Posted by: kubiakl | October 27, 2008

Cigar Box Guitars

I happened to be across the river today in south Austin.  Whenever I’m in that area and have time I like to go to one of the guitar shops around there.  North Austin has Guitar Center.  GC isn’t a bad place (in fact, two of my guitars came from there), but the selection is standard.  You’ll find the big brands (and lots of them – 50 different Stratocasters is nothing to sneeze at) but you won’t find the odd instruments that smaller shops carry.

South Austin has Heart O’ Texas music (where Stevie Ray Vaughan bought his #1 Strat), Music Makers, and South Austin Music, among others.  It was South Austin Music that called to me today.  I plucked around on various acoustics and electrics before deciding that none of them really caught my ear.  Just as I was moving towards their selection of slides I saw one of these leaned up against a rack of instructional books:



The strings were about an inch away from the fretboard.  This thing was clearly built for slide guitar.  I tuned it somewhat (meaning I just made the strings sound decent together) and borrowed a glass slide.

Wow.  I had no idea how much fun these little things were!  As I sat there stomping my foot and nooding around, I realized why so many people were devoted fans of CBGs.  It’s probably illegal in 38 states to have more fun than I was having.

And I’ll tell you a secret: they’re cheap.  The example I picked up was around $140.  Some websites build fancier models with pickups and better necks, but some websites also have DIY guides.  Here’s one:

Cigar Box Guitar Builder’s Guide

In case you need more convincing to check out CBGs, here’s a few videos of people playing them:

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some materials to buy…



  1. For example, in the early 19th century, musical snuff boxes were made of inexpensive material from the precious metal family such as gold and silver. Folk Music

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