The do-it-yourself instrument is described as a simple stringed instrument made out of a cigar box and it can be made with three, sometimes four, or even occasionally six strings like a regular guitar. It uses the empty cigar box as a resonator.
Jeff Mello, the Cigar Box Guitar Store owner, showed News 19 a cigar box guitar that only had three strings and discussed the simplicity of the instrument.
“So, one of the wonderful things about cigar box guitars is they are so simple to play,” Mello said. “Notice that it only has three strings and they are tuned open G.”
Some people say that because of the low number of strings and the way they’re built, the instrument is easy to learn to play and it can be used to play a number of different genres, including Mello.
“So, when I strum it, I get a G chord I don’t even have to do anything with my left hand. But for folks that have never played an instrument before, the threshold to make familiar sounds out of these is very low,” Mello said. “If you are a six-string player, still a lot of fun to play, you can put a slide on, be more creative, and think outside of the standard tuning of a guitar.”
The kick-off for the 19th annual Cigar Box Festival is slated for Friday, June 2, at Salty Nut Brewery. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and anyone who plans to attend is encouraged to bring a chair. A $10 donation is also suggested at the Triple Threat Blues Concert.
On Saturday, June 3, the festival will continue at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. There will be activities for the kids, and again, chairs are encouraged. Parking and admission are free.
One of the activities for kids that will be available on Saturday afternoon is building instruments out of recycled materials and playing them. Mello said it’s fun to get the kids to participate.
“Another great thing is bringing kids together and getting them excited about music, letting them build instruments, play those instruments, and participate with live bands,” Mello said.
There will also be a fundraiser to support music in schools.
“All of the events for the festival are free,” explained Tara Mello, Cigar Box Guitar co-owner. “We’re of course accepting and encouraging donations, especially on Friday night at [the] Triple Threat Blues Concert.”
Cigar Box Guitar is a business located in Lowe Mill. Mello says she and her husband Jeff Mello will also be fundraising through the sale of merchandise, which includes festival T-shirts. Jeff also built 10 limited-edition cigar box guitars. Number one of the series will be given out for free at the event on Saturday night.
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“The other nine we will be selling with all of the proceeds going [to] charity. We’ll have those available at the festival,” Tara said.
All locations have indoor options in the event of inclement weather. To learn more about the festival, go to the Cigar Box Guitar Festival Website.