Hi, my name is John McNair. This is a website about Homemade guitars, Cigar box & 3 string guitars, Cookie tin banjos, and all things made by people like yourself who have decided building and playing homemade instruments is so much more rewarding than buying "name" brand guitars.

Come back often and enjoy reading the new daily stories with your morning coffee or whenever you need a spark of inspiration. I post here almost every day with historic photos and the latest stories of these wonderful homespun instruments.

Also, Give the photos time to load on your screen, some of the photos are huge, I wanted to display them nicely, so some will take time to load on your computer.

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1930's Homemade Mountain Banjo

I saw this instrument for sale up on ebay and the auction did not have any of the history listed with the sale. The only clue or tid bit of info about this homemade box banjo is that it's from Sutton, Massachusetts.

You can kind of approximate it's age by how long it takes for wood to age like it has on the body, by looking at the screw in the tail piece, and looking at the finishing nails used to build it. I would guess it was made in the 20's or 30's. It would say it's pre war sometime.
Man this sure is fantastic. It's so well made I know it could be played right now today, and I bet it would play just as well as it did 80 years ago.

1930's Homemade Mountain Banjo

As you can see this was made by a craftsman at home, yet paying attention to detail though-out the build.  It's a five string banjo. It has some type of skin on top of a homemade box. It looks like someone used violin pegs as the tuners. That's both brilliant and works well. It was probably a cheap and easy way to build a instrument back then that would have reliable tuning.

You can look at the screws and the nails to try kind of date these type of homemade instruments.  The person who made this banjo put a lot of effort into something that they could play. Talk about twang? This wonderful piece of Americana is an inspiration to us all to build your own musical instrument.

This banjo is what it's all about....Do-It-yourself!

Natural Born Confederate

I drew this art just having fun today. I was thinking about my childhood growing up in New Orleans. They use to have an old beautiful large green and white Dixie brewery sign right there when you got off the ferry on the other side of Algiers Point. You would come out and off the landing ramp and then you could walk to the left to go to the riverwalk, or cut to the right and when you looked up, there was Dixie Beer sign that stood about 40 feet up....it was huge and really cool. I just kinda spun that into my own art.

Bounty Hunter Cigars ~ 1877 ~

I came up with this idea for a cigar box guitar pickup cover after listening to a T. Boone Pickens interview, someone asked him about the price of "expensive oil."
Boone said, "Well, my great grand daddy was a bounty hunter, he went after all kinds of criminals in the wild west...what do you think....he charged by the bullet???
 That sure shut up that person giving the interview fast! They did not know how to respond.....But I can tell you, Don't give no lip, don't get none!

Anyways, I liked what I heard. I was so inspired I whipped out some paper on the moment and I came up with this art that could be a brand of cigars and I think it would make a cool cover art to engrave on the front of a cigar box resonator guitar pickup cover.

The Dimestore Cowboy

Best place on earth to buy stuff for building guitars????

Yep, the Hardware store : )

It's great, all those "real" guitar builders have to spend countless dollars on rare and exotic woods and expensive guitar parts, but folks like us can hit up the local 5 and dime and come out with our next great noise maker....How's that Mr. Fender!

beStillroy Clark 1923

One "Lucky" Ticket

Come one, Come all!

 Here is your printable ticket...prices subject to change!

To be held at : Frenchmen Theatre - 514 Frenchmen St. New Orleans, LA 70116
It's a great reason to visit New Orleans, a town with lots of history, GREAT food and so much to do!

Papa was a Rolling Stone

You probably thought that headline was about this photo huh?
 My daughter calls me "Papa"....so I guess you could say I'm a "Rolling Stone" too?
Am I going to far with this??? Who cares....This is cool!

As for the photo, yep, it's Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones recording a new song. He is playing a Daddy Mojo 4 string. Honestly, can this be any cooler?

Two for Five

I did this art for my Cigar Box Guitar music CD, if you would like to hear some of this music and see the CDs and DVDs I have for sale on the subject of cigar box and 3 string guitars,
you can click here

Cigar Box Resonator Guitar

I keep making this guitar over and over. I hate to be repetitive, it's just that it is such a great sounding guitar. It's also super easy to play and just downright fun to play.
Three string guitar are so easy to play, they really are, I know I post the same stuff and harp on the same thing, but a 3 string cigar box guitar is by far the easiest guitar to learn, plus the have the most authintic "old time Blues" tone and feel in the music that they make. On top of that, a great guitar player can use one to record the most interetsing and vintage sounding recordings possible. It's hard to believe there is so many opinions with such a simple guitar.

