Monday, October 09, 2006

What are Cigar Box Guitars and what is "Smojo"

I first saw one on an auction site and bought it and am now making them. Here's three I made. They have only three strings and are played with a "slide" or "bottleneck". The guitars have a great old time bluesy sound and are fantastic fun.

The History of CBG's :- Back in the USA late 1800's in the deep South among the black African Americans, money was too tight to buy instruments. The first primitive stringed instrument and a forerunner of the slide guitar was called a Diddley Bow. It was made from a piece of baling wire tacked across the wall of the wooden shack. You plucked it and changed the pitch by sliding something hard along it, like a knife, piece of bone or glass. Moving on from that some people attempted to make a crude guitar out of whatever they could find suitable. Before long the cigar box which was usually made from cedar, (actually a great wood for guitars) was incorporated with maybe an old broom handle for the neck and strung with some wire. Usually played with a slide too. Some notable people who started out on a CBG include Jimi Hendrix, Carl Perkins, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf. Early cartoons show Micky Mouse playing one!

"Smojo" is the trade name I have given my cigar box guitars. The old black American blues songs often mentioned mojos - a sort of good luck charm, so I have called my little enterprise "smojo guitars". The name being an amalgamation of smoking and mojo. Watch this site for much more about these incredible little instruments.


Anonymous said...

Very nice. I am making one myself this weekend. Yours look great though... I don't understand why anyone would pay the prices people charge for them when they are SO much fun to make yourself. Sound great with my paintcan and bucket drumset. If you use a metal cookie tin instead of a wooden box, it sounds like a banjo!

David said...

Thanks Daniel. I made a chocolate tin guitar too, probably a picture on here somewhere of it. Any chance of seeing a picture of your CBG when finished?