The National Cigar Box Guitar Museum
Location: Located in York, PA, inside the historic Central Market House. Space has been donated by the soon-to-be-opened ANIMAL FARM MICROBREWERY AND RESTAURANT.
Opening: Spring 2004
Curator: Shane W. Speal Sr.
Info : The museum exhibit will showcase the smallest niche in music history…the great CIGAR BOX GUITAR.
On display will be many different cigar box guitars, banjos, ukuleles and violins…including a cigar box fiddle dated 1889! Also on display will be “how to” plans from 1882, 1912 and 1949.
Each instrument tells a story and you’ll be able to read about each one. It’s akin to finding the reception desk of the instrument and finding directions that tells its story and the story of the music that followed. See pictures of musicians playing cigar box guitars. Read about Jimi Hendrix’ first instrument and Blind Willie Johnson’s 1-string.
The first museum dedicated to the humble cigar box guitar.
We have gathered the facts & legends, pictures & players and stories that span over 150 years.
The cigar box guitar is the symbol of true resilience.
Countless numbers of these contraptions were created by children and adults alike when money was scarce but passion for music was overflowing. The used wood boxes, broom handles, screen wire, and whatever else they could find from leftover desk parts to materials found on the side of the road to create their instruments.
And many of these curious guitar builders became blues and rock stars. Rock ‘n roll pioneer Carl Perkins reminisced about his childhood cigar box guitar that he made with a box, stick and baling wire. Years later, he would take the knowledge he first learned on that down-home axe to create “Blue Suede Shoes.”
Blind Willie Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Christian; they’re just three more examples. Of Charlie Christian, a schoolmate said: “[Charlie] would amaze us at school with his first guitar – one that he made with a cigar box. He would be playing his own riffs…but they were based on sophisticated chords and progressions that Blind Lemon Jefferson never knew.”
-Ralph Ellison, schoolmate of Charlie Christian
This website has been created to give the cigar box guitar a home in music history. Everything is presented ‘magazine-style’ with articles, pictures, sidebars and factual snippets. There’s a whole lotta things to click and many pages to see!
… have fun looking around.
So I went ahead and made me a guitar. I got me a cigar box, I cut me a round hole in the middle of it, take me a little piece of plank, nailed it onto that cigar box, and I got me some screen wire and I made me a bridge back there and raised it up high enough that it would sound inside that little box, and got me a tune out of it. I kept my tune and I played from then on.
— Lightnin’ Hopkins