If you have yet to try building your own cigar box guitar. I highly recommend building one with a  resonator cone made by "Old Lowe" from  Rockwall Texas, They are the only parts I use on my guitars. Not only is Mike a great friend, but his resonator cones speak for themselves...I literally mean it, these cones can talk!

Have a listen to this short video,

If you would be interested in buying a fully built guitar like this email me at john@reddogguitars.com

or Just google "Red Dog Guitars"

Cigar Box Label Art

Today I drew this art, I originally started off trying to draw a new idea for a 4 string cigar box guitar pickup, but the wording would not fit, so I just went ahead and made it just art for art's sake.

The inspiration behind this art is a short story.
I was walking in WalMart by myself and as I went to the front of the store near the checkout, this boy darted out right in front of me headed to that candy stepped ladder thing with all the candy bars and stuff....just as he stepped right in front of my path, this guy (his Dad) grabbed him by his shirt and said
"Go over yonder and stand there with your Mom!"

Man he sure did stop his kid dead in his tracks!....but I tell you what, when I heard those words "over yonder" they rang in my ear!...I have not heard that saying in many years, I just loved it!... say it with me.....Over Yonder!

So I came home and was inspired to do art and wanted to just write "over yonder" on something. I thought it would be cool to engrave it on a pickup and turn it into vintage style tobacco art.....but the wording and shape would not be the right dimentions, so I just made what I think would be a cool cigar box label. If this were the early 1900's and I was making cigar box labels I think this would be a great brand....What'cha think???

I did this art on old gray blank military paper from a 1940's Navy diary book. I then decided to draw it with Blue ink to give it an authentic period feel. I think it could pass for the real thing!

You'll be needin' a page breaker before I set you up with this next shot...

This video was recorded with a 3 string guitar and an old 1950's radio turned into a retro-rocket homemade guitar amp.

Southern Rock Monday

You thought I was gonna say Sunday....didn't you?

Well, no matter what day you watch this, this is just a wonderful song and the cigar box guitar solo on this video is off the hook!
Put on some headphones, this is a really great recording for being recorded live.
This is what its all about : )

Three-peat Poster

I know, I just posted a photo of this guitar a day ago!

 Today I figured I might as well try my hand at recycling art and photos...that's what the guitars are all about anyways?
The label in the top corner I drew on top of the photo is inspired by labels on old auto parts boxes from the 50's and 60's. I used this art a few days ago on the Las Cabrillas guitar with no strings on the body. The guitar in this photo is a silver" Old Timer" 3 string guitar paired with a vintage early 1970's Pignose...by far the best sounding amp for cigar box guitar. I just love old Pignoses!

The New Timer

 I finished up this 1857 Old Timer guitar this week. It's a project I have been working on for about 20 days. All of the metal work is done in Silver/Aluminum that I've made to match. This guitar is a 3 string guitar and I am playing it thru a 1955 Arvin Radio that I have rewired and turned into a vintage guitar amplifier. 
Just wanted to share this photo as well as see for myself what it looks like on a computer screen.

Inside the Box - Cigar Box Guitar Builder's Documentary

Check out this wonderful story about an Argentinean banker whose true passion has always been music. He also happens to be a very talented maker of handcrafted cigar box guitars. He shares what sparked his curiosity for this hobby and the emotion he gets by peoples' response to his craft.
This is a wonderful video and story!

1907 Acme Construction Plans

I found these antique cigar box guitar "how to build" construction plans at an abandoned Coyote camp site when I went camping this weekend....that poor old Road Runner never stood a chance!

English Gentleman

Here is a photo of English soldiers during World War 1. I have seen many older photos from the early 1900's with people making and playing homemade cigar box instruments over in the UK.
There is defiantly a long history of making homemade instruments in England and they seem to have loved making cigar box fiddles as I have seen them making this exact style of instrument in both World War 1 and 2.

Anyways, check out these guys doing there thing!

The H-1 Racer

I was changing the channels randomly watching TV last night and I just stumbled upon and saw a really fascinating biography about Howard Hughes. Wow, I must say his life and story was really captivating to say the least, what a complex and interesting person....as much as he was a troubled individual in his later life, he was equally brilliant in his younger life!

