The Popularity of Cigar Box Guitars is on the Rise

It’s amazing what people can create with a few pieces of trash. The cigar box guitar is a uniquely American instrument that dates to the mid-1800s. Performers who could not afford "real" instruments originally made these guitars with discarded cigar boxes, pieces of wood, a violin headstock, and violin, banjo, or guitar strings. Today, you can find plenty of affordable cigar box guitars for sale that are well built with quality materials, and there are plenty of these classic cigar box guitars for sale on eBay.

Some features of a 3-string cigar box guitar

The unmistakable characteristic of this guitar is the square or rectangle cigar box body. You can still find a new or preowned cigar box guitar for sale that is made with a wooden cigar box or at least something that resembles a cigar box. The fretboard traditionally extends through the cigar box and extends out a couple of inches on the other end. You can purchase a 3-string cigar box guitar for sale where the fretboard does not go all the way through the box. Instead, the fretboard is attached to the box on one end without going through the box. You can also find a cigar box-style electric guitar that allows you to add more volume and distortion to your playing.

How is a 3-string cigar box guitar tuned?

A 3-string cigar box guitar can be tuned in different ways depending on the type of music you are playing and the type of sound you want to produce. These are some of the common tunings going from the bottom string (the string closest to your chin), the middle string, to the high string:

  • Standard tuning - E-B-E
  • Guitar tuning - Tune the bottom E string in the standard tuning up to G to get G-B-E. G-B-E represents the upper three strings on a traditional guitar.
  • Open chord tuning - An open chord tuning means when you strum your cigar box guitar, it will produce a chord sound. Common open chord tunings include the G-chord tuning G-D-G, B-chord tuning F#-B-D#, and the A-chord tuning A-E-A.
  • Jazz tuning - A-E-G
  • Hawaiian tuning - A-E-F#
How popular are cigar box guitars?

These guitars have been growing in popularity over the past 10 to 15 years for a couple of reasons. First, these guitars are easy to learn how to play. There are many songs that you can play by only using one finger on the fretboard. Second, many musicians enjoy playing old-time blues and traditional American music. Several cigar box music festivals occur each year around the country. One of the largest music festivals is the Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza in Huntsville, Alabama, where players from around the U.S. give performances and participate in workshops.