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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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!

This is my "Old Time" build from this past September. The neck is one piece of sawmill walnut grown right here on the farm.  It is notched for the peghead and dowel,  Home made hickory pegs,  Cherry tailpiece and bridge.  Bridge-cap and nut are bone. My grandad used to leave dead livestock in a spot in the woods from the 50s to the 80s well away from the farmhouse.  I built my house near the spot.  My dog occasionally finds a bone and I take some for builds.  This is probably cow, but could be horse or mule.  Strings are fishing line.  Brass fret wire.  0 fret is recycled from another instrument, but not the rest.  Cuesta Rey box.  I'm not sure how old but older. I wiped it with walnut stain paper and all to match it to the neck. Short scale tuned GDGA.

My Grandma lived near Aurora Springs, a small village that had seen it's Glory Days disappear with the once popular mineral spring clientele. But the old park that contained the mineral spring still survived intact with its concrete picnic tables, concrete spring fed horse trough and the old walls on each side of the creek where they used to drop a wooden gate down to flood the area for kids to swim in when they had picnics there. Grandma told me stories about an old Gypsy man who would come through the area and stay at the park. He cut willows from the creek and made willow furniture and would carve tramp art boxes to sell.  Grandma had a couple of the willow chairs on her porch that we sat in.  When my dad was boy, he wanted a guitar so badly, but Grandma couldn't afford a store bought one, so she asked the old Gypsy man if he could make one.  This old guitar is one of my Dad's most favorite Christmas presents ever.

My Grampa was an avid fisherman.  He was a house painter by trade, but also made doughbait and catfish bait and sold worms at his house about 10 miles north of Bagnell Dam on the Osage River.  He even rented out wooden rowboats on the river for a while. Him and Grandma never had much money, but he was pretty handy.  I could see him building something like this as a present for my dad when he was a kid.

Although I am an admirer of the folks on this page that can do the antiqued look well, I've never been good at it. But I do enjoy making  and giving instruments as Christmas gifts .

Here is another one of my holiday banjoleles. It is very basic and almost completely built from scrap wood and a cookie tin. I did buy the tuners, strings and frets.

This is "Hank," named after the great Hank Williams who was also known as the Hillbilly Shakespeare. I've always wanted to build a homemade guitar since the 1970's when I read the Foxfire Books. It was written about  good mountain folks who made there own log cabins, moonshine stills, guitars, banjos and Dulcimers. I used a very old worn-out vintage cigar box, that I brought back to life.  Built up the inside to make it very strong and added two reverb type springs.   I used a vintage yard stick as the fretless, fretboard. The sound hole was on purposely off centered and oval shaped to fit the graphics of the two unicorns holding an oval shaped crown. This is my old time build made in September 2021.

This guitar was inspired by my Air Force career and the rich Air Force history in area where I was stationed at,  Eglin AFB Fl. Eglin AFB built in 1935 and first was known as Valparaiso Bombing range and has a rich history and very instrumental in turning the tide of WWII.

Here is my contribution to the competition. A 100-year-old tin fiddle.

Well, it's made out of 100-year-old parts anyway. A tin that old, according to the web, and an old wrecked violin, a copy of a Joseph Guarnerius, Cremona Anno 17.

I can just imagine some worker playing this after a day in the fields.

It's a bit uncomfortable under the chin but plays and sounds like a violin...a student model not a Guararnius.

I had to extend the neck and tailpiece positioning to get close to violin specs. the top is braced but has no soundpost.
Cheers Taff


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