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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Christmas in Kentucky 1908. !908 has been a very difficult year for the family. This is the second year we have not raised a tobacco crop due to our joining the boycott to force the tobacco companies to pay a fair price.  As a result, we have little money to spare, as a result Christmas will be a very small affair and gifts just for the youngest children. I have tasked myself with making a small one stringed instrument for my youngest sister Zona. She has displayed an interest in music and we must encourage her. I have fashioned a small one string guitar from lumber from a discarded soap box. The neck was a left-over remnant from splitting tobacco sticks this fall. I made a tail piece from a hinge from an old sewing machine that had been damaged in a fire. I salvaged a tuner and string from an old banjo. I am pleased with the result and pray that she gets some enjoyment from it in the following years.

That looks the part for sure.   Handsome build.

Nice job.

I built The NRA Guitar using cast-off materials that down-and-out musicians might have scavenged when times were hard and they had no money for “luxuries” such as store-bought guitars. The box itself – a phenomenally lucky find at a local thrift shop – once contained cigars from a 20th Century tobacconist during America’s Great Depression. The National Recovery Administration’s sticker at one corner authenticates the age of the box and the cigar maker’s compliance with marketing guidelines set by the NRA, which was organized in 1933. The agency was disbanded in 1935, after which the stickers were no longer used. The neck is fashioned from two pieces of scrap lumber glued together, and the strap is from a well-worn ladies’ handbag, also acquired at a thrift shop. Other elements of the CBG include frets made of copper wire salvaged from a house-wiring project, a strap stud made from a grease fitting in a junkyard car, nuts and bolts from my own toolbox collection, and vintage nylon acoustic guitar strings. I carved the guitar’s tuners from scrap hardwood using simple hand tools, a splinter removal kit, and a tube of antibiotic salve. The NRA Guitar was an intense (and often painful) labor of love, and a tribute to the creativity of Depression era cigar box guitarists. I was absolutely delighted with how it turned out.

    In 1934, my dad and was 12 years old and living in a company house on Iowa mine property. Back in those days, coal mining was the second most common occupation in Iowa after farming. Two of dad's friends had cigar box guitars and my dad wanted one for Christmas. Hid dad, my grand dad, made it happen. He built it himself with scrounged wood and parts. It had and still has flaws, such as mis-matched f holes on the back.  But it plays and I play it to this very day.     

If you can only view one video (per contest rules) view the first.

To hear it play, view the second.

Antonio is 7 years old, son of a fisherman. All he's ever talking about is wanting to learn how to play a guitar. We are in Portugal, December 1921, times are hard and Antonio's parents are struggling to survive. Nevertheless, his uncle works at a furniture workshop and managed to smuggle out two little panels from a cabinet that they repaired. Antonio's father used whatever he could find to make his son a stringed instrument that he could practice on. 

The instrument as well as the case stayed in the family for many generations. Nevertheless, a century later it ended up at a car boot sale, where it was bought by a Dutchman living in Portugal.


WOW !  The video on this creation blows my mind !!!  a must see folks  . !!!

My first CBGs were true to traditional cigar box designs and methods. During the pandemic lockdowns, however, I began using my own digital artwork to decorate the box. I build the boxes from birch plywood and hand-carve the necks from red oak or hemlock. I use tuners, strings and pickups from CBGitty (naturally), and the hardware and straps are found or second-hand materials. This particular 3-string guitar is Infinity Plus 1, which is the actual title of the digital art on the box. In reality it’s a digitally enhanced photo of computer printed circuit boards that came from my scrap bin. The hemlock neck and fretwork (always the hardest part) were a labor of love, and they function beautifully. This guitar is playable acoustic or amp’ed, using a ghosted Mini Box Bucker Pickup. I like the juxtaposition of high-tech artistry with old fashioned woodworking, resulting in an ultimate piece of “functional art”. Thanks for viewing.


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