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The Vintage Series

The Cigar Box Guitar has a long and colourful history with roots going all the way back to the 1840’s. These often crude and primitive instruments were created through necessity as the poor people who built them couldn’t afford “real” instruments.

The “Vintage Series” is my personal tribute to those early makers of Cigar Box Guitars. These limited edition guitars, although outfitted with electric components and modern tuners, are specially created to look old and worn as if from many years of playing music on a front porch, around a campfire, or while riding the rails across the country.

NOTE: This series of guitar sells quickly!!!  This page will be updated often.  Guitars that have sold will be removed and new guitars added as they become available.

AB31

“AB31” is quite simply a 1931 Alberta License Plate Guitar.

The beauty of a vintage license plate from nearly 100 years ago is one thing, but when it becomes a fully functional piece of art, then that is something special!!

My “Vintage Series” guitars page wouldn’t be complete without a License Plate Guitar from the Great Depression so I decided this was the perfect one to start with.  I wanted this guitar to look old, worn, and well played and I think it worked!  

The guitar body is made from local Yellow cedar with a Sitka Spruce back.  The neck is made from Maple and the fretboard is locally sourced Flame Maple which is stunning to look at!!  The box was painstakingly painted using an aging technique that produces a worn and dirty looking finish. Certainly worth the time and effort as the results are incredible.  The vintage style Tulip Head tuners are perfect for this guitar and have been artificially aged to match the design.  In fact, almost everything has been “aged” to look period correct.  Everything from the nickel scallop door hinge tailpiece to the volume/tone controls made from old car radio knobs and buttons. The most interesting addition is the leather suitcase handle that has been wrapped in thread to keep it together (priceless)!

“AB31″ is a fully fretted, fully electric guitar tuned to an open G.  With low action and great intonation, this 25-1/2” scale guitar has a nice, full sound from the humbucker style pickup. The floating bridge is an exclusive addition from 61 Nickel Guitars and is fully adjustable for string height.  A very cool option.

This guitar is going to make someone very happy……

$600

SK39

“SK39” is a vintage license plate from the Province of Saskatchewan in the year 1939.

Originally a nice orange colour, this plate had seen better days.  However, for my purposes, it was just about perfect.  It came to me in terrible condition and required some time on the anvil with a hammer before it was even usable for a guitar. The patina has been building up for over 80 years on this plate and I didn’t want to lose it.  I decided to match the guitar body and neck to the plate colour palette.  Multiple coats of different coloured paints were used to get the burnt orange and rusty colour to match. (See photo of headstock versus plate). The results were perfect!!  This guitar looks like it was just discovered in a barn somewhere east of Moose Jaw!!

The neck is Maple and the fretboard is Granadillo (Mexico).  Granadillo has an orange/red colouration which matches beautifully for this creation.  The electrics, tuners, etc. have all been artificially aged to look period appropriate on this guitar.  An old barn door handle serves as a carrying handle and the bridge is made from the trim off of an old prairie church organ (I’m not making this stuff up).  I even added a keyhole escutcheon to the headstock to keep my ’61 Canadian nickel company.

“SK39″ is fully fretted and fully electric.  The scale length is 25-1/2” and she is tuned to an open G chord.  She has low action and perfect intonation.  The humbucker style pickup offers a deep tone and suits the guitar perfectly. Volume and tone controls are located right on top within easy reach.

Truly a fine instrument and a great piece of Canadian history!!

$600

Twisted Heads

“Twisted Heads” A unique name for a unique cigar box guitar.

“Twisted Heads” is a fully cedar, vintage cigar box from sometime in the 60’s.  I wanted it to have a vintage look with lots of vintage brass hardware.  I found a really heavy brass hinge and used it for the tailpiece and string retainer.  It adds some weight to the body of the guitar which helps balance it all out.  I used an old antique brass door pull for a carrying handle. I found and old door strike plate for the volume and tone control trim and I used a piece of old cymbal for the cable jack plate. A fancy escutcheon plate adorns the headstock and the tuners are original antiqued brass.  The pickup and the knobs didn’t match at all so I cleverly hand painted them to appear like they are also tarnished, antiqued brass.  They turned out excellent and match perfectly.

“Twisted Heads” is a fully fretted, electric 3 sting guitar.  The small single coil pickup has a great tone and really suits the guitar’s overall vintage vibe. Tuned to Open G, this 25-1/2″ scale guitar is easy to play with low action and great intonation. the fretboard is Black Walnut and the neck is locally harvested Big Leaf Maple.

These vintage style guitars are what I envision all Cigar Box Guitars should be. Truly vintage with a truly vintage style.

$500

 

Sparton

“Sparton” was inspired by a rusty old medallion that I found in my “greebly” bin.  I couldn’t seem to find any information on the medallion.  No history on the company and no idea what it was all about so I just made a guitar out of it!!

