Cigar Box Guitar Ultimate Buying Guide

If you want to branch out in your playing and are looking for an interesting new instrument to master, you should consider investing in a string cigar box guitar. These fun and iconic guitars are an Americana icon, fantastic for improvising, and produce a great classic sound!

But before you get started buying, you need to take the time to make sure you know what you are looking for! Our detailed breakdown will tell you everything you need to know to make sure you buy the best cigar box guitar for you.

What is a Cigar Box Guitar?

A cigar box guitar is a classic folk string instrument traditionally made up of a simple chordophone neck and a cigar box that acts as a resonator. There is evidence that these classic American instruments date back to the 1850s and 60s, and an 1876 etching shows a civil war soldier playing the instrument at a campsite.

Famous cigar box players include Bo Diddley, Luther Dickinson, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame.

Nowadays, you can pick up professionally constructed versions of a traditional 3-string cigar box guitar at an affordable price and with expert construction.

These are fun and charming instruments to own and are very easy to play! Because of this, they are an excellent option if you want to start learning how to play guitar with a slide.

What to Look for When Buying the Best Cigar Box Guitar?

When you start looking for the best cigar box guitar, price should not be your only concern. When choosing your instrument, there are several factors to consider when making sure that you are picking the instrument that is the best fit for you.

You will need to factor in the size of the instrument, how easy it will be to play, and how many strings you want on the instrument. Think about how you want to play, and which design details will help to support this. Remember not to rush your decision in all the excitement and that you are getting the best value for your money when you are picking your guitar.

To get started, take a look at our ultimate guide to buying a cigar box guitar below and make sure that you have a clear idea of what you are looking for before you buy.

Remember it’s Not All About Appearance!

When looking for the best cigar box guitar, you should remember that if the instrument has a great appearance, it doesn’t automatically follow that it plays well!

However, you may still have some preferences when it comes to your guitar cigar box. You may want a classic look with a guitar neck that matches the box body. Some guitar options feature colored details or you may prefer a plainer option that features no logos or embellishments at all.

Remember, even if you can’t find a guitar appearance that suits your taste, you can always decorate and add stickers to it later on. Your goal is to find the best cigar box guitar to play, appearance shouldn’t outweigh this in your decision-making process!

Should You Choose a 4 or 3-String Cigar Box Guitar?

Although there are both 3 and 4-string guitars available, the majority of chords and tabs you’ll learn are better suited to a three-string instrument. So, if you are a beginner, this means that a 3-string is probably the best choice.

What Size Guitar Will Be Most Comfortable for You?

Another key decision to make when thinking about the best cigar box guitar for you is the size of the instrument. You need to pick the best size to allow you to hold the guitar comfortably while you play.

When you buy a cigar box guitar, you will find that they are described in scale length. The smaller the instrument, the lighter the sound it will produce. A longer scale will produce a deeper sound, but you may find it difficult to play if you have smaller hands.

Here is a breakdown of the scale lengths for a guitar cigar box to help you make your decision:

  • 13-22 inches. Suitable for children or those who have very petite hands.
  • 22-24 inches. Suitable for small hands and string bending.
  • 24-26 inches. A good range for most guitar cigar box players.
  • Over 26 inches. A larger instrument with a loud sound that some smaller players may struggle with.

How Comfortable Will the Guitar Cigar Box Be To Play?

Cigar Box Guitars are incredibly fun to play, but that won’t be the case if you pick a design that isn’t designed for maximum comfort and playability.

A stylishly distressed guitar won’t be all that fun to strum on if you struggle to run your hands up and down the neck without meeting resistance from the surface of the wood!

Does the Guitar Cigar Box Have Rounded Corners?

You should also think about how sharp the edges are on the guitar cigar box. You might prefer to pick an instrument with rounded corners, rather than one with sharp edges that dig into you while you play.

Should You Buy a Cigar Box Guitar with a Polished Finish?

You might prefer to go for a wood cigar box with a polished finish. This will make sure that the instrument is smooth to the touch and will make for easier playing while you learn.

How Thick is the Neck of The Cigar Box Guitar?

If you are going to feel comfortable playing a cigar box guitar, you will need to make sure that the neck is not too wide or square to fit in your hand comfortably. If you struggle to wrap your fingers around the neck, you will start to feel discomfort in your hand after playing for a little while.

Do You Want a Fretless or Fretted Cigar Box Guitar?

A cigar box guitar can come with either a fretted or fretless neck and your choice will depend upon how you prefer to play.

  • A fretless cigar box guitar is usually played using a slide.
  • A cigar box with a fretted neck is designed to be played with fingers, or with fingers and a slide.

When choosing a guitar cigar box with a fretted neck you need to make sure that the frets are positioned so that you can comfortably place your fingers on the strings but are not placed so low that they buzz while you play.

Summary: Your Ultimate Guide to Buy a Cigar Box Guitar

Investing in a high-quality cigar box guitar is a great way to enhance your guitar-playing experience and branch out from your regular instruments. When you start playing a guitar cigar box model, you will be taking part in a great American musical tradition, and you’ll find they are incredibly fun to play!

But before you choose your instrument, you should make sure to take a look at our guide to buying a cigar box guitar above. Make a list of what you want for your instrument before you begin, and you will be able to make sure that you end up with the instrument which is the best fit for your size and style of playing.

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