So, I woke up and started my day as normal, in the shop working on a cigar box guitar....and then it suddenly landed in my head a flash of inspiration for a cool guitar and some art for a guitar Pickup cover.

I just a grabbed a pencil and this is what came out....It's just a ruff draft and concept, I drew this in a fervor of creative inspiration, when it hits, I just run with it.
I think this has the potential to become a really cool black and silver 1930's style three string guitar inspired by the H-1 Racer that Howard Hughes flew and set those speed records and wrecked in 1937.

It could be done... I think he would agree!

Aged Cigar Box Guitar tuners

ZZ Top's ~ Billy Gibbons song playing the cigar box guitar

Here is a song of Billy Gibbons playing a Cigar Box Guitar. It is such a great recording of the cigar box guitar, he is playing a cigar box resonator guitar and he is playing a version of Ry Cooder's "Billy the Kid."

Anyways, enough chatter, time for the encore!

Old Time Cigar Box 3 String Fiddle

Check out this homemade cigar box fiddle. It was made in the early 1900's and is a 3 string.

Not much else is know, but like I always say when these old instruments pop up, I sure would love to meet the person who made it and hear the music they played on it.

It's from Tennessee, so the maker must have been playing Appalachian folk music on it. I can hear it now.....That ol' time country swing!

How to make Cigar Box Guitar & 3 String "Magnetic" Pickups

This is a 30 minute master class on How to make your own homemade cigar box guitar pickups.
Rail Road Don is super awesome, and watching him work his magic is fun.... and there is nothing better than hanging out with your elders!  This is how we all learn to be better craftsmen.
Watch these 2 videos in a row, you will know from scratch how to hand spin homemade guitar pickups....and they sound terrific!

Here is the second part, I just love the tone of it at the end, super unique and original, He captures that old time homemade sound so well, so follow this recipe and make your own.

The Man In Black

Check out this killer old time Blues recording and song by Graeme Moncrieff

An original song written and performed on his self-built cigar box guitar.

The Civilized World

Check out this photo of prisoners of War from a work shop in a World War 1 internment camp.

They are making homemade instruments. This must have be in a time when humanity was much different. I have often heard and read about French and German soldiers who would fight during the day, and at night go to the front lines to trade items and stories and spend the evening together in comradery.

From Down Under

Check out this really great performance played on cigar box guitar, the vocals are excellent too.

This is what homemade music is all about!

The 11th Annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival

The Cigar Box Guitar Festival is back for its 11th year at Lowe Mill ARTS &Entertainment in Huntsville Alabama.

 This is the original Cigar Box Guitar festival and the Mecca for people who are into celebrating all aspects of Cigar Box Guitar folk culture. Here is this years poster.

Birds of a feather.....

Hey, one guy's not flocking!!!!

Someone's got his homemade cigar box "twang thing" ....we know what he is thinking about!
 Sweet shot from World War One 1917.

Three-string Thursday

Another project comes to an end. Time to clean up the shop, hose down the floors, organize the shelves and to start thinking about what's next in the creative pipeline...but till then, time to have a little fun and enjoy playing this guitar before I have to put it up for sale.

more than meets the eye

There's something awfully curious about this photo...I can't quite place my finger on it, but I'll let you know when I figure it out!

Couple of soldiers from Belgium 1918. Termoking we salute you!

Victory Guitar Pickups

Today I would like to share with you cigar box guitar pickups that are both ultra low and easy to install on your guitar. They are also really cool with vintage art and hand lettering that makes your guitar have that homemade Americana feel and touch.

Would you like to know more???

I knew you would!.....or better yet, I knew you wood!

These pickups are made by my friend Wade at Victory Guitars and he is the same pickup maker that I posted about awhile back who also makes 60's style Gold Foil pickups, only this time he's taken his creativity to an all new level of awesomeness.
Check out these few hand drawn examples,

Are you still with me??? I bet your droolin' over these photos just like I am!

These pickups are made from cigar box tops and as you can see, the pickup itself that is hidden below is barley any bigger than the thickness of a cigar box lid. I love this concept and I know at first glance anyone can visualize a cool guitar just with the fact of putting one of these on.

Look how thin and low!

