Acoustic Blues Guitar - Cigar Box Guitars
Cigar Box Guitars Came Before Stella Guitars
introduction of cheap Stella Harmony guitars at the turn of the 20the century
gave a huge boost to the aspirations of many poor black guitar players
throughout the states, particularly in the rural areas, where people couldn't
afford to travel to get to a store.
Even if they could, money for guitar buying was a little scarce to say the least. Sears provided a means of ordering at a distance, and so represented a big step for the development of blues music.
before that acoustic guitars were few and far between. Many of the blues men
started to play as kids and bought instruments were just not an option - they
simply made guitars and fiddles out of whatever they had around the house or
There was always a length of wood around, and various options for fabricating a sound box, but it wasn't until around 1890 that a commercial change in the sale of cigars provided a spin off that was to exist even up to the present time - the cigar box!
The Cigar Box Guitar Was born
time cigars were shipped in barrels of cases in large quantities, but the
sellers then changed to smaller quantities shipped in square (or squarish)
boxes that were quite robust and durable They were a lot smaller than the sound
box of a standard parlor guitar, but resonated quite well.
If a kid could find a box such as this, and the other components, he was on the way to the blues, or perhaps country or bluegrass, whatever his preference. So what was needed? A length of broom handle or flat section could be fastened to the back of the box, or through it, which enhances the strength. Cut a round hole, add strings and a means of adding tension, and you have a rudimentary guitar!
instruments could be plucked, strummed or played with a home made bow, like a
fiddle and the quality of the sound varied enormously, depending on the care
taken and the materials used.
They were probably difficult to keep in tune and
needed adjusting after every song, but they became popular and whole bands
appeared using home made guitars and violins.
How Do You Play A Home Made Cigar Box Guitar?
techniques and style were a little different for these guitars, as it was rare
to find one with the normal six strings, due to the tension that these
instruments could stand. This restricted limited the number of strings to four
maximum, but is wasn't unusual to find one, two and three stringed cigar box
Although you could make a tune with one or two strings, the sound became richer musically with more strings, as there were more variations harmonically available.
A Short History About Cigar Box Guitars
More than one guitar could be played, tuned differently in order to make the sound more complex and interesting. Open guitar tunings also lend themselves to playing with a bottleneck - three or four strings are also easier to keep in tune in humid conditions.