and then do this...


We want you to use your imagination & creativity to build a stringed instrument that could have been given as a gift 100 years ago.  Here's a few ideas (they are not required...only suggestions):

  • Use an antique cigar box to make the instrument look authentic
  • Build a historic instrument from our Free Plans Page
  • Use 100 year old stories from your area to influence your instrument
  • Be inspired by the instruments of the Cigar Box Guitar Museum (photos here)


Top three entries will win $125 gift certificates to

Five runners-up will receive $25 gift certificates to

Judges:  Ben "Gitty" Baker & Shane Speal

Here's the rules:

1.  Build your own stringed musical instrument inspired by the past.  If you lived 100 years ago and were short on money, what stringed instrument would you build as a Christmas/holiday gift?

2.  Post three (3) photos below.  Optional: You can add one (1) demo video, too.  Don't forget the instructions for posting pics.  This is an old website and it can be a little temperamental!

3. Add a one (1) paragraph description with your photo entry.  This is where you can influence the judges on why you think your entry is a Throwback Holiday type of instrument.

3.  Shake, stir, repeat.  (Yes, you can submit more than one entry!)

4.  Submissions that won previous Cigar Box Nation contests are ineligible.  

5. Contest runs Nov 12 - Dec 31, 2021.  Winners announced Jan 7, 2022 on the Gitty Gang Show broadcast.


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Great idea, sounds like a blast and I will share this on FB.


It was 1919 and my brother just returned form the Western Front.  He was now blind, the victim of a chlorine gas attack by the Germans.  Before he left I made a 3 string guitar for him to play when the boredom arose in the trenches.  When he came home, he brought it back.  It showed the wear and tear of playing, and being in a war zone.  But it was different-- it now had an electric pickup which I had never seen before.  My brother told me of the day he was attacked and how he drifted off and through the fog saw a man.  His name was Leo.  A quiet individual who picked up his guitar and said to him " I can make this better". He disappeared in the darkness and returned the following day.  He handed his 3 string back to him and said "Play it loud my friend"....

This is Francine, build #21. I built this one for Mr. Roberto Vasquez of Fontana, California as part of a "Back to Basics" themed CBG exchange organized among a bunch of builders. When I thought of "back to basics" I though repurposed/scavenged parts and a relic look. The box, as near as I can tell, is about 100 years old and if you look closely you can see the worm holes (actually made by beetles, not worms) that I filled with wax. The tuners are mismatched vintage machines from the local music store's trash. The jack plate is an inventory tag from Kelsey Hayes, a long gone Detroit wheel manufacturer. The sound hole is, I think, a screen from an industrial water faucet. The bridge is an extremely old ruler, the black accent paint crumbling off. The tail piece is an antique tin license plate topper that says "Play Safe, Be Careful", I flipped it over though because the red didn't match the color scheme... and besides... who really wants to play safe? lol

This is a very authentic Christmas gift. It may not have been given 100 years ago but it has been given within the last 100 years. This in one of a series of cookie tin Banjoleles that I have bilt over the years.

My Mom always told me “It’s what is on the inside that counts”.

Well, here is your proof. This has everything you will need to stay warm on a December night.

Always be prepared! 

Vintage Corina box

This is a diddley bow that definitely could have been a gift 100 years ago. The box is not a cigar box, it was made from an old piece of furniture that was at least 100 years old. All the wood in the box is solid pine. The neck is a hockey stick, I’m sure they would have made a good neck in 1921, too. Zither pin tuner, copper penny bridge, piezo pickup is the only thing you wouldn’t find on a 100 year old instrument. Sound great acoustic, just as good plugged in!


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