There is nothing technical about this discussion/question at all. This is meant as kind of survey on the emotional side of the CBG obsession.

I am a woodworker, a furniture builder, a boat builder and an artist. I've played numerous instruments in my 49 years, some better than others. I NEVER showed ANY aptitude at stringed instruments but in the last year I have made about a dozen CBGs and intend to make more. I wonder what it is that compels me & other people on this forum to do the same. Dozens of my musician friends, serious guitar players, going back 35+ years to childhood have reviewed my efforts, they know that I am 'stringed instrument challenged' and have wondered about this new obsession of mine. The best answer I can give them is that I'm in search of making an instrument that I can produce one particular sound that I am haunted by. The best example of that sound would be this:


I guess that sums it up for me. What's your excuse?


Oh and if you never watched the rest of the movie 'Crossroads' with its lame plot but incredibly good soundtrack that the above song is part of I can save you 2 hours of looking at the Karate Kid play air guitar and 'cut to the chase' part that people talk about in that film. Here's the final headcutting segment if you're bored this evening but would like to listen to some of Steve Vai's very talented playing:


Again, why are YOU spending your free time building cigar box guitars? I'd like to hear what your motivation is.



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This  is a great discussion!  I grew up "playing" bass in a punk rock "band" and never listened to any music but punk rock.  One day i was listening to the Monsters in the Morning radio show out of central florida and one of the cast members (Daniel Dennis) talked about a cbg that a friend had built for him.  I had to check this thing out, so I watched the vid on their website.  I loved the instrument (which was built by a Nation member) and I loved the sound. 

The first one I built was for my best friend as a gift, and it was built over 2 hour gaps when my son would take his nap on saturdays and sundays.  As soon as it was done and I heard my friend play it, I had to build another one.  I built a matching set,  one for my dad (a great self taught guitarist) and one for myself.  I'm on my fourth build, and I barely have time to think but I somehow make time to work on it. 


This community has been instrumental (pun intended) to discovering something that is a great source of enjoyment for me, and now my friends and family!


This has been fun and I've enjoyed the responses from everyone, indeed, I'm surprised that my question got so many responses as I posted it just on a 'lark'.

I've seen at least two comments here from builders who used to play or embrace the punk rock ethos. Initially I thought that weird, [I guess because I was trying to envision the Sex Pistols, or the Dead Kennedys or the Ramones performing at CBGBs...on a CBG], but given the punk rock ethos or vibe it makes a lot of sense to me. The CBG thing is very much a departure from the accepted norm just as Punk Rock was. Meaning, traditionally; you want to play guitar in a band, you go buy a guitar at a store...learn how to play it in the accepted fashion, via years of lessons, building your chops, etc., getting accepted, working your way up... Punk was the antithesis to that. Just get a guitar, plug it in to loud amp, crank the gain and let your emotions rip. Damn the music theory, full speed ahead.

I expected to get mostly responses from people who said they remembered hearing ancient, scratchy blues recordings from the Blues Greats and who read that they had started out on CBGs/Diddley Bows and wanted to follow that path and I'm sure that is the case for some folks who got into building CBGs but these other comments have been intriguing.

Thanks for views, I look forward to other folks comments on their interest in this hobby.

I posted some Youtubes on Crossroads

Here's another fun one folks may enjoy from another guy from back in my Maryland/DC past. This song is immediately recognizable to most folks, Bill helped make it so but this is his fun, and very talented take on that old song. I think folks will enjoy his 'nods' to the guitar greats.

Well for me I think it the ability to create something that brings such pleasure to others and myself. I am a Chef by trade and I got into that because it catered to my artistic side , being able to take a few ingredients and turn them into something that is simply delicious. When I was younger I did dable in wood working a bit and found it enjoyable but after building something it just sat there. I don't know any one who doesn't enjoy music in one form or another. So to be able to create with my two hands and the simplest of tools an instrument that sounds like these instruments do is a real thrill to me. It has also reawaken the desire to play as well. To me it is some sort of therapy for the mind body and soul.

no idea, i can't even put up a shelf indoors,but this has got me...i spent 2 years in a joinery shop aged 15 -17 years old, the next 3 years engineering shop, 4 years on a farm  and the rest of my life a heating engineer ( i'm 62)  you tell me. always loved blues, always facinated by guitars, saw a post on youtube(roosterman 3 string ) in january 2011, snowed in for 3 weeks- i can make one of those i am ready thinking about  #3   happy building...john

by the way there's lots of people building who don't play too well ,i 'm rubbish but it's great when players come round and give you the thumbs up, keep it up they say ...