Victory Guitar pickups are just perfect for cigar box guitars with neck thru construction, hardly no notching into the neck, now that's both cool and easy work with.
For those that want more info and where to buy them, you can see them here at this link,

Ok folks, carry on with your day and I hope this info helps the person out there who wants to add a pickup to their cigar box guitar with a pickup that has just the right mix of homemade Americana, and ease of use to install, this is the perfect guitar pickup for you!.....remember the name "Victory Guitars Pickups."

Trendsetting is my buisness!

Check out this World War 1 French soldier from 1916 with his hand made canteen guitar, he seems to think it's worth a pose....and so do I!

I can only imagine what's going thru his mind? We should have a "caption this" contest : )

The Country Life

 Imagine this,

It's the 1890's, you live deep in the heart of the South,  you'r just sitting in an old creeky rocking chair on the front porch of your cabin just strummin' a homemade cigar box guitar while the beautiful breeze blows thru your hair.......the farm work is done, Ma's in the kitchen cookin' supper with biskets made from scratch, all is peaceful in the fields as the afternoon shade finally cools off the land......and while you wait, the kids are playing in the yard...the chores are done, it's time to relax....those sweet jangles coming from your homemade guitar make your ears smile and take away all the worries on your mind...

Now that's the Country Life!

Ok, so I'm being a bit "too literal" but here's a real "Country Life" cigar box guitar that I found for sale on ebay today, yes, made from an old country life cigar box!

How cool is this sweet piece of history!

Hey, did you remember to feed the chickens?

Reso-Phonic Reso-Fever

I am just Coo-Coo for kooky cones!
I really am, I just can't get enough of that jangly sound and twang they put out. For me they have the best timber and feeling when I play. Old Lowe hand spins resonator cones that when added to a simple cigar box, they create such a wonderful instrument to play.

Hopefully I am not posting too much about the same thing, resonators over and over, it's just that every time I build a guitar with one of Mike's cones... as soon as I am done I want to make another, they are absolutely fun to build and even funner to play!
Have a listen and watch this video, you can see and hear my newest guitar, a Radiola 3 string cigar box guitar made with an Old Lowe aluminum cone,

If you are on the fence about trying to make one, give it a try, it's worth the extra effort,
I promise you will have a blast researching and learning how to build your own reso-phonic guitar,
.... you'll also have a dynamite good time playing it!

March 1916

Check out this old photo of a cigar box instrument. This is another of a long line of World War 1 photos that cigar box guitar builder "Termoking" has found over in Europe. I have not keep count but I think he has found about 15 or 20 different examples with soldiers and their homemade instruments.

I have posted before on this site, "I wish I could hear it" or "I wonder what it sounds like?"....but the truth is we kinda know what it sounds like. Strum just about any cigar box guitar and you too will know just what this instrument in this photo sounded like....and that's pretty dang cool, keeping history alive!

Top Secret - Burn Notice upon reading

To all my cigar box guitar spies in the trenches,

This is a message for your eyes only!...Burn after reading, do not let this info fall in the hands of Fender.
HA! OK, just a little morning fun.

Everybody always asks me about the single string bridges on the Delta Tramp or the three string guitars I make, so I will post info here so you know what parts to buy if you want to try to build one (you can also make them with bent brass or steel) To see examples visit reddogguitars.com
or here is a quick shot of one,

First thing's first, they are NOT bass bridges, they look similar, but they are much smaller and made for guitar strings, they are not for basses.

They are called "ABM single string guitar bridges," they are sold at allparts.com
They are also available on ebay ( from time to time) . They are top load, meaning the string slips in from the back, super easy to add to a guitar and they are great as you can make the guitar string widths in any size or distance.
The drawback is they are about 30 bucks each, yes!!!! 90 dollars per guitar....they are pricey, but..it is what it is, and I can tell you worth every penny.

Second option is the Hipshot solo,

These are only 19 bucks each, and they are body thru, (same as a standard hard tail)
If you study the photo, you can see that you can in fact make these yourself with home depot "L brackets"
 Believe it or not that's all I do for those old school Delta Tramp guitars I make, I just use the brass curtain brackets and drill my own holes, I polish them and add black saddles, that's it. You only need to cut off one side of the bracket and then drill small holes to add a saddle and one small hole under the saddle itself to slip the string thru, remember these are NOT top load as there is no room, so you do need to come up thru the back of the guitar to load the string.
Other than that, just look at the photos, there are easy enough to make from brackets at home depot.

Well, that's it, DO NOT let this info fall in the hands of the enemy, you have your burn notice!

Take a step back in time...

