Selling Cigar Box Guitars at Festivals for Fun and Profit: Part 1 - by Shane Speal

Selling Cigar Box Guitars at Festivals for Fun and Profit: Part 1 - by Shane Speal

Would you like to sell some of the cigar box guitars you build? Want to earn a little money to support your cigar box guitar addiction?

In this post, Shane Speal shares golden nuggets of wisdom from his years of selling cigar box guitars at festivals.

Learn from each of Shane's tips to sell your own cigar box guitars at festivals or wherever you set up your vending table.

Shane's Selling Lessons

Whether I'm performing with them in Shane Speal's Snake Oil Band or just selling them at festivals and farmers' markets, my cigar box guitars provide a little extra income to my family. 

To help you earn a little extra income of your own, I'm going to teach you about building secrets, vending setups, and scoping out festivals. 

If you enjoy building these instruments as much as I do, then you can find a festival or two (or more) to sell your creations.

A few different cigar box guitars on Shane Speal's workbench

Lesson #1: Prepare Now

You should build cigar box guitars in anticipation of the festival season.

Don't wait until a week or two before the first festival.

Give yourself several weeks to build so that you don't get stressed and so that you build high-quality CBGs for which other people are happy to give you money.

My first fest starts in May, and I start preparing for it weeks in advance.

I've been to this particular festival several years in a row and know that I should be able to sell 20-35 guitars during the three-day event.

There are probably many festivals in your area that occur in June, July or August, so start building no later than April.

To make your building and efficient process, you need my biggest secret: Lesson #2...

A batch of cigar box guitar necks hanging in Shane Speal's workshop

Lesson #2: Build in Batches

If you want to optimize your time and resources, consider building guitars in 'batches' much like baking cookies.

For me, I have a particular guitar design that I developed, and that I strongly believe in.

If I keep with this design, I can prepare 5 or 6 necks at a time and then move on to boxes.

I can also wire up a bunch of piezo pickups in a separate step and keep them stored in my shop until I'm ready for them.

Building guitars in batches doesn't mean you're stifling your creativity; each one can be unique.

Instead, you'll just be optimizing your time and resources as you work on different areas of the guitar.

Bulk guitar jacks from C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply

Lesson #3: Buy in Bulk

You'll save money and always have the parts you need when you're ready for them. 

To that end, check out this article in which I share my essential bulk parts for building. 

Many of C. B. Gitty's bulk parts are sold in lots of 12, which means you can buy one of each bulk part and have enough items to create a dozen guitars for your first festival.


In this first part of a two-part series, you learned some of Shane Speal's methods to successfully sell cigar box guitars at festivals. 

The three key takeaways to focus on are:

  1. Prepare far in advance for festival season 
  2. Build your cigar box guitars in batches
  3. Buy your parts in bulk

In part two of this series, I'll talk about finding the right festivals and extras you can add for increased profits.

5th Jul 2019 Shane Speal

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