Something New at Past & Present
Beautiful, one-of-a-kind musical instruments.
At Past and Present Home Gallery, we have done it again! We have found more unique hand-made collectibles for you. This time in the form of Cigar Box Guitars!
There’s currently a revival in collector interest in Cigar Box Guitars.
Just like it sounds, the cigar box guitar is a simple stringed instrument that uses an empty cigar box as a resonator and also can be made from broom handles, wooden rulers, screen wire; whatever can be found. They generally have 3 strings and all the basic components of a guitar: neck, body, bridge and strings - although variations occur at the whimsy of the maker. Tuned to open chords, cigar box guitars are often played with a slide or one finger. Fun to play, they also make affordable showpieces for the collector of musical instruments and those who appreciate handmade Americana.
A history that is Classic Americana.
Cigar box instruments were created when money was scarce. Their humble beginnings originated from the ingenuity of people with music in their souls but no means to buy an instrument. There is an etching of Civil War soldiers sitting outside a tent with one of them playing a cigar box violin. In 1890, Daniel Carter Beard, co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, published plans on how to make a cigar box banjo in the “American Boy’s Handbook.” Cigar box guitars gained greater popularity during the Great Depression. Many times the builder was a child with no money but a desire to play music.
As a boy, rock’n roll pioneer Carl Perkins had a cigar box guitar that he made with a box, stick and baling wire. Learning on that instrument enabled him to write “Blue Suede Shoes” many years later. Blind Willie Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Christian are more examples of stars who first learned to play on a cigar box guitar.
Everything old is new again.
If you look online, you will see photos of Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler, Bo Diddley, Samantha Fish, Johnny Depp, Justin Johnson, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top with versions of cigar box guitars. There are fine art prints of cigar box guitars to be found and there is even a Cigar Box Guitar Museum in York, Pennsylvania.
These special instruments are becoming more desirable once again. More than just folk art or Americana, they are meant to be played. At Past & Present our beautiful hand-made selections, created by a skilled craftsman, vary in materials and design and really must be seen to be appreciated. The acoustic models have phosphor bronze & steel strings. The electric models are complete with volume knob, piezo pickup and nickel-wound strings.
Do you have the music in you? Express it by taking one of these wonderful out-of-the-ordinary instruments home to learn on and play for your friends and family. It will be a conversation starter for sure. And you will have an uncommon treasure!