Cigar Box Guitars in Popular Music

Cigar Box Guitars in Popular Music

Cigar box guitars have a long and storied history in popular music, and they have been used by a wide variety of musicians over the years. One of the most famous musicians known to have started on a cigar box guitar was Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was a groundbreaking blues and rock musician who rose to fame in the 1960s and is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Despite his later fame and success, Hendrix came from humble roots and built himself a cigar box guitar to play before he was able to get his hands on a conventional guitar. As John Lee Hooker once sang, the music was in him, and it had to come out.

Homemade instruments like cigar box guitars have played a significant role in the development of the Blues, and many of the "founding fathers" of the blues got their start on homemade guitars and cigar box guitars, including Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and more. These instruments were often the only option available to poor musicians, and they helped to create the raw, distinctive sound that is characteristic of the blues.

Another famous musician who used (and still uses) cigar box guitars is Jack White of the White Stripes. White is known for his love of unconventional instruments, and he has used a variety of homemade instruments in his music, including a cigar box guitar and diddley bows. In fact, White builds and plays a diddley bow in the film documentary "It Might Get Loud", to an audience of cows in a pasture. The raw, homemade sound of the homemade instrument lends a unique character to the song, and it has become one of the band's most iconic tracks.

Other musicians who have used cigar box guitars in their music include Seasick Steve, Johnny Winter, Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, the Zac Brown Band,  and the Black Keys, among many others. The distinctive sound of the cigar box guitar has made it a popular choice for blues, roots, and rock musicians, and it continues to be a popular instrument today. Whether you're a fan of genres like Blues and Rock & Roll or individual performers like Lead Belly or the White Stripes, there's no denying the influence that cigar box guitars have had on popular music.

9th Jan 2023 Ben "Gitty" Baker

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