“So I went ahead and made me a guitar. I got me a cigar box, I cut me a round hole in the middle of it, take me a little piece of plank, nailed it onto that cigar box, and I got me some screen wire and I made me a bridge back there and raised it up high enough that it would sound inside that little box, and got me a tune out of it. I kept my tune and I played from then on.”

-Lightnin’ Hopkins

Some say the cigar box guitar was born during the American Civil War, when bored - yet enterprising - soldiers would make their own instruments from materials commonly available.  These were, more often than not, tuned as banjos or fiddles and probably had no more than 4 strings.  These instruments became, and remain to this day, a fixture in the music lore of the South. The mystique of the cigar box guitar, more commonly referred to as the CBG, is most associated, however, with the Blues.  Legends such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Buddy Guy, and B.B. King are, among others, all purported to have built and played CBG's early in their musical careers.  The styles, construction, materials used, number of strings, and tunings of these unique instruments are as myriad and varied as the people who make them.  Though some are fretted, purists generally agree that the original CBG's had un-fretted necks more suitable to playing with a slide.


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