To start off, I would just like to say these things don't bother me. 


As a performer, you pretty much have to be thick skinned (as I'm sure many of you can attest to).

Usually, when people hear about cigar box guitars, they kinda write 'em off.  Then they see 'em, and become intrigued.  And when they hear 'em, they're hooked.


However, I just thought I'd share these stories of cigar box guitar discrimination for your enjoyment, and maybe you can share some stories of your own for our collective amusement.


That said, I've three stories to share.


1) Just last Friday, I was playing a gig in a local bar.  I brought my 3 string electric CBG, my Lowebow Purgatory Hill Harp, my 1964 Stella acoustic which I put a humbucker in, and my Aria LP.  I typically start off my shows by introducing myself, and state "I'm gonna play some tunes for ya."  Well, I began by playing the 3 string CBG, and one smart ass in the crowd yelled out "you shoulda brought a guitar with ya!"


I actually thought this one was kinda funny.


2) A few weeks ago, I was visiting Grand Junction, Colorado, where I went to college and used to live 5-6 years ago.  I had my Lowebow and went to the blues jam, but got there too late to sign up to play.  I was showing off the Hill Harp, and most people were pretty enthusiastic about it.  However, one guy wasn't.  One of his buddies remarked to him, "I bet you don't have one of these, eh Bob?!"  And Bob replied, "no, and I never will."


Part of me was kinda irked about that statement, especially since I didn't get to play... I'm pretty damned sure he would be singing a different tune had he heard the Lowebow in action.  But to automatically dismiss something based on it's looks?  I guess maybe I had more faith in musicians being open minded.


The other part of me was kinda glad I didn't get to play this blues jam, as it was full of... well, typical blues jam guitarists (the type who evidently think the blues started with Eric Clapton).  I really doubt any of 'em -- especially the drummers -- would have known what to do with some low down hill country blues.


3) Then, in telling this story to my friend Eric, he mentioned he was telling one of his friends (let's call him John) about me and my cigar box guitars.  John said something along of lines of: "now, when it comes to blues, [cigar box guitars is] where I draw the line."


This statement comes across to me as sheer ignorance.  Or maybe just a totally different style of blues.  Cuz, to me, cigar box guitars are about as bluesy as you can get.  They lend themselves to blues so well, and to automatically rule them out?  Stupid.  In my opinion, at least.


(all the names mentioned above have been changed to protect the innocent and the ignorant).


Now, how bout you, Nation?


Got any stories of prejudice or discrimination when it comes to CBGs?

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went into local music store to get some boxes to ship cbgs to soldiers. thought i'd take in a 4 string electric to show what i was building.  the owner says boy thats cute.   kinda ticked me off, but i recognized ignorance when it reared its head.  a month later i went for more boxes and there were 2 customers playing acoustics in the store.  i said to myself, if i don't ask, i'll never know.  hey felleas, you ever play a cigar box guitar?  i never travel without one in my van.  they followed me outside and i pulled out the 6 string with a dimarzio pickup, plugged into a cigar box amp and 1 fella started playing, tentative at first, then really fired up some blues and country.  the owner came out to see what was going on and after 20 minutes of an impromptu concert the player says  how much.  250.00 i said without blinking.  guy set down his wallet and pulle out 3-100 dollar bills and said i'll take the amp too.  took cash, gave him everything and loojked the owner in the eye and said---boy tghat was cute.  n uff said

Every time I go into a music shop to buy/look for something for my CBG the owners/employees give me a strange look (It's Germany, the land of 1000$+ guitars). The fun starts when they start to theorize ("beyond power chords", "you can really play only on an electric guitar", "the real music is made on quality instruments" etc.) .... I usually wait and listen (and ROFL internally). Never asked if they ever, by any chance heard Seasick Steve. Or Robert Johnson. Or Bob Brozman. Or KLB.


BTW: I found the "Clapton reference" not funny. He IS a good guitarist. He obviously didn't invent the blues.

Everybody knows Al Gore did.

I call it guitar snobbery. Usually if I hand one to a guitar player, they take it, try to play a few notes, shrug, and hand it back. They don't know what to do with it.


