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Stogie News: Play a Cigar Box Guitar

16 Dec 2010

And now for something completely different: puffing and picking.

Yes, that simple cigar box—like the ones you’ve got in the closet, the garage, and tucked who knows where—can make beautiful music beyond the joyous symphony of smoke the contents provide.

Just ask Steve Cinnamon. He’s a 64-year-old former ad exec living near Sarasota, Florida, who got involved in the old-time craft of cigar box guitars while recovering from a heart attack in 2009. He’s sold quite a few and been featured in newspapers and magazines.

Cigar box guitar history goes back at least to the Civil War. Pickers range from Lightnin’ Hopkins and Carl Perkins to Tom Waits and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. You can hear numerous performances on YouTube and get lots of information, including DIY instructions, at the Cigar Box Guitars website.

Steve says his favorite boxes are Punch and Fuente. “Others work as well also,” he wrote me in an email, “but these seem to be some of the best sounds.”

His approach is a combination of traditional and contemporary. He favors the acoustic three-string model with frets over electric models. “I can make both,” he wrote. “However, I prefer not to make them electric, and it would lose the authenticity of the 150-year-old tradition.”

But he also utilizes resonators (sink drains) and modern designs, such as one that appears to be based loosely on the famous Gibson Flying V. He will build what a customer wants, though he said “most of the time my clients trust me to do the right thing.”

If you’re interested in one of Steve’s creations, he said he’s still working on his website but you can email him.

[View more photos of Steve’s cigar box guitars here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

2 Responses to “Stogie News: Play a Cigar Box Guitar”

  1. Marc E Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Love the off-the-beaten path story today. This looks awesome. Thanks again StogieGuys!

  2. Chris V Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 4:11 am #

    And here's a free album of Christmas music done on cigarbox guitars. Released by well… hahaha: