Cigar box guitars are a little known American tradition. This "lost art" and long forgotten
form of guitar construction spans back well over 150 years in our country's history. Since
the mid 1860's up to the early 1950's and well before musical instrument mass production
brought the cost down, it was quite common for poor people to make their own guitar or
banjo and even Electric guitars out of different types of cigar boxes and scavenged or
My name is John McNair, I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. I have been building
homemade guitars as a hobby since my teenage years in the mid 90's. I am fascinated by
early American history and Folk music of all types; Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Rock and
just about any form of self taught Folk music.
I guess most people are happy with the "industry standard" electric and acoustic body
styles made of rare and exotic woods. As for me I enjoy working with recycled materials
in a pursuit of an authentic Blues and Country sound that they achieve. I find it
challenging to find and use old furniture and reclaimed old growth American hardwoods
for necks and braces, not only are they much more stable woods, but they are usually
much better looking and I believe it adds a charm and character that you can't get from
the "run of the mill" at the local lumber yard.
|Look for my Trademark and super fun
3 string guitars I like to build.
They are my passion to build and play!
|I also enjoy building 4 string
Bottleneck Slide guitars,
They have a vintage tone that
is strait from the South!
Would you like to try one?
|This is where the "Blues" all started,
the American Southern Delta, a cigar box,
a stick and homemade music!
This photo is dated 1868
"George D Flynn Jr. Fall River MA"
Traditionally, cigar box guitars had only a
few strings. Most had 3 or 4 strings due to
the simple nature of being homemade.
Check out the Cigar Box Guitar Museum
online to see and learn more about the
history of these homemade guitars.
|The first Bo Diddley guitar circa 1945
now owned by Hard Rock Café
|Flash ahead almost a 100 years, early Rock pioneers were still doin' it!
Homemade is cool!
Long before the Gretch Guitar Company machine made and mass produced Bo Diddley's legendary
square guitar...Bo made his guitars himself!
He did it with his bare hands and with some simple hand tools. He made them in the true spirit of
"Americana." He never kept count but it is said that he made well between 25 and 30 homemade
square wooden guitars.
Bo with his 50's Gretch guitar, notice
that even though it was factory
made, he still added his own art and
Bo was a true Folk artist and
Bo's "Red Dog" 6 string Tube Amp Assassin
His guitars were made using recycled wood, whatever he could find, and he made them most often
simple and crude, they were after all "homemade." The nicer ones he doodled and finger painted art
on them for the individual owners whom he often "gifted" them to. The most famous one of all is
the wooden one he gave to Dick Clark after being invited to "American Bandstand" which helped
launch his career to the next level.
|If you have always played standard 6 string guitar,
I know you would love the refreshing change of playing a 4 string Bottleneck Dobro.
You should try, it's much easier and it's a blast!
Truthfully, I've never considered myself much a "guitar builder," just a ordinary guy
with a passion for music, history and art, putting them together for an original formula
for creating guitars. A craftsman so to speak?
I love to make them, it's my passion and they would pile up to the celling if I didn't do
something with them. So, here I am sharing them. This is a life long hobby I have had
and I can't keep them all, so, from time to time, I do sell them. Would you like one?
After building guitars for friends and strangers alike, I have never changed my outlook
and I am just a guy stuck in the past, but because the power of the Internet I am with
disbelief at how popular cigar box guitars have become, if this was still the 90's and
without the world wide web, being able to share this part of American history would be
all but IMPOSSIBLE!
I remember trying to meet people in Guitar clubs and organizations in small classified
adds in a Louisiana newspaper and running adds and waiting for a call!!!! Man, that was
a strange time before the Internet came along, and to now see how information is now
exchanging between person and person is mind boggeling. Now pictures of a house,
car or even cigar box guitar can be shared instantly from the other side of the planet at
the click of the mouse!
The fact that you are here on this site, I greatly appreciate your interest. You can contact
me and If you want I can send you a guitar, I build both Left and Right handed guitars
and whether you are a Blues, Country, Bluegrass, or Rock guitarist, I'm sure to have the
perfect guitar for your style. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime, or if you
want to talk on the phone send me your phone number.
If you have any questions on something you've seen on this site, contact me. Don't be
shy!!!! My wife says I can be a real chatter box sometimes, look how far you had to read
to get to this spot on this page!!!!!...sheeez.. I'm tired of typing now!....so no worries, if
you have any questions, we can email or talk on the phone, I will blabber your ear off
about how fun and creative cigar box guitars are to play!
Well, since you're here, feel free to browse the gallery of guitars for sale and viewing.
I've been making them far longer than I have been using the internet, and while it
wasn't possible for me to show you all of the guitars I've built, I've tried to select some
interesting and colorful designs to give you an idea of what I enjoy making.
As for the History Aficionado, check out the History archives on this site of American
Folk music and the Blues. I have spent many years scouring Libraries, the Internet and
basically any and everywhere for the history of the cigar box guitar. It is vast and I
have collected an array of historical photos not found anywhere else in the world.
I have seen many online art galleries and libraries and I have noticed they all were
hard to navigate because you needed to open many pages just to view one photo
after another, click n' load, click n' wait, click n' get bored. I found it to be too much
clicking and waiting, but, this website I set up much different and it allows you to
view many historic photos easily and enjoyably. I encourage you to dig deep and stay
awhile, especially if you have a child or family member interested in history. Some of
the photos are so memorable and impressionable you'll never forget them... some
will take your breath away....But no matter what, If you enjoy history, you are sure to
enjoy them, have a peek at the link further below.
email me anytime at email@example.com
Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the site!
| The oldest known Cigar Box instrument photo is handrawn art by Edwin Forbes of Union
soldiers at a Civil War encampment 1863-64.
This photo below is dated 1865 at the "Siege Of Charleston"
He writes of his story of the making of a Figora cigar box fiddle in his book of etchings
"An artist story of the Great War"
But, that doesn't mean there is not something older yet to be found, I am on the hunt!
This is the Ultimate How to Build a Cigar Box
From beginner to advanced, everything is completely
I have spent well over several hundred hours filming
and editing the most complete How to Build a cigar
box guitar DVD available. If you would like to make
your own, or would like to take your guitar building
not only to the next level but far beyond to get the
sound you have always wanted in a cigar box guitar,
I will show you how and what to do, everything is
covered from start to finish, If you would like me to
send you a copy in the mail, click here.
This DVD is from A to Z, the complete start to finish
of building cigar box guitars. Full of many secrets
that can only be found on a Red Dog Guitar...listen
to the guitars on this site and you will hear why they
have a sound that is so iconic and original. The best
part is you too can build a guitar just like the ones on
this website with this DVD.
|Everyone tells me at some point,
"cigar box guitars are just as much fun to build as to play"
If you want to try to make your own cigar box guitar, I have a DVD
that shows you everything , I will post this DVD link here
Red Dog Guitars are proudly MADE IN AMERICA.
All rights AVAILABLE, feel free to cut, copy and paste any guitars you see on this site...
be sure to tell 'em it's a Red Dog!!!
Do NOT use any photos or logos from this site to sell any products,
they are only available to use for educational purposes only
|There is 3 nagavation choices below, be sure
to check them all out,
Wait for the pages to load, there's alot of
photos on them all!