brace

Your cigar box guitar can give you untold happiness

There is an undeniable sense of nostalgia to 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 wonderful 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.

close up image of headstock

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

The joy in the simple 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 greatest 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 greatest 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 will help you. It’s easy to gripe about not having enough time, not having the “right” tools, and having to 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.

close up image of a soundhole

So enjoy that hot cup of coffee in the morning while looking over your build. Hell, 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 weight 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 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
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