Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I just bought these vintage boxes they are back from the days when cigars were six cents... They are going to make some very interesting CBG's.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Boxes every day

A really nice vintage box that I just bought. This Dutch Masters is one of the brands my Grandfather use to smoke. I grew up with these around the house. Who knew that one day I would make a CBG from one of these boxes.

I just bought five of these Rocky Patel boxes that
I am very excited to build into CBGs. No doubt these are going to be very cool little guitars. I have been doing a bunch of shopping for boxes and have more on the way please stop back and see I one of them fits the bill for your next CBG. Angel and I will be back at the market the first of February. We look forward to seeing you then. In the meantime call if there is something special that I can build for you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Playing around with I-movie, micro cube and a drum machine

This little video illustrates that anyone can play a 3 string CBG and have a lot of fun... Not to mention take what you learn on the 3 string and move up to 6. whenever you are ready. I am playing around on the 3 string, my new Micro Cube Amp from Roland (awesome) and a Zoom MRT-3b Micro rhythm trak. Hey, did I mention these things also run on batteries? Is this a great country or what??? A little more time by myself and if I stay out of the shop I might actually get to know what I am doing..... I can only hope....Merry Christmas.... Jim

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where is Keni Lee when I need him ?

Okay so for those of you that I have not met here I am playing a build that I just completed.... Two disclaimers - don't blame Keni Lee for my playing, his lessons are fantastic and this was recorded on my mac so in real life this CBG is much warmer... Enough excuses ... Jim

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Jim's old elf workshop..

Christmas time....How wonderful...... Well I still think so however I am running around like a crazy old elf trying to make certain that last minute Christmas wishes get filled.... Fun of course I am not the one the delivers them there is a little matter of shipping times.... Here is a picture of my latest build going out west in the next couple of days....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas time

Another day at the market, and was it ever a day to remember... yes there was rain, and well, that was one thing but the wind was the knock out punch..... The poor guy next to us did not have any weights on his tent and darn near lost everything.... Gail and the team did everything they could but the elements were in complete control today and for us the market was just one real adventure.... Yes no sales and we bagged it just before 11am, better luck next time. The real question is what to do about all the canjo's that I have made... We are going to try to sneak in one more market before Christmas but if that doesn't happen we will certainly be overstocked for a while.... Such is the life of a modern-day CBG builder....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Four string resonator madness

So the quest continues.... The new four string resonator sporting binding and a tobacco road sunburst relic finish. The CBG represents the most detailed adventure into building a CBG yet, the neck is laminated oak and walnut. I used a scarf joint for the headstock and applied the classic Gibson black overlay.
I used grover tuning machines
and the neck is reinforced. I also used a barrel bolt system to attach the neck. The hand carved neck extends well into the heal. I am very happy with the results.
This little instrument has a very powerful voice and is very nice to play.

I am going to be sending this one to KLB so I am always nervous.... The deal we have is he is to pull no punches (and he doesn't) If he doesn't like it he lets me know. Well that's how I get better at making these things. You need to have someone that you trust to help evaluate the sound
and quality.. I trust KLB


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back from the market....

Well to all my new friends from the market thank you for stopping by and saying hello. As you can see the shop is a mess. Next project is going to be cleaning up from getting ready for yesterdays market. I have some new pictures that I will be posting soon so please come back and take a look. There are a couple of builds on the bench that are pretty over the top, the one in the picture is a six string suitcase resonator... more to follow. Also I am waiting on Keni Lee's newest instructional DVD Keni tells me I should have it any day. Thanks again for stopping by please leave a comment or shoot me an email to say hello. If I don't talk to you before then maybe I'll see you at the market on the 14th. Take care - Jim

If this is your first time on the blog don't forget to check out some of the video on the older posts. Jim

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One string blues......

