I've spent many years buying and selling folk art, homemade and unusual instruments. 

Whenever I get ready to build a guitar I am never at a loss for inspiration.

4 string Uke type cigar box instrument

From Niceville Florida

1 string diddley bow made Feb 5, 1927 by H.E.R

From Birmingham Michigan

4 string folk art banjo, hollowed chunk of wood for the body T.R.S.S written on the back

From Furlong, Pennsylvania

4 string folk art violin w/Horsehair bow

From California

Small hand tambourine

From Spring Hill Florida

4 string cigar box fiddle with handpainted snake on the back, reminiscent of the "don't tread on me" flag.
From Nashville Tn.

Djimbe drum from Guinea West Africa circa 1900

Cigar Box Fiddle with Bow w/tax stamp of 1926 from Fort Worth Texas

4 string El Verso Cigar box Uke from Yuba City California

5 string homemade wooden banjo From Durham N.C. Very much in the style of a Stanley Hicks Banjo

See the book Foxfire 3 to see what I mean

Handmade 4 string Dulcimer - from Georgia

8 string Mandolin with a brass body. Looks like two pots welded together. Has tailpiece but is missing the bridge. From Brainerd Minnesota.

Partial remains of an old 4 string folk art banjo. From Mebane N.C.

Handmade fiddle with archtop - Middletown, Pennsylvania 

Wood and animal hide drum, Zamora people, Tanzania East Africa

Ramkie Instrument - old "Farmers Union" can - from Brainerd Minnesota

I was extremely fortunate enough to acquire this piece from the Bill Jehle Cigar Box Guitar Museum. I think it is pretty rare that Bill lets anything go and I am beyond grateful. It is a pre World War II cigar box instrument about the size of a baritone ukulele. Incredible piece.

I built and swapped a 6 string lap steel for this sweet, homemade, vintage, 8 string lap steel. You can see where it at one time had some legs attached to it. It's missing the volume and tone pots but I bet I can get those Kent WC-25's to purr again.

Here is a really cool and unusual instrument that I just added to my collection. It's a one string/diddley bow type instrument but the really unusual aspect is how its fretted. It actually has a metal slide that the string passes through. I found the patent for this which was applied for in 1919 and granted in 1921 (#1,371,506) I've included one of the patent drawings here as well. The "Marxolin" by Charles Henry Marx. These were marketed as instruments that absolutely anyone could play.

I acquired this piece from a fiddle shop in the UK. It is an early 1900’s Japanese fiddle. During that time period they were referred to and sold as a Jap Fiddle.

This is the Stroviol Phonofiddle. Another early 1900's, 1 string instrument, that I acquired from the UK.

This instrument came from Yakima Washington.  It has the initials OJJ carved on the back of the headstock and there is a note inside the box that reads: "Otto: I have done my best to make this Goose-Cackle worthy of being received by you as a gift from me. Your true friend, Oswald J. Jenson" 

This Mandolin style instrument came from Orlando Florida. It's a frail piece that has just a ton of character. 

I traded a resonator guitar for this all metal folk art guitar. It was acquired by William Scott in Albuquerque New Mexico. He obtained the guitar from Elaine Rush who had it hanging in her barn in West Virginia. Elaine, who was in her 70's told him that she remembered when a friend of her fathers built and gave the instrument to him when she was a young child living in North Carolina. Yeah, it's been a few places...

This is a Karen Harp of Northern Thailand that I acquired from a local antique shop in Atlanta Georgia.

My sister gave me this Rwandan instrument that she purchased from a man that obtained it in an antique shop in Kigali Rwanda

An early 1900s 4 string cigar box guitar from Ohio

1930's Lusterware Plate depicting Mickey with a stand up, cigar box, bass fiddle.

11 X 15 early 1940's puzzle, which features a print by Raymond James Stuart showing a boy playing a homemade cigar box violin.

British, 1930's, Mickey Mouse razor blade showing Mickey playing his cigar box guitar. It is even etched on the blade.

1930s children's tea cup with Mickey Mouse playing his homemade one string guitar.

How to build a cigar box guitar and many other folk instruments

© 2013-2018 by Charles Atchison. All rights reserved.