great discussion idea...well i was in to hip hop and rapping to all sorts of "urban" styles of music since i was 17.did that for around 9 years but got bored with the much attitude.or at least it was with some of the people that i worked with.also im older now and feel i want to create music and not just rhyme over a about a year or so ago i convinced my missus to let me get a off i go and get myself a 6 string acoustic tanglewood starter guitar.has a really good sound.if you want a cheap acoustic id say its a very good choice for 60 quid...anyway...i start playing and making the tips of my fingers go numb and hard.great for playing gits not so great for typing or picking your here i am happily trying to play songs from internet lessons on youtube and not doing to bad.and to cut a long story short i become addicted to things with night while flicking through the telly i flick past jules holland and Seasick Steves just being introduced...i decide to have a little house jaw hits the floor...who is this old hobo dude making my ears orgasm???...i finish watching and drink some more beer and pass out...i forgot about it all...then one day i decide to have a couple beers and sit on some cool stuuf..then...pow.something hits me...what was it i saw...SSS...i typed it in and away i the side vids i saw HOLLOWBELLYs "shotgun"...i clicked...again my jaw dropped...i heard it and thought "holy %#$*,hes doing that with some odd looking guitar?.what is it?" i then found out it was a cigarbox guitar...after a few convos with the man himself i ended up here...a fully fledged obsessive about i dream about them...i speak about them...i defend them against people who do not know better and re educate them...i (attempt to) build them...and i (again play them...but most of all,and this is the truth...i friggin love them....its opened a whole new world of music to me and for that im eternally grateful.
Idle hands do the devils work...

"Idle hands do the devils work..."


That may just be the best excuse so far.

I started playing in my youth but gave it up to chase girls and other things. Life went by at age 30 something moved to chicago and found i needed a new hobby so bought a epi 2 special and found the guitar needed work right out of the box so i found a school here that teaches guitar matinanes and guitar building. After working on the epi I found I needed to build my own guitar so I started out building a guitar from the blocks of wood up at the guitar school. After it was done I thought I need to build more but living in a condo in downtown chitown it was as they say not the best setup. Then I found the nation and the rest is well you all know I can't stop. I love that first stum of the strings is magical to take a box and stick and make music it just don't get any better.

I've always wanted to play guitar, but my fingers seemed too fat and I could do more than one or two chords without accidentally muting extra strings. When I ran across the idea of Cigar Box Guitars I was immediately obsessed by the idea that I could make a guitar where the strings were spaced wide enough for my fingers.


And 13 or 14 guitars later I think I almost have that perfect spacing for me figured out. Now I just need to learn how to play. :)

As others mentioned, the rules don't exist and the sky is the limit and any weird s--t you can dream up is fair game for a CBG. Your hands are kind of small? Your fingers are a little bit larger than other folks? You like the string height kind of high, kind of low?....make it custom Baby!!!

I have a buddy back in Maryland who has a basement room with about two dozen BEAUTIFUL, classic guitars, and he plays them all, quite well. Mostly Gibsons but some other brands snuck in there too.

Initially he 'Poo-poo'd the CBG thing I was doing as novelty but instruments that really wouldn't be worth a serious guitar player's time. He has since taken some interest and is quite intrigued by them. He asked me if I thought of building a double neck. Told him others have been there and done that already in any variation one could dream of. Here's an example of that.

A solid body, double neck guitar, made with hand wound pickups from another CBG guy. I mean how cool is that? And how un-commercial is that?

A CBG is anything you want to try and if you can't make it work, take the expensive bits back off and throw it in the woodstove and keep your family warm on a cool evening and try something different.

WOW, what a thread, yes I could not play anything or carry a tune not even able to hum to save my life, that would even rule out Kazoos.

I was looking at Hank drums on youtube to build one for my kids and on the list to the right was Keni Lee playing a CBG. I could not believe what I was seeing, it was deep calling to deep.

 I had to make one, why not cost diddly so to speak. When I fist heard the sound of the one I made it had me hooked. So  then a pair for my kids and few for friends......

 I am a ex furniture maker and have a full shop to make whatever I want to, so I have been loving making them. When I was a furniture maker I use to think someday I will just make nice things for myself and whoever else I choose, being a pro is a grueling schedule to make ends meet.

 I ordered a few how to play disk from Keni Lee and really like plunking away at it. I figured if I was making them how would I know if they are playable if I can not play.  I feel this is a significant thing in my life to be able to say I know something, as in anything about guitars and that I would even attempt to try and play one. I really still can not play much but spend 15 min to 30 min a day trying, just having that slide on my pinkie and thinking about the blues is my happy place. I have to say if their is something I am so untallented at it would be playing music, but I still enjoy my level of .

incompetence, which is the oposite of my ability to build them.

 I have to thank Keni Lee and all of you at Cigar Box Nation for helping me along with my somewhat secret passion.

                                                           Cheers Ron.

I have always been creative but it was always hard to find a hobby I liked and wanted to continue with.  There are only so many tables or shelves you can build before you get bored.  I have always been into music and sang in a few bands but I've never been much of a guitar player but I do my best.  Then the guitar player in my band showed me a CBG and I have been hooked. 


There is something about the no rules and do what you want with it that I just love.  No one can tell me it is wrong and no one can stop me....kinda like that.  I think making something out of things around the shop or house that sound like these do is magical.  There is nothing like it.....I will do these for the rest of my life.  If I make a few dollars along the way that would be great, but I will probably end up giving many away to close friends and family.  I will never give a lame gift away at christmas again.


CBGs Forever!  Keep smoking ya'll!


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