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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 125 | June 28 , 2009|


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Sounds & Rhythm

Cigar Box Guitar

Compiled by Nazia Ahmed

THE cigar box guitar is the symbol of true resilience, made by Shane Speal, who is keeping the tradition alive. Children and adults created countless number of these contraptions when money was scarce but passion for music was brimful. They used wood boxes, broom handles, screen wire and whatever else was lying around to create their instruments. Rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkens reminisced about his childhood cigar box guitar that he made with a box, stick and baling wire. Years later, he would take the knowledge he first learned on that down-home axe to create songs like 'Blue Suede Shoes.' In fact, many blues, rock and jazz gods got their start banging away on these home made instruments. Blind Willie Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Christian are only three to name. The cigar box guitar is even represented in the Smithsonian.

The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone whose resonator is a discarded cigar box. Because the instrument is homemade, there is no standard for dimensions, string types or construction techniques.

Many early cigar box guitars consisted only of one or two strings that were attached to the ends of a broomstick that was inserted into the cigar box.

Other cigar box guitars were more complex, with the builder attempting to simulate a real stringed instrument, such as a guitar, banjo, or fiddle.
Currently, there is resurgence in this humble instrument and musicians are creating many new designs. Some are adding additional strings and necks while others are incorporating active electronics that make them playable through guitar amplifiers.

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