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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I hear you Ron,

I build furniture for me and my friends but I have several friends who do the "Pro" furniture building gig for a living and I know what they go through. Friends and family have told me I should do the 'pro' furniture thing myself for a living but I know guys who do it and I said "No Way". That's not as easy a life as it sounds. You got to work long hours to make the bucks. The guys I know who do it successfully put in, on average, 70 hours a week. I would rather work 40 for the MAN somewhere and just build furniture or CBGs or whatever on the side.


Like others have said, it's the joy of building what you want, when you want and digging how it sounds when you're finished. If you can sell them, great, but that's the fun. Making a job out of it....well, some folks might like that, but it's more fun to make CBGs as a hobby I think.

Why am I just beginning to build CBGs?

No friggen' clue. I have the guitar-playing skills of an armless man coupled with the spastic woodworking skills of a rabid racoon in the terminal stage..also, my most advanced tools are a pocketknife and a Dremel. My glorious(HA!) achievements so far are:

A fiddle which collapsed(my own fault for adding a second string to a one-string design)
A 4-string Ukelele with too little space between the strings and not enough angle to the head(not a total loss, i'll restring as a 3-string guitar and rework the head)
A Romeo and Juliet Double box Mandolin-style 3-string...wood bottom and bord sides and top-i've lost my worst boxes if I fail, and if it works i'll reface with 3/16" Red Cedar craft panel for better sound.

Not a great resume so far-what's worse, my swollen, noisy fingers will make guitar lessons a joke for why am I doing it? that's why-the assorted lunatcs over there bit me with the DIY bug-and several of them visited Cigar Box Nation and came back with CBG's and Ukes in tow...

Eventually i'd like to try my hand at a large box (or multibox) two string Folk Cello whe i've gotten enough experience...I can't play that either but at least there's no arthritis in my wrists yet. Any playable units of any type I make in the meanwhile are going to be gifts for friends, with one going to every music store that gave a complete amateur loads of free advice-and one to every Cigar Store that volunteered my first dozen free boxes, in the hopes of fostering my own local competition and helping the tobacconists get rid of more boxes...

Er, see you later, my hands are beginning to itch for some wood glue and sawdust... :D

I built my first one for many reasons but all of the reasons lead to the same answer - I had to devolve so I could evolve.

The truth is that only a year before my first build I would have turned my nose up at the thought of building something so primitive but realized that primitive was exactly what I needed at the time. I've built solid body electrics for a number of years, some for money and some for fun but I just grew tired and uninspired of the same old cherry sunburst, perfectly book matched maple, chrome plated, ivory bound, factory made, waaaaaaaaaaayyyyy over priced fiddle sticks that everyone else built. Even the reliced thing got boring after a short while. So I went to the shop one day and said I'm gonna completely abandon my old ways and make something that nobody else has because I really need to.


I'd have to say that the whole process taught me a great deal about myself. I went forward on every step. If I screwed up, well then that was the way it would have to be because that was the way it was meant to be. I joined Cigar Box Nation less than a year ago and literally every time I go to this site I see something new, something real with tons of heart, lots of imagination and more evidence that building a musical instrument has much more to do with your intension than your ability.


"The truth is that only a year before my first build I would have turned my nose up at the thought of building something so primitive..."

That's an interesting revelation Dave. I have heard similar things before from a friend Dave in my hometown. He's a guitar player and collector. Initially he too turned his nose up at the CBG thing. I think his comment was something like "Oh, I guess Gibson will be going out of business soon then." [or something to that effect]. He's since listened to many youtubes I've sent him that shows the sound quality that can be achieved with a CBG and he's looked into the forums and galleries more and his recent comment was "Wow. I had no idea this cigar box thing was so huge." You just wait. Within a year or so he's going to start hinting for me to build him one.

I like your thoughts about not just copying other guitars and just letting the thing design itself as you go. I am interested in turning cigar boxes into other instruments too. My avatar is a small version of this photo. It's an African Sanza I built from a beautiful CAO cameroon box. I want to try and build some more of those.


Two reasons why I started building was showing some students an inexpensive way to create music and an instrument(s) for an improv ensemble that I play in.  I wanted to compose some music similiar to Harry Partch but on the cheap and with more strings than he had.


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