I think having less than 6 strings also throws them for a loop.

Went into a local guitar store looking for some thing to finish a build. The counter guy asks "what kind (brand) of guitar?". I said cigar box and he just looked thru me and walked off. 

I was going to just reply that I usually do not bring up the style of guitar I am building when I talk to guitar player. For the simple reason that there is no real way to tell what kind of person they might be. I have ran across to many players that have lead me to believe that most guitarists can be some of the most ego-centric and talk-over-ones head type of people out there.That said; I went into a retro high priced store that is new to the strip of store I walk by sometimes. Some of you may know the place, with all those cheap 60's and 70's gits that seem to now be worth 4x's the original price. Anyway I was looking around mainly because some of the guitars they had were very cool looking. And they had a cbg 6 string electric for sale. Asking 200 for it. Now, the box looked too small to be used for a 6 string, and the top was warped. I just wanted to pick the guys brain a little and asked who built it. Well he was there in the store, once I said that I also build cbg's he nodded his head and turned his back on me. Kind of irked me that he did not want to even chat a little. But I think it was more of snobbery against ME not the guitar. Oh well.

I have had a LOT of great reception to the concept of CBGs. I sell more than play/busk and when I am at a fair or so, I have never hear any discouraging words -- even from talented musicians. Mind you, they do give great criticism on setup and build but nothing that would cause my bristles to be raised. All the Hippies and rednecks in and around the Carolinas think these things are the shi... well. you get it.


When I play Purgatory Hill or Moreland & Arbuckle on the iPad, they really are impressed. I visit (pardon me) Guitar Center for strings etc, and the counter guys always want me to bring mine in.


Must be some sort of regional thing. I dunno. Dan's right: 'I think having less than 6 strings also throws them for a loop.' It does... until they get hold of one. I get a lot of questions on tuning and why 3/4 strings but to any serious musician, most all musical instruments have their own merit.



I went to a jam and had brought some three string pickups with me. They kind of looked at them and said, gee that's nice. And then someone said, why don't you wind a Strat or Tele pickup?

However, I haven't infiltrated this jam yet with one of my CBG's, so I wouldn't expect them to really know what I'm talking about or why I'm doing what I'm doing, until I bring one out and crank it up.

They don't really "get" North Mississippi style blues either. The one time I brought a one chord song out they pretty much killed it with boredom.


As far as the guy who was drawing the line on CBG's for blues - that's just hilarious and shows how ignorant he is. I just got done reading this month's Blues Revue obit section. Out of like 8 obits, it mentioned that one guy started on a "one string" and the other guy started on four strings nailed to his porch and played with a bottle. Nuff said.

@Wes - it could be "maturity" as well. One day you're just old enough to care more about the music and not the gear.

And now for something totally different (on a bit more positive note):

I have regular communication with an Open-G community, almost everybody there uses a 12-string guitar. It's 4 times more strings, but nobody laughts at me/my experiments. Anything goes - as long it brings you further. With only 3 strings you have to rethink a sh*tload of things about your playing and understanding of music. Actually (I hope it stays this way) my CBG experiment already improved a bit my bass playing (although I have to switch constantly between GDG, EADG, DGDGBD and ADGCEA tunings). I still suck, but a bit less... No strange look or "smart" remark can spoil me the fun.

I get great feedback when I'm showing off my CBG's. They reflect the frugal yankee mentality that's pretty pervasive up here in New Hampshire.


Play free or die!

I just finished my CBG#2 and took it around to a cigar shop and a couple of music shops that I have visited while in the building process. The response has been generally positive. In fact the things seems to attract a small crowd of people every time I take it somewhere which is funny, cause I can't play worth a damn. I mean, how entertaining can the first few bars of "wild thing" really be. This I why I always play a few seconds and then hand it off to whoever I am showing it too.


I also stopped into a music shop this afternoon and showed it to one of the guys who worked there. This kid can't be more than 16 years old, but when I handed it to him, he made it come alive with some awesome blues licks. He loved it and took it around the store and showed several other people. They all seemed impressed.


Thanks to threads like this, I will be ready when I run up against a guitar snob. They only mock what they don't understand.



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