Lifehack logo

Could A Simple DIY Diddly Bow Project Or Cigar Box Guitar Be Considered 'Folk Art'

My rock star status didn’t turn out exactly as planned but, after watching a YouTube channel, ‘this video on primitive guitars renewed my interest in music.’

By Dave WettlauferPublished 4 months ago 7 min read
Photo by Author of my first Cigar Box Guitar Wall Hanging

My newfound DIY hobby venture started simple enough after entertaining a silly music video on YouTube., We all know one video takes me to another and then another. Before I knew it, I was watching a video on how to make ‘Cigar Box Guitars.’ Well, I have to admit, I have the time and the know-how.

Well, that part of building a DIY musical instrument could be right my alley.

I listened to a few talented guitarist play their homemade music boxes that in the end, actually sounded pretty cool. I’ve been to many outside concerts and events in my day and the mood was just right for this type of guitar playing music.

Of course, building one and playing one, are on opposite ends of the stick. But like I said, I’ll give it a go.

Here is my game plan on how to go about my new DIY project

But here is my strategic plan’ I’ll build one of these DIY project guitars but, I best start with a simple one-string walking stick first and then move up to the 3 string cigar box guitar. We’ll see how they turn out and then I’ll turn my sites on learning to play one professionally or maybe not, maybe just twang away like the famous guitar player Carl Perkins did in the early days.

I was intrigued enough to start building my own DIY ‘One Of A Kind’ instruments and, I’ll start with a ‘Diddly Bow Walking Stick.’ But this guitar project has all the hallmarks of 'Folk Art' because it's hand-made by a person that really doesn't know what they're doing, and, that is me!

But, the interesting thing is, why, after so many years I would be interested in building DIY-style guitars as a hobby? I have no idea why. And learning to play one. I still don’t know a fretboard from a G string.

Well … again, that last part of the [G] string is not quite true, but, we’ll leave that story for another day.

Could the learning curve DIY project be through years of smoking those fine Cuban cigars packed in those wooden boxes, is this where I get the urge to either start smoking again or, build something out of those unique cigar boxes? Or, could it be as simple as getting all hyped up from watching a YouTube video that caught my interest?

But through all intents, they were good cigars and …excellent YouTube videos.

In addition, the keyword for this story is ‘CIGAR BOXES. ‘

Photo of cigar boxes Public domain Wikimedia Commons

After saying this silly comment and searching the gray matter, I still have the original box that started me down that path of smoking cigars. As of today, it is filled with man jewelers and basically full of other useless junk.

Could A Simple DIY Diddly Bow Project Or Cigar Box Guitar Be Considered 'Folk Art'

But reading my own story, I’ll have to give these wooded cigar boxes another look, Maybe they were signed by the notorious Cuban President ‘Fidel Castro’ himself or maybe his predecessor, ‘brother Raúl.’ The signatures could be worth something to Tobacconist collectors or historians, or even, ‘What really happened at the Bay Of Pigs’.

As of today, I’m still nowhere closer to being in a rock star status like back in the day, but making cigar box guitars could be a fun endeavor. ‘I could venture to do something interesting like that.’ I can finally put my truck mechanic and classic car skills to work overhaulen a cigar box and making a …one of a kind guitar. That twanging country or blues music could be right up my alley. Oh sorry, I already said that!

This YouTube video shown here has thousands of likes and many comments listed below. In that video, he shows that within a couple of hours, ‘Looks simple enough.’ …

Now that we’re all on the same wavelength, to complement my story I am now researching famous musicians that use these styles of guitars. To my amazement, I came across many well-known household names.

• Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest is one of the musicians who can play the one-string guitar (called a diddley-bow)

• Faulkner also says that his cousin Napolian Strickland known for his drum and fife playing, also played a bit of the diddley bow music.

And like most of us authors when we write an in-depth story or blog, lots of research goes into writing down our thoughts, and, then doing more research. This newfound hobby is not an exception.

