Welcome to VonMax’s Primitive Strings, Custom Cigar Box Guitars, Ukuleles and More!
I am thrilled to announce that VonMax’s Custom CBG’s are no longer another idea from Mad Man Max but are now HERE!
A life-long music lover and American History buff, VonMax’s fascination with Americana, Folk, and Blues has come full circle from one who enjoys listening and playing, to one who now builds these unique examples of primitive Americana instruments for others to learn and enjoy.
These instruments take us back to a time when Americans didn’t have the luxury of music stores nearby. But in almost every city or town in the 1840’s, one could find discarded cigar boxes. Solid wood and hollow in the center these boxes were formed in to guitars and violins (fiddles), banjos and mandolins. The music from these instruments could be heard in camps during the Civil War as Union and Confederate soldiers would sit around their campfires and entertain themselves with song.
In 1884, plans for a cigar box banjo were published by Daniel Carter Beard, co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, as part of ‘Christmas Eve With Uncle Enos.’ The plans, eventually retitled ‘How to Build an Uncle Enos Banjo’ as part of Beard’s American Boy’s Handy Book in the 1890 release as supplementary material in the rear of the book.
Although most early Cigar Box instruments were somewhat primitive, depending on ones budget and skill there are those that were actually rather well built. For example, the National Cigar Box Guitar Museum (yes, it’s a real place) Has a couple cigar box fiddles built in in the late 1880’s that seem very playable and well built. In fact, one that was built in 1889 has a well carved neck and slotted violin headstock.
The cigar box guitars and fiddles were also important in the rise of jug bands and blues. As most of these performers were black Americans living in poverty, many could not afford a “real” instrument. Using these, along with the washtub bass (similar to the cigar box guitar), jugs, washboards, and harmonica, black musicians performed blues during socializations.
The Great Depression of the 1930s saw a resurgence of homemade musical instruments. Times were hard in the American south and for entertainment sitting on the front porch singing away their blues was a popular pastime. Musical instruments were beyond the means of everybody, but an old cigar box, a piece of broom handle and a couple wires from the screen door and a guitar were born.
America today has discovered a renewed interest in cigar box instruments. There are festivals for CBG players whether blues, country, folk, American and yes, even Rock and Roll. Easy to learn and fun to play, Bubba VonMax is proud to announce his new line of Cigar Box Guitars, Resonators, Ukuleles, Diddly Bows and Dulcimers.
VonMax CBG’s come with the option 3, 4 and 6 strings. Please understand that cigar boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors so those pictured might not be available. However, VonMax Customs can build you a guitar that will suit your needs.
All guitars will be handmade (other than the cigar boxes themselves) by Bubba VonMax. Customer options will include using the actual cigar box as it is or having VonMax hand paint and finish a design just for you. Prices will vary based on the options chosen.
So feel free to browse, e-mail me if you have any questions or are interested in pricing for a custom instrument.