Today we launch Is It Bluegrass, a new series at Bluegrass Today. It will appear sporadically on the site as topics suggest themselves to the question.
Some posts will be decidedly tongue-in-cheek, while others will contain items that may be of interest to much of the bluegrass community, without being precisely bluegrass content.
Today, we ask the question regarding cigar box guitars: Is It Bluegrass?
String Tinkers is a Connecticut company that was formed to create musical instruments using repurposed materials. Specifically, they produce hand-made cigar box guitars and ukeleles, and tin can banjos. Some are made to be plugged in, with the rest acoustic. The bodies are made from actual cigar boxes, with the neck wood recovered from old flooring and the like.
If you’ve read stories about the earliest days of what we now know as bluegrass and old time music, you may have heard about poor mountain folk who fashioned guitars and fiddles from old cigar boxes, or banjos from used tin cans. These were people living a subsistence lifestyle in many cases, where recycling and repurposing were the rule long before the terms came into fashion.
These days, inexpensive imports from east Asia bring beginner level instruments within the reach of most consumers in the West, and the String Tinkers are looking to capture the vintage vibe with playable instruments ranging from $200 – $315. You can see their catalog online.
Sure it’s cool… but Is It Bluegrass?