The Cigar Box Guitar is a primitive chordophone that uses an empty cigar box as a resonator. The earliest had 1 or 2 strings. Generally, cigars were packed in boxes, crates, and barrels as early as 1800, but the small boxes that we are familiar with today did not exist prior to around 1840. Until then they were shipped in packages of 100.
Trace evidence of a cigar box instruments an etching..copyrighted in 1876 of 2 American Civil War soldiers at a camp site, 1 of whom is playing a cigar box fiddle. In the etching the fiddle clearly shown the brand "FIGARO" on the cigar box.
It would seem that the earliest cigar box instruments would be crude and primitive, but this was not always the case.
Cigar box guitars and fiddles were also important in the rise of JUG BANDS and the Blues. As most of these performers were black Americans living in poverty, many of the could not afford a real instrument. Using these along with a washtub base, a jug, a washtub and harmonica black musicians performed blues during socializations.
The Great Depression of the 1930's saw a resurgence of home made musical instruments. Times were hard in the American south and siting on the front porch singing away the Blues was a popular past time. Musical instruments were beyond the means of most people, but with an old cigar box and a couple of wires from a screen door and a broomstick, an instrument was born.
A modern revival of these instruments (The cigar box guitar revolution) has been gathering momentum with the increase in the number of builders and performers.
Many modern cigar box luthiers can be seen as practitioners of a type and implement various personal touches such as electric pick ups and resonators. COTTIN PICKIN BLUES being one of the leaders in artistic creativity while offering a quality instrument.