"Nobody builds their first cigar box guitar to play nice things" - Shane's thoughts...

There's probably going to be a shakeup in the cigar box guitar community soon. I'm starting to see signs of it already.  

After pushing this stuff for more than 2 decades, with huge thanks to Cigar Box Nation, C. B. Gitty and so many people, the humble cigar box guitar has experienced a Renaissance like it has never seen before.  All over the world, people are making and playing their homemade creations in hopes of finding that elusive, deep and soulful music.  And there's more tools than ever helping them along the way.

"So what's the problem, Shane?" you ask.  Well, I'm starting to see cigar box guitar builders try to create modern marvels... cigar box versions of Strats and Les Paul guitars.  They want to make them better and better, in order to compete with actual conventional guitars.

I've also seen college educated guitar teachers don the hats of a cigar box guitarists and pretend to be part of this steamrolling movement in order to profit from it.  But they don't get it.  (This is why my free video lessons are all simple "tricks & cheats.")  

We, the soulful searchers in life are looking for something deep, not precise.  We didn't build our first cigar box guitars to play nice things.  We wanted to play primal, gritty, salt-of-the-earth music.

And this is where the shakeup will happen.  Just watch.

I think there's going to be a contingency of cigar box people who are buck the trend and get back to the gritty stuff.  The more homemade, the better.  It's my hopes that they remember that this entire movement was built on the mantra of "NO RULES."  We all have room in this boat.  May the hobo dance with the upscale guitar maker.

Stay primal...but love your neighbor, too.


The Shane Speal "Bone Digger" ceramic stubby slide.  Our first handcrafted ceramic stubby slide, created in collaboration between Shane Speal and the Rocky Mountain Slide Co. THE BONE DIGGER FINISH: These slides are fired from three different natural clays (white, red and brown), creating an artistic, graveyard bone finish.  More info at www.StubbySlide.com





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Comment by John Sawyer on September 22, 2017 at 4:30pm

Though I agree, the humble CBG has its roots in "gritty, salt of the earth" music, I don't have an issue with those that try to converge on the Commercial precision made guitar... there are many paths to music... personally, I am shocked that the blues box is the only CBG like instrument at Guitar Center. It seems that counter culture becomes mainstream too quickly...

Me? I am a solid beginner, and I enjoy my fretted CBGs, but somehow go back to an early slide guitar... perhaps it is that dirty, unclean, lying in a ditch sound I like... or that the instrument is so forgiving...

You make me think about who buys my guitars... as I look back, most of my fretted instruments go to experienced guitarists... those that already know how to play... slide guitars (mainly diy kits) are generally bought by those that want to play, never took lessons, and want a simple path to make music...

some of my fellow builders here continue to make works of art... and I applaud them for it! Me? Most of mine are pretty basic, sound good, play easy... ultimately, I will continue to move a lot of basic DIY slide kits that my customers seem to love, and I will continue to make fretted instruments as a way to get the experienced guitarist to examine a simpler side of their craft.

Thanks for keeping the tradition alive!
Comment by Shawn McConnaughay Sr on September 19, 2017 at 11:43pm
I got into this hobby with little wood working experience, a few hand tools and direction from you tube. As a result I now play the instruments I built at a price a child can afford and guitar stores have lost a lot of my business. The store bought CBG's don't hold any water to the ones I build at home.
Comment by Jeff on September 19, 2017 at 8:26pm
The thing that drew me in to cigar box guitars is the gritty back porch sound. Fancy expensive versions of the real thing just aren't for me.
Comment by Kalmario on September 10, 2017 at 9:41pm

I think the real issue is if someone is put off, having a go, with the quality of the photos coming through at the moment. It would suck if someone didn't try, as there is something truly magical about playing something you've made. last time this happened was the players revolt wasn't it?

Comment by Darrel Campbell on September 8, 2017 at 6:00pm
Comment by Jim_N on September 6, 2017 at 7:31pm

Comment by Jim Morris on September 3, 2017 at 4:31pm

Here's the pretty one I'm working on. 

Comment by Jim Morris on September 3, 2017 at 8:43am

I'm with Shane on this - but, even while shaking my head yes I'm in the middle of attaching a nice Tele style 6 string factory neck to a very pretty cigar box and plan to put some standard pickups and controls on it simply because I have friends who are slow to warm up to some of my crusty creations. Some of them are fine 6 string players and I want to get them involved whenever they come around. So yeah, I think there's a place for many kinds of builds. But for my own tastes a beat up looking piece of crap is my cup of tea.

Comment by Jeff 'Bones' Reilly on September 2, 2017 at 3:29pm
I'm keeping mine basic I keep think what Hobo had a band saw or a router or any other fancy tools must my 2 cents .
Comment by Shane Speal shanespeal.com on September 2, 2017 at 12:00pm

Darryl, yep, room for everyone!  May the hobo dance with the upscale guitar maker.

...but may we always keep the history and old traditions alive, too

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