Check out this amazing cigar box guitar performance. The guitar player is Kyle Reid and his playing really captures that Old Time Delta Blues sound.
If you want to learn to play great 3 string guitar, he puts on a clinic for sure, just watch, study and listen, there is so much to learn just by listening and watching this video. I promise you will be left speechless.

Check this video out and put on some headphones, listen to details, it's all in the delivery

The Five Cent Smoker

I was working in the shop today and this idea came to me for a cigar box guitar pickup.

It's a ruff draft first impression of a cigar brand from the 1920's but with my own spin on the box top art, This could make a great 3 string guitar pickup cover for a cigar box resonator guitar called "Cinco."

Homemade Cigar Box Guitar Amplifers

This is perhaps the best How to build a cigar box amplifier video I have ever seen. If you want to learn how to build homemade guitar amplifiers this covers it all. This is a true build along tutorial starting from absolute scratch.

The interesting 20 minute video breaks everything down, from the parts, pieces, resistors, caps, soldering to the motherboard, every single up close step by step on how to build every nook and cranky to make a simple yet great sounding and unique amplifier made from a used cigar box.

This is a really interesting video and so well put together, watch it, I'm sure you'll want to give it a try!

Singing the Blues with Earl ‘Guitar’ Williams

I would like to share a story with you an incredible cigar box guitar player I found in an online newspaper today.
 His tone and sound is amazing!

Video by Max Shores
Guitar made by Johnny Lowebow
Story written by Susan Mann Pell City Library St. Clair News-Aegis
Blues lovers and music aficionados are in for a treat at the Pell City Library on Wednesday, Feb 18 at noon. Blues musician Earl “Guitar” Williams is headed this way, and he’s toting his guitar. Not just any guitar, mind you. While the instrument originated as a King Edward cigar box, it has graduated to bigger and better things. In Williams’ hands, it might as well be a Martin or Alvarez. Don’t be surprised if he brings along his harmonica and his electric guitar, too.
You might find yourself humming and singing along as this fun-loving musician works the crowd with his special magic, and a passion for music that began at the tender age of 7 years ol Williams’ is a story of a young man with a dream and great determination. Spurred by the love of music and the desire to play the guitar, a boy from Bessemer overcame incredible odds to follow his dream. He loved music and often listened to and admired the songs by Roy Rogers, Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley. He was especially fascinated by the guitar accompaniment and began to ask his parents to purchase one for him. He was one of nine children, and though they recognized his interest, his parents simply could not afford to buy him one. However, this dream was not easily deterred.
When Williams discovered that Bo Didley had made his own guitar from a cigar box, he fashioned one for himself as well with a King Edward cigar box, a broomstick and a little fishing cord. It was the beginning of his musical career, and the rest, as they say, is history.
                                                                                                                                                                             At the age of 9, Williams befriended Raleigh and Joe Redmond. These brothers owned an acoustic guitar, and as they gathered on the Redmond’s back porch to practice various songs, the noise began to sound like “real music.” Meanwhile, just two blocks away, near the home of Henry Gipson, another plan was taking place. Mr. Gip” recognized a need in the community, and began to clear land near his home for the children of the community to play baseball. As children gathered to play ball, Williams found his interest diverted instead to the guitars on “Mr. Gip’s” porch and the men that often played there. He found himself returning again and again to watch seasoned guitarists such as Louis Franklin, Willie “Dude” Franklin, Little Bro Franklin, and Mr. Gip himself. He longed to play acquire their skill. Fortunately, neighbors “Bunkie Boy” and Eugene Patton, both proficient guitarists, allowed Williams to shadow them, and took the time to teach him their techniques.
Williams also frequented a local pawn shop where other players, who noted Williams’s interest and taught him to tune the guitar and make chords. Eventually, by the age of 12, Williams landed his first job as a shoeshine boy in the rear of a barber shop, earning 20 cents per customer. From his meager earnings he purchased his first authentic guitar. By the age of 13 he had his first gig with a band called The Corruptors, playing the blues and the sounds of Motown. They performed for and were well received by adult audiences, though they were too young to go out into the audience during break.
Williams continued play with various bands, even into adulthood, balancing work at U.S. Steel with performance opportunities locally and across the United States. He eventually took a leave of absence from U.S. Steel to work for a time with musicians in Dallas, playing with the band Justice of the Peace. Later, returning to U.S. Steel in Birmingham, he began playing with legendary jazz great, Cleve Eaton in the Garden of Eden Band. During this time, he developed an interest in the harmonica as well, and under Eaton’s tutelage learned the theory of blues, and a better understanding of blues harmonica. He began to add the harmonica to his music, strengthening his sound, and notoriety. He also began to write music, sounding out his troubles.
 When laid off from U.S. Steel in the mid-1980s, music became William’s survival as his traveled with circuit blues legend Benny Latimore, playing in the KALU band. He also became Latimore’s personal hair stylist when, by chance, his talents became evident. Once back in Birmingham, Williams decided to seek further training in hair styling and enrolled in the School of Cosmetology. After graduation, he decided to quit touring, and to open his own hair studio, Intensive Care Beauty Salon in Bessemer.
Now, more than 23 years later, he continues to run his salon, but he still plays with Benny Latimore, and other artists when they are in the area, and he often returns to Mr. Gip’s Juke Joint where he started his musical journey.

