Many of the accessories for Cigar Box Guitars are the same as you’d use for regular guitars. Things like slides, capos, stands, straps, cords, cases, etc. This is a short overview of some of the accessories you might think of picking up (or making!) for your cigar box instrument. We’ll link to some of our favorite suppliers where possible to help get you on your way.
If your CBG is set up for slide playing, then of course you will need one of these. Guitar slides come in all sorts of sizes and materials, from glass to brass to stainless steel to wood and cow bone. Historically, small medicine bottles, wine bottle necks and pocket knives were often used. Pretty much any slide will work for playing a CBG, but you will want to find one that fits your finger well, and that has a sound you like. Here are some things to keep in mind about slides:
- Different materials will produce different sounds when used as a slide – glass will be colder and brighter, wood will be more mellow and warm, etc.
- Some players like a longer slide for covering all of the strings at once; others prefer a shorter “stubby” slide so they can only hit one or two strings at once with it.
- Slides can be sized to your finger using various materials. Over at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply they always include a piece of self-adhesive faux moleskin that you can stick inside your slide to help size it to your finger.
Here are some links to sources for different types of slides:
- C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply – C. B. Gitty currently carries two sizes of polished copper pipe slides, four sizes of stainless steel slides, medicine bottle slides, and the many more.
- Most of the big guitar-related retailers sell standard factory-made glass and metal guitar slides.
A capo is a device that you clamp onto your neck over the strings to increase the pitch. It is used with fretted instruments so that you can use familiar chord forms to play in unfamiliar keys. For example, if you know a song in the key of G, using the chords G, C and D, you can play the same song in the key of B-flat by putting a capo on your third fret and playing the chords above the capo in the same way you would at the top of the neck if you didn’t have the capo on. Capos come in various shapes and sizes, from fairly simple elastic band models to spring-loaded clamp-on models. Pretty much any type will work on a cigar box guitar, but one thing to watch out for is the amount of radius (arc) built into the part of the capo (usually a rubber or plastic “foot” of sorts) that presses against the strings. If there is a good bit of arc, then it can apply more pressure to some strings than others, which might throw off your intonation.
Most music stores and online guitar sellers and supply houses carry capos, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding one. You can also get several types from C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply.
It is always a good idea to use a stand to store your instrument and protect it from damage. We have found that store-bought stands intended for regular guitars can often be too big for a cigar box guitar, especially the base portion that is made to support the large, rounded body of an acoustic guitar. We’ve had better luck with smaller stands, such as those intended for mandolins, banjos and other smaller instruments. There are also wall-mount hangers that hold the instrument by the headstock, and these can be very handy if you have plenty of wall space but not so much floor space. You can find both free-standing floor guitar stands and wall hangers at most music shops and guitar supply houses.
If you are going to be playing standing up, it’s a good idea to affix a strap to your CBG. This can be as simple as a piece of twine, or as fancy as a genuine leather custom-made guitar strap – it’s entirely up to you. Whether you want to convert an old belt into a strap or pay for one, you’ll want to include some stable means of attaching it to your CBG, whether permanently or using some form of strap button that would allow you to remove it when desired. C. B. Gitty has a several types of straps available.
If your CBG has a pickup in it, you’ll need a cord to connect it to your amplifier. The standard for guitars is the 1/4″ mono “phone” cable, shown to the right. The length is up to you, and they are available from a multitude of suppliers in lengths from three feet on up to 100+ feet. You can get them in plain black plastic or with fancier mesh varieties, depending on how much money you want to spend. C. B. Gitty has a nice basic 10-foot cord at a great low price to get you started.
When it comes to cases for cigar box guitars, you have to get a bit creative – you aren’t going to be able to walk into your local guitar center and take one off the rack. Some builders find that cases or gig bags made for smaller instruments, such as tenor banjos or bouzoukis, work well for their cigar box builds. Others have used padded gun carrying cases. Still others have built their own custom cases!