Making Poor Man's Guitars:  Exclusive Signed 1st Edition Direct from the Author

Many books have been written about how to build cigar box guitars and other unique hand-made instruments... but few have touched on why.  Making Poor Man's Guitars  presents the authentic stories of American DIY music with step-by-step projects, photo studies of antique instruments, interviews with music legends, and historical accounts. 

EXCLUSIVE: Autographed by Shane Speal. 


Cool Things: Simple Awesomeness Daily...

FREE PLANS: Build This Electric Banjo

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  "God bless the mad scientist feature writers who wrote for science magazines!"  I'm always discovering more experimental instrument plans as I dig deep into guitarcheology.  Today's discovery is a set of plans for building an electric banjo, taken from Popular Mechanics, October 1970.

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Free Download: A Cigar Box Nation Christmas, 2019

Merry Christmas, everybody!  The members of have just released their free download album, A Cigar Box Nation Christmas 2019 and I proudly have it hosted here on, free for you.  

Thank you to Steve Trowbridge for compiling and…

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Shane's Tip for New Slide Guitar Tunings

My son, Shane Jr. (pictured above on drums) is a budding musician who is exploring as many instruments as possible. 

Yesterday, he came downstairs holding his acoustic guitar with an excitement in his face that is indescribable.  If he was a dog, his tail would be wagging off his butt!  "I just invented a new tuning on my guitar," he said and proceeded to show me a variation of an E7th open tuning. 

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The Brazilian "Alternate Reality" Cigar Box Guitar by Gera

In my book, Making Poor Man's Guitars, I showed how legends can be built into an instrument.  This is when the builder starts thinking of some wild, fictional account of the instrument he's making.  

Just today, I received these photos and description of Gera's version of a cigar box guitar.  He asked himself, "what if a cigar box guitar originated in Brazil?"  Here's his full story:

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10 Minute Break? 10 Minute Project!

My entire woodship is in disarray as I pull everything out, reorganize and clean.  I spent over 6 hours just cleaning it as I prepare new projects made from a 1930's pipe organ I recently acquired.  During a 10 minute break in cleaning, I found the creative muse as I tried to find a place for a couple wheel barrow handles and a Coke crate.  

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Old Love, New Songs

Why do we write love songs only about young love?  Why is it always about the "first kiss," "first glance," etc etc?  To me, the stories of old love are more interesting. 

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Working in the shop today

I love being in my woodshop.  It doesn't matter what I'm building, just as long as I can go out there, slowly clean an area up and then make something cool.  

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Blue Man Group Debuts New & Freakish Instruments

If there was truly a modern version of jug band, Blue Man Group would be the Metallica of the genre.  Along with other theater acts, Recycled Percussion and Stomp!, the three guys with blues heads are creating contemporary tribal music performed on wildly creative homemade instruments.

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Not all legends are written books. Sometimes they're written inside the instruments that people make. Making Poor Man's Guitars digs deep into the past to find the music that connects with the living soul of America.”

— Fox Chapel Publishing

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Sample photos from the book...

About the Book