I have had a great deal of fun building instruments of different kinds but can't claim to be a musician. I had played the cello in high school forty five years ago and started with the harp in 1990. I quickly learned that the harp is a snooty instrument world. Its inhabited by long slender women with long slender fingers - quite a few men too. Mostly guys are harp builders and movers. I accepted my plight and muddled along. I tried a half dozen teachers over the years and learned that they all could play much better than me. Teachers usually can play but seldom can teach. I have been raising my long slender fingered daughter since she was seven. She has been through another half dozen expert harp player teachers who couldn't teach. We had fun but neither of us became musicians. The fun became work and we didn't get much support. I am still active in the harp world but less so.

With the loss of my shop I had to regroup. I fully realized that there was no way I could rebuild this mess and replace it all. Not enough years or earning power left, short of winning the lottery, and I don't play it. It struck me that playing some blue grass and such might be fun. I went for a strumstick style instrument since it seemed sort of do-able. This led me to CigarBoxNation by way of the search engines on the internet.

I discovered that building cigarbox gits was a bit more complex than it originally seemed but still fun and possible. Now I had to figure out how to play. Had to work on tabs and tuning and stringing and scale lengths and piezos and learn about amps and all kinds of stuff. I still find that I don't want to work hard at reading music and memorizing songs and so I DIDN"T DO IT. !! What I did do was learn a bit about the old delta blues and when I started hearing it, It just went click !! That was the sound that had been missing from my life. Its always been there and now I hear it in commercials and background music and in my head. Amazing how often it pops up. A little riff hear and there!!

So I spent a lot of time dinking around or I guess its called noodling? And pretty soon I am making bluesy kinds of sounds and feeling kinda good about it all. No more than that !! I became happy about it. Now for an old fart happy is kind of elusive and certainly noticeable. As I got better I wanted to share it and show off - kinda natural to do that but this is some strange stuff to lots of folks.

Next I discovered that guitar people by and large are snobs. Mean thing to say maybe, but dang, they sneer at me from a distance and talk a strange language about amps and guitars and stuff that seem awfully important to them. They don't seem interested in this music thing I have discovered..... Then I met a guy that works at Lowes and he is completely blown away by my cigarbox guitars and loves them and the sound. And I have a couple of other folks about the same. I have met two old blues guys who play this style music really good - I mean really, really, good. I recently got a nice amp - a Roland Micro that makes me sound really good and has me brave enough to go out and play some in public at least around "friends" I have noticed that everyone who has played much on a standard guitar is NOT impressed and that every one else is highly impressed and seem to really like this music. I have worked out several general patterns of play that no doubt are songs of some kind. All from my head and heart and fun to me. I find it a bit disturbing to find this attitude so often. I have observed it in dulcimer players, they seem to be stuck on the makers name and how much they paid for the dulcimer. I have definitely seen it all over the harp world - I am presuming that there are fifty different guitar worlds - everything from flamenco to twelve string to metal to who knows what. I was astonished to see an 800 dollar Uke and totally blown away to see a ten thousand dollar guitar.... I am totally impressed by how friendly the folks on CigarBoxNation.com are and how much fun this music is - I hope cigar box builders and players never develop this snob thing. I for one am just delighted to be part of all this. I also fully realize that there are guitar players and musicians of all kinds that do have an open mind - it just seems they are a bit rare. Comments welcome - thanks, Bill Ludeman

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Comment by CanJoe*John on March 21, 2010 at 10:09am
Hey Bill,
You're perception and opinion of the attitudes of some musicians is quite common. There are, of course, various "levels" of experience by those who play musical instruments from the beginner to professional but the majority of those playing music are actually just average "Joe" musicians who make up a huge bulk of the musician world. My view is that God gives special talents in different ways to everybody; to every human being on Earth. I have met and have jammed with or performed with many hundreds of musicians and have frequently been astonished at how talented many are but, honestly, those who make a living as professional performing musicians are, for the most part, the most laid back, unpretentious, and most down-to-earth people on the face of this planet. It's the more common "wannabes" who are more often than not just mediocre musicians at best, those who buy and use expensive name brand equipment to show off with or often only try to "pretend" to be "good" on (even if they CAN play well), who are the main ones who tend to extend arrogance toward other musicians. You wouldn't believe the numbers of amateur singers, musicians, and entertainers who are trying to 'break into' the professional level who approach me and make arrogant comments such as "if I could sing, play, etc for 'Charlie Daniels' just once (or fill in any mainstream artist name), 'I'd make it'". My question back has always been and will always be, "make what?". Playing music well only requires a lot of practice. Once most people learn the basics, practice is the only difference and advantage to advancing. Performing well, though, requires God given talent and a lot of intense hard work, major perseverance and persistent dedication that most of these "wannabes" don't have, are not willing to endure and will never attain. Unless a musician makes 100% of his/her living by performing, then the ONLY reason to play is for pure enjoyment or simple avocation. Many who learn a bit of 'advanced' technique, have some extra practice time or a little experience under their belts and feel their skills to be superior more often still have a LONG way to go and their arrogance is usually most unwarranted. My advice is that you simply ignore them, play what you like on the instruments that YOU enjoy playing the most and only for your own enjoyment and to hell with their opinions. I can assure you, many who act that way are easily humbled in the presence of true artists.
Comment by Bill Ludeman on March 21, 2010 at 1:44am
I appreciate the feedback Keni Lee, I have wondered about this subject for a very long time. I am most comfortable playing for myself by myself. My daughter, bless her heart, either likes what I play or tolerates it. She encourages me too. I have learned that this is important and pleasing to me and I think thats why its working. I drove a car load of teenagers round trip a hundred miles today and they poked fun at everything all day long. They compared and commented on how wierd or strange or ugly or what ever on just everything. I started listening to see if they also commented on what they liked and they did once in a while. These are extremely nice polite kids and they were having a blast. I wonder if part of what I am reacting to is just that folks are seeing CBG's as different or wierd and handing that energy out sort of harmlessly ?? Could be. I know that the blues guys I have been around both generated a crowd spontaneously and repeatedly. With some more practice I hope to be able to do the same. I appreciate your insight. Thanks Bill
Comment by Keni Lee Burgess on March 20, 2010 at 7:22am
Thank you for sharing. It is quite common to get caught up in materialism. CBGs relatively have very little cash worth, but intrinsically they are priceless. Especially if you build it yourself. I have found that ease of playing and a good tone has nothing to do with the price of an instrument. I have played expensive guitars that sounded like shit and cheap guitars that had sustain and tone for miles. How can you put a price on the sound alone?
If you really study guitar you learn a lot about yourself. You not only improve as a musician, but as a person too. It really doesn't matter what guitars you own or even how well you play, what is truely important is how you interact with other people. If you see them as yourself, you relate to them in a totally different way, than if you think of them as another. I know it is not easy to grasp at first, but if more people realized the sound that comes from their guitar is as much them as the sound they hear from someone else's guitar, we would all be a little less self centered and a little more caring toward each other. Life is one big learning curve. Lord knows I had to learn and stop my evil ways. Learning to be patient with other people' s shortcomings is part of that deal too. Enjoy.

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