So it's that time again and we are getting ready for the Saturday Morning Market. Last year we felt bad that we did not have something that the kids could afford.... I know that there are folks making Canjo's and we may have a few of those but aren't these the best... More to come....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Here is something a little different.... Three strings tuned D-A-D sounds like a tiny banjo. Easy to grab and go.....Spent a lot of time on the neck has a nice volute and Angel really likes the headstock design...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New four string resonator

Not much to look at.... but I'm pretty excited..... This is the glue up for the neck of the new CBG. This one has been on the drawing board in my mind for some time now. I've been planning a 4 string resonator. I expect to document the process, here is step one.... I want a slotted headstock but I still need to dial in how I am going to do the tuners, in- line four or ?????? Stay tuned ....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

3 string resonator

Well it's almost done I put the strings on her and set her up last night. I think she sounds great, I am very happy with the response the folks that have seen her have had. Keni Lee seemed very excited with the look and would like to see one as a 4 stringer. I might just make him one and build one for myself while I am at it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Well it's kind of late but when you have a day job. You have to work on CBG's when you can. I just finished installing the frets. Next step is going to be the nut and tailstock.

I really think the Bacote fingerboard with the Tiger Maple binding is going to be a show stopper. I think I am gong to use Corian for the nut and either make the tailstock or use my last hinge. My supplier moved and I have not been able to find anyone else that carries that style.

I have to say that the weight of this CBG is pretty cool. I can't wait to see if the steel in the neck has any noticeable impact on the sound. I am leaning towards adding brass corners to this model just to dress it up even more. That's all for now - Jim

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another great one from Mr. Keni Lee Burgess

Man those day jobs sure get in the way of guitar building.......

So the new build is underway ... Dobo inspired 3 string with resonator cone and cover, tiger maple binding on bocote fingerboard, sloted headstock, re-enforced neck and f-holes. I am certain there will be a few more tricks as the build continues.

Hey check out Keni Lee Burgess' he has a gig playing Time Square starting this month. I wish I was going to be able to make it. If you are in the area you ought to check him out. Oh and take a couple of bucks to throw in the hat for him. We have to support the arts... Who else will. Stay tuned......

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Morning Market and next build

Okay - well I have a new day job and I have spent a lot of time on the road now. So the blogging and building has taken a definite back seat. It's getting hot in Florida so not the best time to be in the garage building anyway. But check this out - it's an old suitcase that I am thinking might make a really interesting resonator. Crazy ?????

I have a little extra time for the holiday and I hope to be able to get started. The real question on this build is if I am going to have to take the top off to cut down on the width or if 5 3/8 " will work. I would like to hear your thoughts if you have any experience.

Angel and I had a great time at the Saturday Morning Market. Everyone was very positive when they got up close. We would hear things like, look Cigar box purses, wait a minute, what are those... are they guitars, banjos? Regardless, if you have not taken a CBG out in public it's a very cool time when you put one in someone's hands and see them smile.....

What is really fun is to see parents when you put one in their child's hands. I don't know about you but I think these are great starter instruments. First of all, they are much stouter than a conventional stringed instrument. They are smaller and fit the child better. They have fewer strings (easier to keep track of ). Everything you learn can transfer over to six strings.

But the most fun is to see a child's face once they have the CBG in their hands. Magic! So even with the new job we will be back this fall for one Saturday a month.

One word of caution if you are gong to do one of these you are going to be busy! The whole time we were talking and playing. CBG's are real attention getters and people want to know more about them. As far as sales went we did not make a sale at the market. Since my focus is to build at the higher end of the product line, I was not surprised and felt that I met my objective which was to create a buzz and to start to develop my market.

