Dirt Pie Cigar Box Guitars are handmade in the North of England. They are made, wherever possible, using recycled or repurposed materials. The necks are carved using offcuts of sustainable hardwoods, the nuts are cut from antique bone dominoes and the bridges are either, recycled ebony keys from long dead church organs or antique iron keys when available. I use only interesting vintage and antique cigar boxes for the body of the guitars, I also use old American licence plates when I find ones that I like. The standard model that I make consists of a box, a fourteen fret neck with position markers on the upper edge at the third, fifth, seventh, ninth and twelve fret, three strings tuned to an open "G" chord, that's G D G, a jack socket and piezo pickup, each guitar is a unique one off. Each guitar comes with a free "gunny sack" made from a recycled coffee bean sack, a glass bottleneck, a free guitar strap (see picture on "buy a guitar page) and a small instruction leaflet...
The cigar box guitar is a primitive instrument that uses an empty cigar box as a resonator. The earliest had one or two strings, modern models typically have three or more.
The earliest 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 where 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.
The great depression of the 1930's saw a resurgence of homemade musical instrument. 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 couple of wires a guitar was born