In early America starting sometime in the 1860's, poor people of all walks of life began to make homemade guitars and other stringed instruments out of old wooden boxes and scavenged or found wood from places such as barns or old homes.
These homemade instruments were popular through out much of the history of early America. Many of the pioneers of Blues and Rock n' Roll music got their start in music by playing these long forgotten guitars.
In the South, it's common to hear stories about those Old School Bluesmen such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Scrapper Blackwell, Little Freddie King and many others who got their start in music by building their own homemade guitar.
If you wanted to play guitar and didn't have any money - you'd have to build a guitar yourself.
Sometime between the 1850's and the 1870's, the Railroad was formed in the United States. It used wooden boxes in many shapes and sizes for railway shipping, empty tool boxes, food crates, cigar boxes, just about anything that needed shipping was put into a wooden box.
It didn't take long for people to notice that you could build an instrument from one of these leftover empty boxes. This form of guitar building was really just old fashioned ingenuity at work.
Just an old used wooden box, a stick made into a guitar neck, and simple down home music is the true history of the Blues.
1920's Watercolor - Bluesman from Saint Louis
From the Mississippi Delta to the Appalachian mountains, poverty did not stop people from wanting to create music. In fact, it made the desire even stronger.
Many people just went out and built their own instruments from stuff they found in their house, shed or barn.
Homemade guitars are part of the past, but still part of the present.
Many times people have emailed me and said that just by hearing one of these guitars or seeing a photo online has helped them find a new direction in life. Many of these people were coping with serious illness, trauma or some type of sadness. I have seen time and time again all kinds of people, from military veterans to lost teenagers, male and female all find a new path in life and even break out of the bondage of sadness.
Blues music is simple by its nature to learn. Anyone can learn to play these guitars. If playing a standard guitar has given you problems in the past, you'll enjoy the freedom and simplicity of playing a cigar box guitar.
With a little dedication, you'll sound like a champ in just a few months.
Speaking of the past, let's take a trip back in time.....
As for the history of the resonator guitar and how it ties in with the history of early Blues is that these guitars were invented and played in the 1920's and 30's before electric guitars were in use. The strings sit on a bridge that pushes down on cone inside the body of the guitar and it vibrates the center of the cone when you strum the guitar.
Instant amplification, No electricity needed.
They have a distinct bell like metallic sound. If you're someone trying to replicate vintage 1920's and 30's music, a resonator guitar will take you back in time. They are awesome little time machines.
Since the 1990's and the invention of online forums and auction sites, these old homemade guitars have been turning up for sale all across the country. The more people search attics and barns the more history of the instruments is uncovered.
It's exciting to see new stuff when it shows up for sale online. Ebay is king for finding old instruments.
This is where the "Blues" all started.
An old used cigar box, reclaimed wood made into a guitar neck, and homemade music.
This painting is of "L. Rupert" 1898 at the G.D. Flynn Brewery New River Falls, MA
Let me capture that photo in sound for you : ) check out this video
Many Blues and Rock musicians today still enjoy playing these homemade guitars for a more vintage and authentic sound that they create in their music.
Listen to this video below. It is a recording of Ry Cooder's song called "Billy The Kid."
It is preformed by Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top. He is playing a guitar built by Kurt Schoen.
This song is an excerpt from a Mark Maron interview from Youtube of a previously recorded 2015 Podcast. All Copyrights for this material are the property of their respective owners. Click Play below
If only this picture could talk...I think I know what it might sounds like?
Wasn't that Blind Boy Fullton in crossroads that said Muddy Waters invented electricity???
I think he was right! For sure there's Nothing that cuts to the bone like gritty electric slide guitar.
I recorded myself with a 1988 Fostex Tape deck - I haven't got rid of my cassette tapes just yet!
Let's take a trip out west with Dave Lynas. He was a pioneer from the goold ol' days, I guess you could say like Johnny Appleseed....well, kind of....
The only thing is, Dave drove a 1955 Chevy truck and went from town to town looking for treasure from the wild west.
He seems to only come home with rusty junkyard parts.
The history of homemade instruments is everywhere. In most people's family history, there's usually someone in their past who had a passion for music, yet didn't have any money for a proper instrument.
They just did what everyone else did a 100 years ago, they made their own.
We ship guitars Worldwide. If you've got a house I will get it there by Airmail ; )
We also make swamp deliveries ...in person!
The Homemade Electric Cigar Box Guitar - Just plug in and play, No knobs...No frills...Just Fun!
A lot of the time when I build guitars, I just strait wire the electric pickup right to the output. You can adjust your volume and tone on the amp.
I'm guess I'm just trying to declutter my life and the way I see the world.
I want to paint my reality with broad brushes strokes instead of fine tip pens.... Does that make any sense?
What's old is new again - it's like we've went Back to the Future
Like beans for breakfast...
Homemade resonator guitars have that "tin can" sound
Remember teen life before cellphones?
Here's a short reminder of those times, popular mechanics, V-8's and homemade do-it-yourself crafts.
This guy here! He's the one who sold me those bootleg cassette tapes I was telling you about
These simple guitars are built with just a few basic hand tools that most people already have.
You mostly use screwdrivers and glue along with some basic hardware store odds and ends and a pocket knife. You don't need many tools at all to build a homemade guitar.
The body is just an old used wooden box and that part is already done for you, once you start, you're already half way done!
That's what is so fun and interesting about this type of guitar construction, these guitars are simple by nature. They can be built using old or used guitar parts, or you get creative and make your own parts with stuff from around your house.
If you have read this far, you're now down in the fine print, we're at the bottom of the page. You should try playing one, you'll have a blast. There's a lot of history that you'll hear and relive every time you play a cigar box guitar.
Well, I'm officially at the bottom of this page. I do sell fully built guitars and other box guitar blues stuff as well, it's all on the next page.
The current guitars that are for sale are listed at the bottom of the next page.