Lastly, thanks to all of our friends who made the trek to St. Pete to support the effort. You guys are the best. I am sorry that we did not get to spend as much time together as I would have liked.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Okay time for bed

Who knew? It's almost midnight and I am just finishing up. We have to leave at 6am to make it to the market and be ready for 9am. I can hear all of my art show buddies laughing already. They have lived through all the late nights getting ready for their shows, why should my little event have been different.... One thing for certain Angel has been right there all the way helping me get it done...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Working, Working ( it's great )

Getting ready for Saturday here's a few shots of my newest build that I hope to have at the Saturday Morning Market (downtown St Pete 9- 2 this Saturday)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday Morning Market / Keni Lee Burgess update

Hey Guys I know it has been a while since I have posted - I have been busy building CBG's and setting up a new working area. This next weekend is the Saturday Morning Market where Angel and I will have some of the latest builds out of the shop. The Band is going to be Urban Gypsies our new favorite local band well worth the trip. The market is open from 9 till 2 and we would love to say hello if you make it. www.saturdaymorningmarket.com

Hey Keni Lee Burgess has been very busy lately he has two new you tube videos out in the last weeks with one of the CBG's that I have built. The first one is a lesson on Baby Please Don't Go. and then there is this little ditty .

Monday, May 4, 2009

Now Playing on Youtube

Hey Gang make certain that you check out Keni Lee Burgess playing his Cigar City CBG in this fantastic video

Friday, May 1, 2009

Make Plans to see Cigar City CBGs May 16th at The Saturday Morning Market

Come out for the fun. Cigar City CBGs will participate in the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg. May 16th from 9 - 2. Angel and I had a great time last weekend just shopping and hanging out. The food was incredible, the band ( Urban Gypsies) was great and the shopping was terrific. Gail and her team have made this market a must do good time.

I have been busy building new CBGs mostly 3 strings with the cakepan resonators. I will have wine bottle slides and perhaps a couple of Cigar Box amps.... The market only runs till May 30th so if you have not been you need to check it out before it closes till the fall. Should be a great time I'll keep you posted as the day gets closer.

Lastly think about going back on the 30th, it's the last market till fall and the band will again be the Urban Gypsies. We love these guys, check them out while you can (and bring your dancing feet) .

No 11 the details

No 11.

18 fret bacote tapered fingerboard
spun resonator cone
3 ply maple padauk neck
fret position markers
Hand cut F-holesarkers

This CBG has been the most detailed build yet. Has a very big voice and is very responsive.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No 11.

Finally a true resonator cone.... As you know I have been working on variations of cigar box resonator guitars. So far I have used a tuna can with a sink drain, 4 inch cake pan with shower drain for the cover plate..... I have been pleased with the results. However, I could not resist trying a spun cone, made specifically to be used in a ukulele. Just finished up No. 11 with 18 frets Bocote fingerboard, Maple 3 piece neck on a Davidoff body and of course the spun cone . A true resonator. As expected this one has a very strong voice.....Thanks to Pat Cook for mentoring me on this build. Did I forget to mention Big Daddy's help as well... Another pioneer in the ongoing CBG movement. Thanks Darren . No. 11 will be making it's way to the website
www.cigarcitycbgs.com for more information.

Monday, April 20, 2009

website updates

Hey Gang,
Lots of action lately - I have recently completed two nice little cake pan resos. A 16 and an 18 fret model. Both are very similarly constructed and can be seen on the website as well. Thank you for your kind comments regarding the Youtube clip more to come on that front. Kathy tells me she has some more boxes for me to pick up. Very excited! Frank just sent me a couple of resonator cones. Can't wait to hear what a real cone will sound like in the next CBG.... I'll keep you posted let me know what you think.... Jim

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Now on You tube

Well now I am way outside of my comfort zone. The truth is that I know less about playing CBG's then I do about building them. That being said, I have posted a sad little video on Youtube to demonstrate a couple of things really. The obvious reason (I can't play)is so you can hear the sound from these little instruments. Also, and more importantly it demonstrates the point that Keni Lee Burgess makes in his instructional videos, you can take his principles and start to learn any song. Clearly you need to start somewhere and for me that somewhere is this simple little song....

No 9......

