I first saw a cigar box guitar on the internet in about 2005. Blues Boy Jag was the guy and he could play! He gave tips on building and I wanted to build.
CBGs were not my first builds. I made two pretty decent mountain dulcimers in the late 90s, and a very crappy six string travel guitar.
Procuring parts was not so simple. I found a cigar box at an antique store. I drove 50 miles down to Omaha, Nebraska to a guitar repair shop and bought used tuners. The biggest adventure was a piezo. I'd seen online how to use a door bell buzzer and get the piezo out and use it on a guitar.
My first CBG was pretty cool. I tuned it DAD and the strings must have been a half inch off the fretless fretboard. It sounded pretty good and I was thrilled the first time I plugged in and the doorbell piezo worked.
Blues Boy Jag had some playing instructions and I believe the other instruction I found was John McNair. Even with a background of mediocrity on six strings and mandolin, those instructions did not take hold for me with the DAD guitar.
I went back to Omaha and bought frets and tuners and back to Radio Shack for another doorbell buzzer. I made a fretted 4 string, modeling the fretboard off my six string. It was pretty decent and that surprises me now because the only CBGs I recall seeing on line back then were fretless.
I found CBN in 09' or maybe 2010. I lurked a few times and then worked up the courage to join. It was great fun. I think there were about a thousand members then and Kenni Lee Burgess and John McNair seemed to be all over CBN and youtube with lessons. But it was knotlenny's CBG 101 that got me going. What a great thrill that was and I am forever grateful.
I went on a building jag and man, was it fun! I would lose sleep thinking how I was going to do this or that to my CBG in progress. Exciting times. Gitty must have just been getting started about then. I recall him having tuners, frets, disc piezos, brass tent grommets for sound holes – and not a lot more. No fretting templates, f hole templates, ready to use necks, fret boards, pre-wired parts, etc.
Those were creative and fun times – going to CBN to see what people came up with. So much seemed first time new. And if I saw it I would often try it.... Hubcaps, paint lid resonators, cat bowl resonators, license plate guitars. Good times, my friends! All of the fancy gear and parts available now makes it easier to create a nice build. But I think it takes away some of the fun and creativity.
My early CBN days were creative playing times too. I discovered that I am much better on three strings than six. I wanted to make a video! I was shocked to realize I could make videos on my $60.00 Kodak camera- the one I still use!
That first video was scary. I was nervous and had no clue how to edit start and stop times and no clue about lighting. Most of the vids back then (2010) were more basic than what we see now. The comments on my first vid were friendly and helpful and I realized I was making friends.
Friends..... from all over the USA and world. Wow! I dug it. Still do. One sad thing for me is to see some good CBG friends come and go. Things change. Times change. I realize that my passions have come and gone too. I no longer race dirt bikes, play competitive chess or dress like a woman and sky dive. Actually, I never did dress like a woman and sky dive.
Festivals... Early on, I wanted to go to York Fest - a long and costly trip. Never did make it. Likely never will. KC fest has been great fun. I think this year will be the 5th year. It's good meeting CBN friends and making new friends. And the players down there! Wow. Good folks too.
In some ways these days we live in are bad times. But the internet has many good things to offer. I've learned so much about CBGs, music, blues and blues history. And I've found friends and an audience for my music. I am thankful!
Where is this CBG world going? It has highs and lows. People come and go. CBGs will never go away. Building is fun – some times frustrating as hell, but fun. Playing and singing is fun. Playing an instrument built by our own hands is even better.
I am glad to have found my way to the CBG world and I thank all of my friends and all of you who contribute to our fun pastime.
Thanks, King. It is a strange trip at times.
Thank you U.J. you were the first to welcome me at the nation of music and art lovers!!
I remember you even commented my hair cut.
That will always stick with me.
So much thanks to all of my CBN friends out there thanks for your kindness and comments!
Most of all thanks to you U.J. blessings!!!
Blessings and thanks back at you. We need a J Rob work place video!
March 2012 -
Good thoughts and mottoes, RTZ.
Great post. I began my CBG journey back in February 2011. You were one of the first to encourage me. I built a ton of gits back then some good, some bad,, most mediocre (I can be truthful now). It has been a long strange trip indeed. Sold my first few at an arts and craft fair in Davie, Florida then for some reason quit selling (but not building, stacking 'em up like cordwood. Got rid of most of them at our moving sale for virtually nothing a year ago. I've ventured into true lutherie with a few custom made ukuleles. Now in Texas I have a permanent space in a little store and selling 1-2 a week on average. And I credit you with most of my inspiration and success.
Great stuff, Uncle John. I'm glad I found CBGs. In 2012, I had just left my previous job after 26 years and had plenty of time to relax and build CBGs. Since then, my 'part time' job has become less 'part time' and there are a few other things going on, including moving house to the other side of the country. I hope to get back to enjoying hobbies at some point.
I take your point about all the shiny gadgets taking away some creativity, but I guess that's down to what you want to do. People can be as original as they like.
Thanks for sharing your views.
UJ my friend, I`m pretty sure you were the first friend I had on here in my original guise as plain old tony johnson.
It`s very true that there a lot of members who come and go, I`m one myself,but it has to be said anyone who is here for a year or so is hooked for life.
I`ve been away for a couple of months or so, and will be going away again shortly as I`m having 6 months in France (woohoo I retired!) and the internet is lousy!
But rest assured I`ll come back here and I`ll carry on building CBG`s of all shapes and sizes, dulcimers and whatever else gets the old juices flowing.
I`ll keep on having fun with these things. C`est la vie!