“Sparton” was really fun to build.  Everything had to revolve around the medallion.  It is rusty and tarnished so I had to make all the other components appear rusty and tarnished.  Shiny chrome just wouldn’t look right on a vintage style guitar.  I used a clever paint technique to make new objects appear dirty and rusty.  The results were excellent (see the pickup).

 The old wooden cigar box was in rough shape but has been fully reinforced internally to add strength and stability.  This is a process I use on all my guitars.  The bridge is actually an old wooden drawer pull mounted upside down.  The aging and patina were a perfect match. 

The neck is made from local Maple and was artificially aged using a similar painting technique.  The fretboard is a real stunner!  Local Spalted Maple with awesome colour and wild grain really adds to the overall vintage vibe.

“Sparton” is fully fretted and fully electric.  He has 24 frets on a 25-1/2′ scale and is currently tuned to an Open G tuning. The action on this guitar is amazing thanks to the “zero fret” nut system.  It keeps the action low and the intonation perfect right up to the 24th fret.

A vintage Cigar Box Guitar at its finest!

Sold to Gerry

Rocky Ford

“Rocky Ford” is another rare vintage cigar box from the mid 1900’s.

This old box has such great patina and aging that I wanted to preserve it as much as I could.  I gave the box three coats of Polyurethane to keep it exactly as I found it. I had an old vintage chrome hinge that had seen better days.  It had a scuffed finish and was pitted with rust.  This hinge was the inspiration for this guitar.

Brand new looking chrome parts would look out of place so I used an aging technique to get shiny chrome to appear dull, pitted, and rusted. I distressed the pickup, the tuners, and the strap pins so they matched the hinge. I used a rusty washer for the jack plate and a couple of mismatched car radio knobs for the the volume and tone controls. The bridge is an old wooden drawer pull from an antique dresser which is installed upside down. A rusty screen door pull makes a great carrying handle on the top side of the guitar.

Black Walnut was used for the neck and received an aged paint effect to give it a well worn appearance.  The neck is also Black Walnut with Birch fret dots.  The dark wood tones on the neck and fretboard go very well with the wood tones and patina of the vintage cigar box.

“Rocky Ford” is a fully fretted, electric 3 string guitar.  He is tuned to an Open G and is set up on a Stratocaster scale length of 25-1/2″.  The “zero fret” nut system ensures perfect intonation and low action.  The “Snake Oil’ style humbucker pickup has a great tone and really suits these vintage series of guitars.

Another great piece of cigar box history preserved as functional art.

$500

BC61

“BC61” is a little bit special to me. I live in BC (British Columbia) and I was born in 1961 so I’m a bit fond of this old pink license plate.

1961 license plates in BC had a rather bright choice of colours for just this one year.  Interestingly, the following year in 1962 they reversed the colours to pink numbers on a Burgundy background. Regardless of the colours, I had to make sure the guitar body colours matched. I chose to use a base coat of pink paint and then created a crackled finish with the burgundy top coat (zooming in on the photos helps to see the effect).  It turned out exactly like I envisioned!

Aging the guitar body was only half the battle.  I needed to make sure that all the components used on the guitar also looked well worn and old.  A few paint techniques and a few metal aging techniques and soon everything looked period correct.  An old bullet hinge from a vintage cooler serves as the tailpiece, the bridge is made from some trim work salvaged from an old pump organ, and a set of vintage style tuners complete the design. The addition of an old leather handle from a Doctor’s medical bag matched the burgundy colours perfectly!! It suits this guitar so well.

“BC61″ is fully fretted and fully electric.  The scale is 25-1/2” and she is currently tuned to an Open G chord. Low action and great intonation make this guitar a great choice for any level of player.  The humbucker style pickup has a darker tone and suits the style of the guitar. The neck is a rich Black Walnut and the fretboard is local Maple with a really interesting grain pattern.  It even has a bit of flame pattern in it….very unusual.

This guitar could be considered the original “61 Nickel Guitar”!! Pretty in pink!!

$600

Old Yeller

“Old Yeller” started out as an old wooden parts box painted a light yellow colour.  It was old, dirty, and pretty beat up.  Perfect for a vintage series guitar.  Although not technically a cigar box, “Old Yeller” still makes a great looking guitar.

The paint effect used to make this guitar look old takes time and effort but the results speak for themselves.  This guitar definitely does not look like it came out of a music store showroom recently.  From the well worn Doctor’s bag leather handle used as a carrying handle to the cast iron breather plate used as a string retainer and from the imperfectly perfect hand cut f-holes to the fully adjustable floating bridge, this guitar manages to check all the “vintage” boxes!!

The humbucker style pickup gives this guitar a darker tone and larger body size allows for a certain amount of acoustic quality.  “Old Yeller” is fully fretted up to 24 frets and is fully electric.  The tuning is set to an Open G chord and the action is low and easy playing.  The intonation is perfect and is fully adjustable with the new style bridge.  A Maple neck with a Maple fretboard make this a beautiful instrument to play.

This is a really cool vintage style guitar!!

$550