It began in a small, structurally unsound workshop in the heart of Bristol when Tom and Pat were inspired to design and build a stringed instrument that was steeped in tradition, yet quirky and enjoyable to play. The grand-daddies of the delta blues founded the movement on homemade instruments, and thus spawned ‘the blues’ from a time(s) of hardship and economic depression. Blind Willie Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimi Hendrix, Hound Dog Taylor, Big Bill Broonzy are to name a few of the old time players, whilst today Sea Sick Steve, Jack White and Johnny Depp still keep the cigar box guitar tradition alive.
A cigar box guitar strips your playing back to the bare bones and there is a wealth of tunings to try – we strongly recommend experimenting with ‘open tunings’. Open tunings remove intricate and difficult chords structures and focus emphasis on your rhythm and melody – the way blues was meant. D, D-minor, G, G6, C6, E5…. There are many to try and each will give you a slightly different feel whether your preference is Delta, Hawaiian, Old Time, Rag Time, Boogie-Woogie, Roots, Hobo – the limit is your depth of experimentation. With a cigar box guitar the fundamentals of blues, rock’n’roll and folk are made easy and a ‘CBG’ combined with a bottle-slide will open a new musical door for you. But don’t be fooled – these little beasts, simplified guitars though they are, should not be under estimated.
Tom was born and bred in Bristol’s Easton district, which back in 2001 was given the distinct and notable honor of being one of the most deprived areas in Britain. So after studying an English Literature degree he entered the world of work with a book of verse in his breast pocket and a hazy romantic outlook. A short spell working for a joiner encouraged him to set up his own workshop and he began crafting bespoke furniture and installing custom catflaps for local senior citizens. So Toms background really lies in fine furniture design - so ‘naturally’ he fit right into building guitars and understanding the behavior of timber and the properties specific woods. “The beauty of owning one of our guitars it that no two are exactly the same, essentially the models we currently offer are each based on specific scales and dimensions that we’ve chosen, the different all lies in the detail. Certain aspects of our guitars are standardised, but this is so every one is joy to play once finished and of a quality we are satisfied with. For example, the timbers used in the neck and the thickness of the timber bindings, the mother-or-pearl fretboard inlays and their order/style, the profile of the neck, the shape of the headstock, the sound holes etc. Honestly. no two are identical - and this is what keeps what we do exciting and fresh. - the difference is all in the detail. All this craftsmanship, crude in essence but fine in design - and your own authentic article of music history without the huge price tag.”
Pat’s was born and grew up in North London and after several ‘lost’ years and a string of menial jobs he decided to settle himself in drizzly old Bristol. Pats background is in visual design be it digital or physical, and he has long standing history with musical instruments and blues music. “I grew up to my mum playing old records from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s - so slide guitar, bottle-slide blues and folk is something I had an infatuation with since I could walk or smash the strings of a steel guitar, - in fact not much has changed when it comes to playing. Listening to people like Son House or Leadbelly and the way they played or at least tried to, and all those incredible players that Alan Lomax found again in the backwaters of the delta for the world to appreciate. And then the electric guitar and people like Howlin Wolf and Hubert Sumlin and everything that spawned from those who took-over the blues flame and cranked the tempo up, electrifying things. These guys being impoverished as they were, learned to play on home-made guitars, namely Cigar Box Guitars and look how they changed music forever - there is an unrivalled magic in this crude (at least on appearances) instrument.”