Cigar Box Guitars
Often referred to as the "poor man's guitar," the cigar box guitar implements an empty cigar box as the guitar's resonator. A less-luxurious alternative to electric or acoustic guitars, this musical instrument is well suited for those on a budget who are simply looking to create their own sounds. Cigar box guitars vary in appearance and sound, so as you shop, remember to take your personal preferences into account to help you find the perfect guitar.
Cigar Box Guitar History
Cigar box guitars originated in the late 1800s. These instruments were crafted from cigar boxes and were typically made by African Americans who could not afford the cost of an actual guitar at the time. During the Great Depression, the instrument's popularity soared due to widespread poverty, as many individuals found comfort playing music.
Cigar box guitars are comprised of three main parts: the cigar box, the strings and the neck. The neck is then broken down into two main types, with round and square options available. Round necks, or those typically found on acoustic guitars, are played in a traditional, upright position. Conversely, square necks are best positioned on the lap and take on more of a rectangular shape. The latter is the more popular style, although choosing the right type is best determined by how you plan to play.
The body of the cigar box guitar, the guitar box, is typically constructed of wood or aluminium; however, higher-end models may be made from steel or brass. As you search, consider the benefits and drawbacks of each material type. Steel guitars are renowned for their durability, though these guitars tend to produce a crisp, sharp tone. On the other hand, brass and wood guitars produce a softer tone, but some woods (such as solid hardwood) tend to be fragile. Aluminium guitars, while sometimes preferred for their light weight, do not produce a very clear tone.
You'll want to take the string count of the cigar box guitar into account as you shop around for one. Most cigar box guitars have three or less strings, though it is possible to find models with anywhere from one to six strings, and string count is solely determined by personal preference. You will also need to consider guitar tuning, since the build of the guitar may be standard or open tuning.