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SKU 9463

Making Poor Man's Guitars

Cigar Box Guitars, the Frying Pan Banjo, and Other DIY Instruments
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$19.99 USD
Regular price
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$19.99 USD
Product Type: Paperback / softback


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Many books have been written about how to build cigar box guitars and other unique hand-made instruments. but few have touched on why. This book presents the authentic stories of American DIY music with step-by-step projects, photo studies of antique instruments, interviews with music legends, and historical accounts. Shane Speal, the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar," brings the making of music and musical instruments back to its roots. From a simple two-string tin can guitar to an electrified washtub bass, Shane shows how anyone can build amazing musical instruments from found items. Sidebars present the fascinating backstory of the music, capturing struggle, poverty and the blues within the artistic side of cigar box guitar building. Featuring an introduction from the New Orleans Museum of Jazz, this DIY musical instrument book is as inspirational to read in the living room as it is in the workshop.


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Pages 176
Publish Date 2018-10-09
Size 8.0" x 10.0" x 0.41"
Author Shane Speal


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Publishers Weekly
Musician Speal shares his decades of experience in building, playing, and customizing classic DIY instruments in this delightful guide. It was hearing Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" that caused him to abandon his beloved thrash metal and punk, and go down a bluesy rabbit hole, eventually leading to cigar box guitars. Readers will learn not only how to assemble and play the basic three-string model, but how to customize it, whether by making sound holes using furnace grates, adding text to the neck with a woodburning tool, or installing an electrical pickup. Ideas for further customization, such as using a paint-can lid for an even more distinct tone, are also detailed, as are descriptions of additional DIY stringed instruments like a one-stringed violin, electric stand-up washtub bass, and even a microphone made out of a beer can, all accompanied by clear instructions, shopping lists, and plenty of helpful photos. Speal makes no pretense of having discovered the cigar box guitar all by himself, citing numerous articles and anecdotes that testify to the instrument's well-established place in American music history. His passion for and obvious love of his instrument of choice shines through in this terrific study.
Cleveland Public Library
Anyone interested in folk music and old time music should pick up this book! It's crazy fun!
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
This delightful book by Blues musician Shane Speal not only contains detailed instructions for how to make your own cigar box guitar, but wonderful stories about the Blues musicians that Speal has played with during his career and their handmade instruments. Speal carefully explains the why and how these instruments work, in spite of being made of inexpensive, common materials. Want to make an electric instrument? Speal also includes a section on electric guitars. The book has many crisp, clear photographs to guide interested crafters. A must-buy for public libraries that host MakerSpaces.
Bass Musician Magazine
With each story, readers will discover the magic of the DIY music movement.
With the stunning imagery, great stories, and Speal's accompanying YouTube videos, falling in love with cigar box guitars isn't hard to do.


About the Author

Shane Speal is a musician, historian and instrument builder, self-proclaimed as the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and recognized as the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. He is the creator of, a network and history site for cigar box guitars. Shane has recorded more than 10 self-released cigar box guitar albums, and publishes Uncle Enos zine, dedicated to cigar box guitars and other primal poverty art/music.

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