The Modern Revolution
Jug band music and blues can trace their roots back to hand made guitars and fiddles. These crude, but playable instruments, would have been made by hand since most of the builders could not afford to buy a new instrument of their own. Slaves, soldiers in the Civil War and people who lived through the Great Depression would have fashioned instruments out of whatever materials they could find to entertain themselves.
The Cigar Box
Before 1840 cigars were mostly transported in larger boxes of 100 or more. After 1840 manufacturers made smaller boxes which worked perfectly for these home made instruments. Cigar boxes abound today and are readily available online or even in your home town at cigar stores.
This cigar box guitar revolution is one that has gained and continues to gain momentum. Artists and builders such as Shane Speal, Mike Snowden, Justin Johnson and retailers such as CB Gitty have been promoting the cigar box guitar building and playing. You can find plenty of instructional videos on YouTube, not only in building but in playing them as well. The supply or parts for the construction of cigar box guitars is growing daily. You can buy kits or the parts you need to complete a home made cigar box guitar build.
The most common guitars are three string but there are also one, four and six string as well. The best thing about this for a builder is that there really are no mistakes. However it turns out, and however it sounds, makes that instrument totally unique.
Plugging It In
Electrifying a cigar box guitar is not difficult and you can even build your own amp. All of the guitars I make can plug into an amp, whether with a Humbucker or a simple piezo pickup. These are easy to install and I also found instructions online and fashioned an amp out of an old tube radio. It has a real unique sound quality just like the instruments.