As I was compiling the Cigar Box Nation newsletter this week, I noticed that the gas can banjo above by OneSixTwoCBGs was the top photo of the week. It's a beauty and sports the traditional 5 string banjo neck.
Then I discovered Marvin Walker's cigar box banjo video (another top pick of the week)...and I asked myself, Where are all the cigar box banjos in this movement?
Some history: The earliest set of cigar box instrument plans were by Daniel Carter Beard, the founder of The Boy Scouts. These plans were part of a magazine article, "Christmas with Uncle Enos" and were first published in the 1880's.
These plans were for a traditional fretless 5-string banjo based on an instrument built by Beard's family slave, Uncle Enos.
There are many examples of turn-of-the-Century cigar box banjos collected in the book, Musical Instruments of the Southern Appalachian Mountains as well. History is spotted with these instruments. So why aren't they more prominant?
Today's Cigar Box Guitar Movement and beyond: The modern cigar box guitar movement started with predominantly blues-oriented performers and fans. This lead to a proliferation of slide-style cigar box guitars and a definite blues-leaning sound. It's understandable why there weren't many five string banjo necks attached to the cigar box instruments coming out in the first ten years.
I get it.
However, we are starting to see the bluegrass and old time music guys catching on to the almighty cigar box. Acts such as Spence's Rye are using traditional banjo clawhammer techniques in their playing.
It's only time until we see a wider audience with cigar box guitars in the banjo crowd.
So...who out there is making and playing five-string cigar box banjos???