Miku from Poland


Check out this awesome short documentary about homemade guitars built by Miku in Poland.

This is so dang cool!...I just love where he says "I'd rather use a fork than some hi-tec instrument part" and that he likes to make his cigar box guitars primitive for the challenge of it, this is such a great video. In fact we get to watch him make the coolest bridge from an old fork!
*Note to self* Time to raid the kitchen drawer when my wife's not looking :-)

Take a moment and watch this video, you will really get inspired to head out in your gargare and see what kind of homemade guitars you can dream up with those old scraps, bits and pices of left over parts of yester-year.

Papa, is it fixed yet?

Found this photo of some guy working on his radio at home. There was a time in the past long before our modern "throw-away society" if you wanted it fixed you had to do it yourself.
Everyone who enjoys making homemade stuff has had a project or two "frazzle" them out ...but this poor fellow had one of his family members run off and grab the camera....Priceless!

That's OK good buddy, we've all be there...some far too many times to admit!

Saturdays & The Sunday Blues

It's Saturday, today I was in the shop all day today. I finished a Top Shelf pickup and took some photos of it.

I'm tired and board now tonight and just sitting here looking at todays pictures on the computer and listening to 80's music, yeah , I am....but on the flipside....I can't wait till tomorrow, I'm gonna start building on some new stuff, to bad the mailman don't come on Sundays, I am waiting to rip into some guitar parts and packages that I ordered last week.....I bet you can relate?!?
  ...you order stuff for your next build----your next "great idea"....your new source of inspiration in your own private mind----a new guitar in your vision, it's finally time and clear as to what and how your going to do it,  you thought the whole process out, you just now need the parts to start!!!

------ and then just to wait by the window like a lonesome old house cat.

If only that mailman would just show up on Sundays.

Benny B And his CBG

Whooa! Fair warning, you are about to have your butt blasted out of your seat and handed back to you!

This is just a strait up INCREDIBLE performance!

Watch this video, Not only is the guitar off the hook, but when you hear the singing....Lift off!!!
I suggest headphones for the full awesomeness  ;-)

The first intro part is in French, but the song is in English, Watch it all the way thru, it's really AMAZING!!!

Retired farmer turns odds and ends into guitars

86 years young and building cigar box guitars!
 This is what I love about American Tradition and Homemade guitars, good folks like Levoy Saltzman.. He is one of America's "Greatest Generation." I would love to spend an afternoon in his workshop, heck I would love for him to be my Grandpa! So much wisdom and interesting topics he could pass on to those that would want to listen.

