Cigar Box Origins.


Recently, a one time Hobo called Seasick Steve was “discovered” playing various versions of a cigar box guitar. He had been busking to earn a living and was picked up by a US news channel. Before long Seasick Steve was appearing on TV and appeared on Jool’s Holland’s Hootenanny in 2006 and this appearance resulted in a resurgence of the Cigar Box Guitar in the UK.

Completed Cigar Box Guitar

Completed Cigar Box Guitar


The earliest record of a Cigar Box Guitar was found on some drawings of army soldiers during the American Civil War. Since these early times the cigar box guitar, and those made from biscuit tins and any small box, have appeared in the poor areas of the States. The home made instruments were often used to play the blues.

Cigar boxes became popular due to the importation of cigars from Cuba. The small boxes that contained a dozen or more cigars were readily available and ideal for making the sound-box of a guitar. The delta blues, often played using a slide became popular. Slides made from whisky or wine bottle necks were used.

Over the years various methods of amplifying the sound have been incorporated into the design and modern day Cigar Box Guitars are often found with either a Piezo transducer pick-up, or a regular electric guitar pick-up robbed of an old axe.

Today you can either collect some random boxes and guitar parts to fashion your own guitar, or buy a kit with all the parts you need. You don’t need to be particularly skilled to make a cigar Box guitar as it is meant to be a crude instrument. There are makers who are producing high quality examples and if you get the bug, I’m sure you will be wanting to make better and more sophisticated examples.