Perfectly Imperfect: The Renaissance of Cigar Box Guitars

The cigar box guitar was an invention of poor musicians during the mid-1800s, but recently there’s been a renaissance.

By Hady MawajdehDecember 5, 2016 9:27 am| , , , ,

From KERA:

In downtown McKinney, Kevin Edwards is cutting into a long and narrow piece of wood inside his music shop. The sound of his handsaw moving back and forth across the wood fills the room with sound as a cardboard cutout of film star John Wayne keeps a watchful eye over the work being done at a work station in front of him.

The shop is called Guitar Gallery on the Square. It’s small and quaint, the sort of small music shop that only seems to exist in books or movies. There’s an old record player in the corner and guitars hanging on the wall. Edwards uses them to teach lessons. But when he’s not teaching, Edwards crafts cigar box guitars.

“I like to cut freehand,” Edwards says keeping his eyes focused on a piece of wood in front of him. “Perfection is unobtainable, so freehand makes things more fun.”

He got the idea to start building cigar box guitars a few years back. He was on vacation in Florida and spotted a busker performing with one: “Street performers are known for having interesting instruments and when I saw the guitar, I was drawn to it instantly. It was pretty cool, being a guitar player myself, so I started researching them online, then started building my own. And then I just kept at it.”

Edwards has made and sold more than 100 guitars since then. He sells them for $150 a pop — a bargain, considering you can find them for as much as $2000 online. But it’s also ironic because at one time these homemade guitars were a poor man’s instrument. Now you can spot stars like Billy Gibbons, Chris Cornell and Keith Richards playing them.

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