Anyways, This awesome story came up in a local newspaper from Shickley, Nebraska

 Lincoln Journal Star-- Levoy Saltzman stands in his living room and strums a strange-looking guitar.
He belts out the first few verses of "This Land is Your Land" and then a gospel song.
"I play mostly in the key of C because it matches my voice," said the 86-year-old retired farmer and carpenter who lives in the Fillmore County town of Shickley.
He made the guitar from a cigar box and odds and ends scavenged from yard sales, auctions and music stores. Friends and family members pick up the boxes here and there and give them to Saltzman, or he buys them at a tobacco shop in Hastings.
He doesn't smoke, but he knows what type of cigar boxes work best for his homemade guitars. Wood boxes have a better sound, but it's hard to find them in the right size, so he likes to use deep ones made from cardboard and paper.
"They all have just a little bit of a different sound because of the size of the box and the way it resonates," Saltzman said.Everything about his guitars is simple.He cuts the necks from the leaves of oak dining tables. Oak doesn't warp easily, Saltzman explained, and table leaves are cheaper to buy than new wood from a lumber yard.
He makes the top bridges from 3/8-inch diameter bolts, which guide the guitar strings. He buys the bolts long and cuts them to fit wide or narrow necks.Saltzman fashions the lower bridges out of plastic toothbrushes -- not the fancy curved ones but ones with straight handles.
He makes frets from sixpenny nails with the heads and points cut off, and he buys used string tighteners from music stores.Saltzman has made 14 cigar box guitars this year and sells them at local craft fairs."I really can't make them fast enough. I'm all out," he said.The acoustic version costs $50. He sells an electric model guitar for $60.
"You can drive somebody out of the room when you plug it into an amplifier," said Saltzman, who uses a Piezo buzzer as a pickup to magnify the guitar's sound.
He finds the large button-like devices in the handles of old rotary dial telephones that were common during the 1960s. Saltzman hooks the buzzer wires to a jack that he glues to the inside of a cigar box.
Sometimes he dresses up a guitar by placing gold-colored grommets around the circles he drills into a cigar box lid, so the sound can escape. He also uses other types of wood as decoration.
Saltzman began playing guitar about five years ago and said it took him a day or two to get the hang of it. He also plays harmonica and button accordion.
He began making cigar box guitars after reading a magazine article about a man from the Grand Island area who made them as a hobby. Saltzman thought he'd give it a try and did some research on the Internet.Now, he makes them in his garage, spending about 15 hours on each instrument.
Making guitars out of ordinary things is nothing new, Saltzman said. During the 1920s and '30s when money was scarce, people made them out of all sorts of boxes. They even used metal wash tubs to make stand-up basses.
"A lot of folks say they have not seen them before," he said of his cigar box creations. "The musicians know what they are, but a lot of people don't."Saltzman used to take along a cigar box guitar when he and his late wife, Norma, performed at nursing homes. She played the piano accordion and keyboards.He still plays and sings occasionally, including a June performance at Rock Creek Trail Days near Fairbury.
"I like music," Saltzman said, when asked why he makes his cigar box guitars.
Certainly, it's not for the money. The price of the guitars doesn't include his labor.
"I need something to do. I can't go out and build a house anymore ... I have to work with my hands," Saltzman said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.
December 25, 2014 5:00 pm  •  By ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star

A day in my Cigar Box Workshop

Wonder what a typical day is like in my shop?
Come along with me and watch this video of me and my shop helper build some cool stuff.
For me, the most important thing in my shop is having fun and spending time with my family!

Not to long ago, I saw this little red 1952 Arvin radio body on ebay for just 10 bucks so I snached up faster than greesed lightin'.....I knew at 10 bucks, it would work great as it was empty and blank canvas that I could build it with an amplifier kit for cheap and also a great way to have a lot of fun.

Today is Two'fer Thurdays

I'll let Little Creaser's have 2'fer Tuesdays, they claim there selling "pizza" but I beg to differ!...If we were talking, I'd have to put that in air quotes. Unless you've had one of those real hand made artisan pies cooked in a wooden & brick stove, I reserve the right to use both the word "pizza" and "two'fer" for the more deserving!

So Check out the 2 items I have to deliver in today's news feed.

The first is Jenna Leigh Doll playing a Handmade Cigar Box Guitar, this is fantastic music and playing. Not only can she really play great, but she made the guitar herself!

Watch this video, This is as cool as it gets!

Sam'l F. Davis 1886
Recently I had a day with nothing to do while I was waiting for paint to dry. So I pulled out the camera and had some fun at photography and just wanted to see what kind of black and white photos I could create. I knew right away that I wanted to shoot photos of a vintage wooden Sam'l F. Davis 1886 homemade cigar box guitar. These cigar boxes have such and iconic and rustic look.
 These old cigar boxes are always for sale on ebay. They are not rare or hard to find. Best part is they are solid cedar wood and make great instruments. They can be found in the under 20-ish dollar range and can lead your building in 2 directions, you can build an instrument with the snarly old beat up boxes for a vintage look, or buy the well cared for boxes for a few dollars more and make your build clean and simple.
Well, here is the black and white photo art I came up with, my camera has a setting where it removes the color for an old time look, it called monochrome and looks pretty dang cool.