But if I want to tell the story reasonably accurately, the research showed many artists of today used these very simple instruments to create their fun style of music. Many started out at farmers markets or busking at fun events with a list of famous talent names below, some you will certainly recognize.

Some of these instruments are not for everybody.

Some of the tunes coming from these instruments might not be to everybody's liking, but many enjoy the mood the music represents and, the fun atmosphere they create, especially at outdoor concerts or social events.

Some poor people like myself could use whatever material kicking around or on hand to make these fun noise boxes. The famous Carl Perkins American singer, songwriter, and guitarist started out with a homemade one-string diddly bow his dad made. He was quoted as saying, ‘I used to beat on that thing before and after school.’

As a truck mechanic and an avid automotive swap meet vendor and goer, I say to myself, If Carl’s dad can make one out of farmers' fence wire … so can I.

My Conclusion To My Newfound Hobby.

This DIY Cigar Box Guitar project is an inexpensive hobby, They are a fun project to make and not only that, these instruments are works of art, made from materials like a pool cue a broom handle, ‘a cigar box from Honduras,’ even a metal curio box painted with intricate flowers?

In my estimation a diddly bow or homemade cigar box guitar would be considered under the heading, ‘folk art’, why … because they are hand-made by ordinary people.

In the broadest sense of the phrase, ‘folk art refers to the art of the people, as distinguished from the elite or professional product that constitutes the mainstream of art.’ Diddly bow or homemade cigar box guitars fit right into that category.

Eden Gallery expresses their thinking this way; ‘Folk Art’ is defined as a classic decorative, musical, or practical art of different cultures or regions. Folk art is usually unique to the people of a specific location and used as an expression of society.

I rest my case. They are a fun inexpensive DIY project, a conversation piece, and a workable guitar if you take your time to build it properly. And … they look cool.

Photo by Author...Sixpaque ...'My second license plate guitar'

Extra fun note on ‘Justen Bieber’ who lived not far from me.

Did you know Justen Bieber started his career on the steps of his hometown Opera House? He had himself filmed and then posted on ‘YouTube.’ … And the rest, ‘you already know.’

Maybe I can make a little jingle from my newfound cigar box DIY project hobby on those very steps Justen sat on in Stratford Ontario. Maybe I could sit in front of ‘Justin Bieber Museum’ ‘in the same city,’ I’m sure Justin wouldn’t mind. Maybe by chance, some of his luck will rub off.

And for you ladies out there who have read my story up until now, this YouTube video is a must-watch. ‘cigar box guitar.’ Cool.

A few performers played a cigar box guitar or Diddly bow in their Career.

• Bo Diddley played a cigar box–shaped guitar.

• Luther Dickinson, the guitarist of the North Mississippi Allstars, uses an electric cigar box guitar called the Lowebow.

• Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performs with a cigar box guitar.

• Frank Turner plays a four-string cigar box guitar.

Musicians who started out as busking or on the steps of the likes of the Grand Old Opry.

1. B.B. King

2. Glen Hansard

3. Ed Sheeran

4. Jewel

5. Tracy Chapman

6. Beck

7. Justen Bieber

The list of entertainers that started in a simple existence performing is long. Could a person play a cigar box guitar at a farmer’s market to hone your skills, I would think yes.

Happy DIY building. Who knows, we might share the same stage at some Blues festival.’ ‘I’ll see you there.

'Looks like this talented 'Cigar Box Musician' played this video at a fair or farmers market.'


❤ If you found my story interesting, entertaining or even inspiring to make your own DIY cigar box guitar, please hit that heart button to show my fun story was appreciated. ❤ Thanks for reading.

vintagehow tocrafts

About the Creator

Dave Wettlaufer

Canadian writer Classic Cars is my specialty. Versed in many please CLICK this LINK to read more of my stories. To show appreciation, hit that heart ❤ button.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.