Posted by: Glenelg Guitar Studio | September 29, 2014

Cigar Box guitar band!

An ex-student contacted me recently to let me know that he had indeed made his career in music and was playing in a professional band.

Hi Leigh,
It’s been a while since I spoke to you! How have you been?
Just thought you might be interested – my band has just released our first official video clip for our new single… recorded and performed on a little cigar box guitar!

We’ll be headlining the Friday night at Blues In The Barossa too if you were thinking of going?
I also wanted to say thanks again for all of your amazing support and help teaching me guitar through high school all those years ago… without it I probably wouldn’t be where I am today playing in a professional working band!

Hope you’ve been well mate.
All the best,
Luke Marsh.

It’s really great to hear from ex-students who have enjoyed their time learning the guitar and especially gratifying when they also make a career in music. Luke is the guitarist in the video playing the Cigar Box guitar and sporting the cool long locks. He came to me as a young guy with the college boy look; short hair and uniform and fortunately I was not only able to teach him on guitar but also influence his appreciation of the “long hair” look!

Luke’s’ video is at the bottom of the page along with another famous Cigar Box guitarist…. and before you ask….no I don’t have one in my collection.


For those who want to know what a Cigar Box Guitar is;
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone that uses an empty cigar box for a resonator. The earliest had one or two strings; the modern model typically uses three or more. Generally speaking, strings are connected between the end of a broomstick or 1″ x 3″ wood slat and to the resonator, the cigar box.

 A collection of cigar box guitars

Cigars were packed in boxes, crates, and barrels as early as 1800, but the small sized boxes that we are familiar with today did not exist prior to around 1840. Until then, cigars were shipped in larger crates containing 100 or more per case. After 1840, cigar manufacturers started using smaller, more portable boxes with 20-50 cigars per box.

Trace evidence of cigar box instruments exist from 1840 to the 1860’s. The earliest illustrated proof of a cigar box instrument known is an etching copyrighted in 1876 of two American Civil War Soldiers at a campsite with one playing a cigar box fiddle. The etching was created by illustrator and artist Edwin Forbes who, under the banner of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, worked for the Union Army. The etching was included in Forbes work Life Stories of the Great Army. In the etching, the cigar box fiddle clearly shows the brand ‘Figaro’ on the cigar box.

The cigar box guitars and fiddles were also important in the rise of jug bands and blues. As most of these performers were black Americans living in poverty, many could not afford a “real” instrument. Using these, along with the washtub bass (similar to the cigar box guitar), jugs, washboards, and harmonica, black musicians performed blues during socializations.

Modern revival is sometimes due to interest in jugband and the DIY culture, as a cigar box is relatively inexpensive when considering other factors, such as strings and construction time. Many modern cigar box guitar can thus be seen as a type of practice in lutherie, and implement numerous personal touches, such as the addition of pick up and resonator cones into it.

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