This has been niggling at me for months, and now is the time to raise this in the community. I’m guessing that many of you have, in response to some question or another, replied “I build guitars. Well, actually, when I say guitars I mean cigar box guitars...” and then apologise for not being Paul Reed Smith or Senor Ibanez. I have a friend who, after admiring one of my creations, said “So when are you going to try building a proper guitar?” meaning (I asked) one with six strings.
I’ve now stopped apologising for what I do, which is design and build guitars. The fact that they have three strings (or fewer) does not make them any less a guitar. There are twelve-string guitars out there, so has (say) Slash ever apologised for playing a six-string instrument, humbly admitting that it’s not a real guitar because it’s only got six strings? No one has a go at banjo or ukulele players- or bass players (much). The friend who urged me to try to build “a proper guitar” is herself a bass player, but did not spot the irony (well, she IS a bass player...).
I’ll write It again. I design and build guitars. Pretty much every member of CBN designs and builds guitars. We are not slavish followers of standard templates- single cut, double cut, figure-of-eight, and... er, that’s it- although most of our builds are rectangular, to be fair. Pretty much every git by every member is different, with its own problems to be overcome. I look at a piece of hardwood and then design and build a guitar around it, or I build an attractive box and then design a neck to fit. Headstock shape, depth of box, manner of tailpiece, length of scale- we design these things, people, and then we build them. And they work, most of the time, and we learn something new, and we apply it to the next one, and the next one...
No more apologies, no more qualifications, no more “well, they’re not real guitars”- I design and build guitars. We all do.
We build guitars.
I've made many guitars and partscasters over the years. I've made Cigar Box guitars and other type gits based on CBG's.
You can make whatever your heart desires, but is it a CBG? Only if it has a cigar box. If it doesn't have a cigar box, it's something else. A canjo, Reso, Banjo, Uke, Mandola, Mandochello, Mandolin, Diddly BO or a solid body Tenor guitar.
Just my opinion though based on past builds of others, your opinion may vary.
And that was part of my (laboured) point- that I do not use cigar boxes, so in that sense they are not cbgs. They are, however, chordophones, and in the absence of a narrow identifying label (eg. uke, banjo, viola, or whatever) they are simply guitars. So, unapologetically, I build guitars. We all do.
" Hey Jimi Hendrix , When are you gonna get a proper left handed guitar ?
I wouldn't worry to much about not being PR Smith. That guy's as nuts as you can get. He'll go one for hours about how glue destroys sustain. Then praise his maple topped guitars like they grew that way.
The heart of Cigar Box Guitar is make a guitar out of what ever you have. Cigar box guitar is all about hand made instruments. Not a hang up on what the body is made of. It's all good.
Anonymous, Remember when people would buy left handed guitars. Change everything over so they'd be set up right handed. Because they thought they'd sound more like Hendrix? People do the dumbest things. :) Had a drummer for years. Phenomenal musician. Left handed. He played guitar and piano as well. Set his drums up right handed and owned nothing but right handed guitars. Because he wanted to be able to play any drum set at any gig. And wanted to be able to play anyone's guitar.
lol.. I actually strung a lefty swamp witch backwards , just so i could play the demo . lol. then restrung it before shipping . ;-)
“Hand made instruments”- thank you Mr Rat sir. Not made in a sweatshop somewhere, not MiJ (or MiK or MiC as is more likely these days), but guitars hand made, with variable amounts of skill and attention to detail. Real guitars for real people. Guitars for folks. Folk guitars?
I hold no brief for Mr Smith, but a couple of aficionados I know think his stuff is the dog’s b@ll@cks. Anyway- and as per a previous discussion with Uncle J- I use screws.
Well said, Walt.
I tell people that I make guitars out of cigar boxes, license plates and junk -which regarding the 'junk' is occasionally but not usually true. I also use fewer 'proper' cigar boxes and more home mades. Some times I go further and say they are roots instruments that come from a long tradition of poor folks making basic home made guitars, fiddles and banjos.
Oh! LOOK OUT! I am on my soap box now. There will always be music snobs and guitar snobs. They piss me off and bring out my aggressive side. I want to bite and kick them. Well, maybe just a light slap upside the head. They tend to be the folks with expensive high end brands who look down on folks playing cheaper stuff. Screw em'. But leave the horse they rode in on to peace.
Whew! Sorry. Only a small portion of players get and greatly enjoy the great pleasure of making music on an instrument we made our selves.
Guitar snobs indeed. A friend has 50+(!) guitars, and is constantly acquiring more. We are invited to marvel at the flawless green lacquer or the limited edition honeyburst paint-job of something shipped by a slow boat from Japan costing maybe $700 to $900, but at the end of the day it’s just (yet) another Les Paul copy (he has dozens of them). I’ve never made two gits the same way, and can tell them all apart in the dark- and I don’t care if they get knocked against something. And LPs are so goddam heavy!
A more sane guitarist friend has noted the satisfaction of having an earworm that nobody else knows because you composed it yourself. How about an earworm that you composed yourself on a guitar that you built yourself?
Yup, Walt. A self written song played on a guitar the player made is about the best.
Oh ya. This is awesome. Like bringing life to something you've created. I've got a good hand full of store bought guitars. They've been in their cases for years now.
Whatever you play or build, eventually there will be a snob. Oh that's not even a Cigar Box, those boxes are cheap - you need a more expensive cigar box. Haha
My box sounds better than your box Naa Naa NaaNaa Naa!
Gibson is under new management now and if you haven't seen the prices on their new line up, you'd better sit down first. I only saw one guitar under 1k and it only made it by 1 dollar. LOL They have a new Slash 58 Les Paul tribute guitar for only 12,999.99USD. Well dang, I'll sell my new car just to get one - no thank you. I'll keep building my own or buy cheaper brands thanks.