Hey Gang,

Here's the latest from the shop.... It's a 3 string cake pan new tricks include new headstock design. (a ton more work) Open D tuning and checkout the "thru-bod" tail piece....Open the box from the back to change strings. Thanks to everyone that has been checking out the website. Sign in and leave a comment or two. I would love to hear what you think. Or email me I'll keep you posted on whats in the shop.... Make certain you check out Keni Lee Burgess new instructional video on youtube.... Very cool.....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Good Bye No 8

So after a lot of work, in my hands I hold No 8. I have to tell you it's hard to let go of this one. But I made it for a new friend who is going to help me refine the sound of my guitars. Hopefully, soon I will have more information on that. Here is the final shot that Angel took before I went off to Postnet and shipped this little bad boy to his new home. What a fun guitar to make and play. I am dialing in some basic design parameters that I use on my CBG's. Now I am looking forward to the next build, I really want to hear how it sounds. If I can create consistency, than I hope to be able to control the sound within the scope of the instrument and the materials used for construction, and work with the player to provide that sound they are looking for in their quest for their own mojo. More about that in the future.. For now it's back in the shop.......

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No 8

Okay here are the updated shots on the latest build....

As you can see it's a wood box, not paper. (I think Kathy found this one at the cigar shop by her house. I really appreciate her getting these for me. I think it almost kills her to go into those
shops because of the smoke. Not to mention the fact that she is a nursing student that lost her (our) father to lung cancer. But she's a trooper and always comes up with nice boxes. Thanks sis....) Anyway back to the build, 4" cake pan with shower drain screen floating in the pan along with a floating bridge. One of the key points on my CBG's is that the bridge is floating. Owners are going to need to keep in mind the approximate location of the bridge when they change strings. If you want to dial it in totally just use your tuner. Tune the note open and then tune again, fretting at the 12th fret... unless you have perfect pitch. (In that case, CBG's may not be your cup of tea.) Remember these are lo-tech instruments that promote "close is good 'nuff"... The neck is 18 frets on a Padauk finger board with Maple fret markers and black position dots. I am very happy with this neck... The wood top gives this CBG a warm acoustic feel and it plays great...The action is low and really requires a controlled hand when you are playing slide. The back of the guitar features one of my favorite features - the 5 piece laminated neck; Mahogany, Black, Maple, Black and Mahogany. It is capped at the heal with Black and Spalted Maple.

I could not be happier with how the carving on the neck turned out... I think this neck is my best effort yet, very elegant and really nice to play. I will admit that the nut gave me trouble. I had to make two of them. The first one was a little short and created a buzz on the first couple of frets. Hey, for my money, I 'd rather make a new nut than file and polish frets.... One of the other nice touches on this fiddle is that the bridge is laminated like the neck and just looks great sitting proudly on the cover of this one-of-a-kind hand crafted Cigar Box Guitar....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Putting a lot into this build really want something that someone will treasure....

The Heal cap is from a maple tree that was in the yard of the house I grew up in... I have been saving that wood for only the most special projects.

Thanks for keeping up with the build... Shouldn't be much longer....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Laminating the neck one ply at a time...

Evaluation build.

Well I have started the next build... Solid wood box doing another cake pan. I am planning on sending this one to Keni Lee Burgess for evaluation.... I really want his input for playability and sound. Starting out with a nice simple solid box.

Next I routed cutouts for the cake pan and drain screen sound holes.

Here you can see the reinforcement used for the bolt on neck and support...

Pretty much what you see is what you get.... This set provides an interesting combination of banjo and resonator sounds.

I am planning on a 5 piece neck (Mahogany,Black, Maple, Black and Mahogany)

Friday, March 27, 2009


Hey Now..... Cigar City CBG's is going to be at the Ybor Market more details to follow....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I have been busy working on building some very cool little instruments, Cigar Box Guitars. I wanted to start this blog as a place to share the experience by providing updates with current builds and upcoming events/news...... Please do take the time to comment. I am looking forward to hearing from you.