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The Depression Era Gangster Series

The Depression Era during the 1930’s was a time of opportunity for criminal activity.  Bootlegging, robbing banks, loan-sharking, and even murder were common with the criminal element while the rest of the country was mired in poverty and unemployment. 

This series of Cigar Box Guitar pays homage to those colourful figures that made the “public enemy” list during the Dirty Thirties!  Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and others were seen as “outlaw heroes” to the masses who had become disillusioned and had lost confidence in their government.  

Love ’em or hate ’em….they are part of history and their memory lives on as the most notorious gangsters of the decade.

Al Capone

“Al Capone” is number one in the Series and arguably the most famous Gangster in America!

Alphonse Gabriel Capone, sometimes known by the nickname “Scarface”, was an American Gangster and businessman who attained notoriety during the Prohibition Era as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit.  His 7 year reign as a crime boss ended when he went to prison at the age of 33.

This guitar is a fully fretted, 3 string electric guitar set up on a 25.5″ scale and is currently tuned to an open G.  The guitar has been painted and distressed to appear well worn and played often. The neck is Red Oak and the fretboard is Big Leaf Maple.

Im sure old Scarface would have loved this one!!

Sold to Michelle

Bonnie

“Bonnie” is the 2nd in the Gangster series and is the better half of Bonnie and Clyde, that infamous bank robbing duo from the South.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was half of the American criminal couple who travelled around the Central US with their gang during the Great Depression.  They were known for their bank robberies, although they preferred to rob small stores and rural gas stations.  their exploits captured the attention of the American press and its readership during what is occasionally referred to as the “public enemy era” between 1931-1934.  They are believed to have murdered at least nine police officers and four civilians.  They were killed in May 1934 during n ambush by police near Gibsland, Louisiana.

Bonnie features a crackled paint finish that is reminiscent of items seen during the Depression.  The creamy topcoat has worn away and revealed the reddish undercoat in areas.  The neck is made from Maple and the fretboard is a highly figured piece of Black Walnut.  Bonnie is a fully electric, 3 string slide guitar.  She has low action and can be played fingerboard style or with a slide. She’s tuned to an open G chord and is a lot of fun to play!

Sold to Ray

Clyde

“Clyde” is number 3 in the Gangster series which should be no surprise.

As the other half of the infamous crime couple, Bonnie & Clyde, Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born into a poor Texas family and began his life of crime at an early age.  In 1930 he met Bonnie Parker and the couple and their affiliated gang went on a two year crime spree that spanned several States. Eventually they met their demise in a police ambush on May 23, 1934 in Louisiana.

Clyde (like Bonnie) is a fully electric 3 string slide guitar.  He is tuned to an open G and has low action suitable for fingerboard style of play or with a slide.  He has a Black Walnut neck with a Black Walnut fretboard that sandwiches a contrasting piece of clear Maple between them.  The weathered finish is crackled and aged with worn areas showing the dark undercoat beneath the buttermilk topcoat.  This guitar is exactly what you would expect to find hanging in a deserted barn somewhere in the Midwest but with a modern twist! 

Sold to Marco

Pretty Boy Floyd

I mean, who hasn’t heard of “Pretty Boy Floyd”!!  He is number 4 in the series.

Charles Arthur Floyd nicknamed Pretty Boy Floyd was an American bank robber who operated in the West and Central States.  His criminal exploits gained widespread press coverage during the 1930’s.  Floyd was seen positively by the public because during his bank robberies he burned mortgage documents, freeing people from debt.  He was pursued and eventually killed by a group of Bureau of Investigation agents (later to become the FBI).

Pretty Boy Floyd makes a pretty nice guitar!  He follows the same theme as the previous releases with a well worn painted finish.  This one features a black topcoat over a copper base coat. The tailpiece is a copper hinge, the pickup cover and control knobs are aged copper, and there is a really ornate antiqued copper door handle as part of the bridge assembly.  

The neck is Red Oak with a Black Walnut fretboard.  He is a fully fretted, 3 string electric guitar tuned to an open G chord.  A ‘zero fret’ replaces the traditional nut on this guitar and it makes for excellent intonation.  This really is a “pretty’ guitar!!

Sold to Harvey

John Dillinger

“John Dillinger” was at the top of the Public Enemy list with the FBI in the 1930’s.  He is number 5 in the series.

John Herbert Dillinger was an American Gangster during the Great Depression.  His gang was accused of robbing 24 banks and 4 police stations.  He was imprisoned several times but escaped twice.  Dillinger died in Chicago in 1934 as he was exiting the Biograph Theater when he was gunned down by members of law enforcement.

“Dillinger” the guitar is another classic looking 1930’s era cigar box guitar.  It looks old and worn and has a crackled paint finish, just like you would find it in any gangster hideout!  The neck is Red Oak and the fretboard is English Walnut.  The black/brass accent pieces give it a weathered look.  A single f-hole adorns the guitar top.

Dillinger is a fully fretted, fully electric, 3 string guitar.  He is set up on a 25.5″ scale and is open tuned to a G chord.  The zero fret system that replaces the nut allows for low action, great intonation, and easy playability. 

A really great guitar!

Sold to Maria & Bryan

Machine Gun Kelly

“Machine Gun Kelly” is one of the coolest guitars in this series.  He is number 6.

George Kelly Barnes was better known by his pseudonym “Machine Gun Kelly”.  His nickname came from his favourite weapon, a Thompson machine gun.  Kelly is best known for his kidnapping of oil tycoon and businessman Charles Urschel in 1933.  He and his gang collected a $200,000 ransom which is about $4 million in today’s dollars.  Kelly was eventually arrested and sent to prison where he died from a heart attack in 1959.

Machine Gun has a few details that stand out and reflect his criminal life.  The paint job on the guitar is typical of the era with crackled paint and a worn finish.  The parchment paint colour is used for highlights on the hinge tailpiece, control knobs, pickup cover, and carrying handle.  Instead of a traditional f-hole, Kelly has a series of “bullet holes” for acoustic sound.  The bridge is a brass cartridge and the fret markers are marked with shell casings. The neck is made from Maple and the fretboard from English Walnut.

Kelly is a fully fretted, 3 string electric set up on a 25.5″ scale.  He is open tuned to a G chord.  The action is low and the intonation is great which makes this a very enjoyable guitar to play.

Machine Gun Kelly is as unique as the man its name after!

Sold to Vince