Canjo’s

This is a funny little instrument – ideal for taking on holiday and not worrying about it fitting in the car or getting ruined on the beach – worries that come with those other expensive and delicate instruments that 'normal' people play…

Canjo's in the make

Canjo's

Valentina built and decoated her own Canjo at a festival

Price: 33 Euro’s.

Availability: Available (can make on demand).

Contact Me if you are interested in one.

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

Karel I ‘Regalia’ antique Cigar box guitar

This guitar is made from an old cigar box from the Karel factory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Not sure about the age of the box itself, but I guess it's from the '30's. 

Karel I 'Regalia' cigar box guitar

Karel I 'Regalia'

Karel I 'Regalia'

Price: 400 Euros

Availability: Coming soon (almost ready). Contact me to preorder!

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

‘Old Dutch Mill’ cookie tin guitar

A beautiful aluminum tin (probably for cookies) with a white and blue dutch style painting of a windmill.
The fretboard is made from a recycled piece of mahogany (floor).

The result is very classy. Bright sound.

'Old dutch mill' cookie tin guitar

'Old dutch mill' cookie tin guitar strung for the first time

'Old dutch mill' cookie tin guitar almost ready for assembly

'Old dutch mill' cookie tin guitar strung for the first time

'Old dutch mill' cookie tin guitar strung for the first time

Price: 300 Euros.

Availability: Available now. If you want to buy this, contact me

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

‘Cellocan’ cookie tin 3-strings guitar

The following is a Cookie tin guitar I built almost completely out of recycled materials (only the tuning pegs are new) – it looks beautiful and it's a pleasure to play.

You can read more about it at my blog.

Recycled 'Cellocan' Cookie Tin Guitar

Screw bridge on cookie tin body

Recycled Headstock

 

Here a friend plays it

Price: 150 Euros

Availability: Available. Contact me if you want to buy this.

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

One-String Diddley Bow in a box

Cigar Box Diddley Bow

Simple one-string headstock on broomstick neck

Below you can hear how the one above sounds, in a short recording where I am playing a couple of chords on a guitar and my son accompanies me with an arrangement –

Luca playing the diddley bow

Price: 50 euro's (unless non-standard build, electrified, etc)

Availability: I can make these upon request pretty quickly. Contact Me.

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

‘Santa Muerte’ Cigar Box Guitar

Not really a 'cigar box' guitar – this was made out of a wooden Tea box that whose original paint has been sanded down and then the box has been cut, re-painted and a 'Santa Muerte' image has been applied with decoupage technique.

'Santa Muerte' cigar box guitar

but it all started from this 'harmless' tea box

Voodoo Tea box 'Santa Muerte'

The fretboard goes above the box and it's crazy long. The first 20 frets have been installed, the rest is fretless.

'Santa Muerte' cigar box guitar (detail)

'Santa Muerte' cigar box guitar (detail)

Here an acoustic video, for demo of how it sounds

Here another demo, this time the guitar was plugged in an amp with a little reverb

And this is the happy new owner of this guitar while he's playing it for the first time

Lastly, here's a blues-y song I wrote recently, performed with the 'Santa Muerte' cigar box guitar – just in time before it gets picked up by its new owner, I thought I'd test drive it properly… as well as my Plank "#01" Telecaster.

Price: 300 Euro's.

Availability: SOLD.

Contact Me if you are interested in some similar design, it can be done again :-)

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

Plank Techno Diddley Bow

These are simple Diddley bows (one-string instruments) that I make out of Cigar molds. No two ones will be identical, but will be all pretty similarly built and decorated.

Techno Diddley Bow

Mold for cigars

Diddley Bows aren't just for playing Blues! I am experimenting with blending these instruments into more modern /technological styles of music – hear the techno experiment below where the diddly bow plays the melody and (most important) the bassline:

 
And here you can watch me and a friend play it live

 

Price: 50 euros

Availability: Can make these on-demand (typically within a week). Contact me to order yours!

