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.

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And all this time I thought I was making fancy firewood with strings!

Hey Will, I like the term "building guitars from fancy firewood".....Hmmmm! I might use that.

I build and sell full size guitars but I cant build them quick enough to have new ones to display on the wall. So I have 20 or so cigar box guitars and cigar box style guitars [that's what I call them] hanging on display. I'm surprised how many customers immediately say "Oh! cigar box guitars" as they walk though the door. Only two of them are from real cigar boxes.


  • LOL. I'm on the fence about the definition of a CBG. I haven't finished my first CBG and have orders for 5 and I don't advertise. BTW I'll be happy to share that line.

Sorry, its copyrighted. What about " One mans guitars from another mans firewood".


Apropos one of my earlier comments (that more than half of new six-stringers bought are not played at all more than six months later) I offer you “guitars for playing, not for looking at”, or “you won’t be leaving this one in its case”.

I’ve cleared an old garage recently (gonna build a workshop) and found an old office desk- damp, warped, mouldy. However, the plywood drawer bottoms were perfectly dry, flat and sound, and one of them is already a box. That aside, I mostly use new timber I’m afraid- just not for the purpose much of it was intended (garden benches!)...

'Apropos'! Ease up on the $5 words there Was, it make some of us ole "Stump Jumpers" nervous! LOL Seriously though I learned a new word today, thank you for that.( graduated from the 'SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS'!) Looked it up, thought it was a Greek philosopher or Taff's nickname.(The Aussies do some weird shit and talk funny down there) LOL If that's an antique desk, disassemble it, spray bleach(kills the mold and smell), rinse and let it dry then store the larger pieces. All the necks of my Gittys are from an antique cabinet doors. "Saved from the ashes"(copyrighted, Taff!)

Sorry Wal! Didn't see it in time. Damn autocorrect changed Wal to Was. At least it wasn't changed to Wal-Mart! That would have pissed me off!

Nah- it was varnished, and I hate working with/ removing varnish. There was a sort of low occasional table made from well seasoned pine slats, too wide for necks but well capable of being glued side by side in 12” lengths- perfect for the flat-ish solid body electric- which I did save, along with a rusty, nasty old wood-handled hammer. Not rusty or nasty any more, oh no.

Now shed doors are a different matter. Anything will resonate if you strum it hard enough!

If you try hard enough you can make anything sound righteous, the group of people known as "STOMP" comes to mind.  

If you ever come across a piece of moldy wood you want to keep, there is a product called Concrobrium Mold Control. You spray it on moldy wood (put a lot of it) and let it dry overnight. It contains some salts which are supposed to kill mold. Used it when the basement was flooded and it seems to work. But I must say that the lumber wasn't infested with fungi, just the occasional spot. But I know some people who used it down the street and they say it worked fine... though I know for a fact that their noses are not the most sensitive...

"One man's fire is another man's GITTY"!

Hi again, here is some firewood I rescued, silky Oak. I don't only use fire wood for CBG style guitars. More old wardrobe doors.



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