dirt pie cigar box guitars
The cigar box guitar is a primitive instrument that uses an empty cigar box as a resonator. Some of the earlier guitars typically had one or two strings, more recent ones have three or more.
The oldest known illustration of a cigar box instrument is an etching copyrighted in 1876 of two American civil war soldiers at a campsite, one of whom is playing a cigar box fiddle.
Plans for a cigar box banjo were published in 1884 in an American comic called Uncle Eno's. It showed a step by step description of a playable, five string fretless banjo made from a cigar box. Cigar box guitars and fiddles were important in the rise of jug bands and the blues, often used alongside the washtub bass, jug, washboard and harmonica. As most of these performers were dirt poor Americans many could not afford a real instrument and
the great depression of the 1930's saw a resurgence in the playing of homemade musical instruments.
Times were hard in the American south and musical instruments were beyond the means of most people, but with an old cigar box, a piece of broom handle and a length of baling wire a guitar was born.
Before you get to grips with playing your cigar box guitar (CGB) it's important that you have it supported on a strap at a comfortable height, leaving your hands free to play. The guitar strings are the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings from an ordinary set of medium guitar strings, tune the strings to G, D & G. using either a digital tuner ( a snark or a planet waves clip on are good) or download a phone app type tuner, you might have to tune a few times when the guitar is new because the strings stretch a bit till they settle down, once you are in tune strum all the strings together, you are now playing the chord of G, if you then barre ( press down all three strings on the same fret) on the 5th fret you will be playing the chord of C, do the same on the 7th and you will be playing the chord of D, you have now mastered the 3 chord trick, the basis of lots and lots of songs and, crucially, the 12 bar blues. If you scroll back up a bit you'll find a chart with more chord shapes, the dots are where you put your fingers, don't worry if you can't manage them all, some of them are more or less impossible!!.
A lot of the old bluesmen played their home made CBG's with a bottleneck slide, you should have got a basic one with your Dirt Pie Guitar, however, if you take a liking to playing in this style, do yourself a favour and check out @diamondbottlenecks these are the best slides you can get, check out the picture above of some of their works of art, give Ian a ring and tell him what you want, he'll sort you out.