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Source: builds from PlankGuitars

Cigar box (cookie tin) guitar 'Cellocan' and upcoming builds

I started building electric guitar bodies out of recycled wood while I was in the United States. Anyhow, it wasn't until recently, here in the Netherlands, that I really started looking at the 'lower end' of the instruments world (something I should have probably done earlier, but it's never too late): I discovered a thriving community around 'Cigar box' guitars – enthusiasts have written a manifesto , you can find forums for builders someone has filmed and documentaries about the phenomenon (external sites).

Wikipedia introduces them as follows:

The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone that uses an empty cigar box for a resonator. “Guitar” refers to the traditional instrument and to a string bass. The earliest predecessors had one or two strings; the modern model typically uses three or more. Generally speaking, strings are connected between the end of a broomstick or 1″ x 3″ wood slat and to the resonator, the cigar box.

This makes Cigar box guitars perfectly suited for being 100% built off recycled materials (maybe excluding the electronics). Even on this side of the world (Europe) where we have less actual ‘Cigar’ boxes, there are plenty of biscuit tins and wooden boxes out there for reuse as resonators!

There is of course political aspect to this – we live in a society that more and more and more just produces and ‘throws away’ stuff; it’s good if we can make our items live longer, or give things (that would normally be thrown away) new life. This is why – even for ‘regular’ guitars and custom builds/designs – I try to use recycled materials as much as possible.

So, after experimenting with a couple simple diddley bows (single string chordophones), I built also a 3 strings cigar box guitar, and featured that in my guitar site. This is a very crude build, here's how it looks:

Cookie tin guitar 'Cellocan'

This one's theme was to precisely try reuse as much recycled materials as possible and do *minimal* modifications to it: this led to have a broad but thin neck, for example, just because that was the size of the plank of wood I got out of some weird furniture found in a thrift store.
I have to admit that, after the move, I don't have a garage so I have been temporary constrained to my living room, and that's not the most comfy lab to work in 🙂 Anyhow, we have built a shed in my father in law's backyard that I will share to use for guitar building and he will do his other woodwork in:

Nico's creative space

Nico's creative space

He also has some long and straight hard wood poles that he got from his dad back in the days and never put to use: some of those will become guitar necks, I am working on the designs… Stay tuned!

Below you can see part of the process of building the cigar box (really a 'cookie tin') guitar and some other details about this particular guitar.

 
Partially shaped neck being glued to the fretboard
Clamped!

 
Broad and thin neck compromise – that's how the plank was – you can see there would be space for more strings, but the risk is that the wood is too thin. Anyhow, this makes it actually very easy to play with a slide. I left it fretless, but the action is low enough that it can also be played with fingers.

Cookie tin Guitar 'Cellocan'

 
Interestingly enough, albeit the bridge is flat (not an arch like in a violin), the string spacing is enough to allow to play some notes even with a bow – which inspired the name of 'Cellocan'

Cookie tin Guitar 'Cellocan'

Here you can see the string spacing and an aluminum (recycled from another box) string holder I hacked for this headstock (which doesn't have an angle like my future builds will)
Cookie tin Guitar 'Cellocan'

Cookie tin Guitar 'Cellocan'

 
And here you can see/hear me play it

The recording is horrible, but hope it gives an idea.
On SoundCloud I have some more 'sound tests' too.

 

Soon I'll start working on a batch of new cigar box / cookie tin guitars. Probably some 3, some 4 strings, some fretted, some not…

Below you can see some of the boxes/tins I have been collecting and have lined up to be turned into instruments – let me know if you are interested in any particular one!
I'll keep adding boxes to this Flickr photo set – to track individual progress of each 'body'.

Cigar box Dutch cookie tin Dutch cookie tin Cookie tin
Cookie tin Cookie tin Cookie tin Tea box
Cake tin Cookie tin Wooden ANWB box Wooden box

Then after having done some more of these 'simpler' builds, maybe I'll also do one or two full size, 6 strings, neck thru guitars. We'll see. Stay tuned in the next few months.