Check out this series of articles in Guitar World featuring Justin Johnson, and while you're at it, make sure you visit
Saner Cigar Box Guitars.

Mini-documentary of the
3rd Annual Pennsylvania
Cigar Box Guitar Festival:
“Future for Cigar Box Guitars”

Penn-Live News coverage of the

3rd Annual Pennsylvania
Cigar Box Guitar Festival.

Cigar Box Guitar

When the Saints Go Marching In

St. James Infirmary

Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes

~Cigar Box Guitars~

Since the Cigar Box took shape in the early 1800's, innovative luthiers have been constructing beautiful and fascinating stringed instruments out of them.  These instruments enjoyed a resurgence in the Jug Band Era as homemade instruments found their place in the popular music scene, but have, for the most part, flown under the mainstream radar. 

The greatest influence of the Cigar Box Guitar can be seen in the Blues genre.  Some of the greatest Blues legends began their musical journeys on the Cigar Box Guitar due to the affordability and accessibility of these homemade instruments.   As a result, the feel and tone of these instruments helped inspire some of rhythms and melodies that have become the backbone of American Musical Tradition. 

Justin's unique approach adds intricate Jazz and Gypsy stylings to an instrument that has largely been restricted to Folk, Rock, and Blues.  After picking up a CBG for the first time in 2011, Justin Johnson has commanded instant respect among CBG veterans and enthusiasts, with his innovative approach and unparalleled finesse and virtuosity.

To present the Cigar Box Guitar as the truly versatile and expressive musical instrument that it is, it takes a very skilled artist and craftsman to construct the instrument.  The modern CBG is a marriage of tradition and technology.  The roots instruments that Justin uses are true works of art, requiring extensive knowledge of electronics, woodworking, and music.  Without talented Luthiers like those represented here, the musical possibilities and traditions of these instruments would remain untapped.
Justin Johnson's highly anticipated double album "Smoke & Mirrors" is the most comprehensive musical statement yet made, about the past, present, and future of handmade American Roots instruments~ A sensory immersive musical journey that will have you spellbound from the first note.

The "Smoke" album highlights the builds of some of the most talented, innovative, and artistic luthiers in the world today.  "Smoke" was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio, the “Birthplace of Rock & Roll,” using the studio’s combination of vintage equipment and modern technology to showcase the corresponding qualities in the 18 modern roots instruments featured.

The "Mirrors" album is a historical retrospective that showcases American Roots instruments, through acoustic recordings on 8 pre-WWII relic instruments from Bill Jehle's Cigar Box Guitar Museum.  For these recordings, we traveled down the historic Blues Highway 61 to capture acoustic field recordings at the authentic Crossroads of Blues legend, and at Shack Up Inn on the historic Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale Mississippi, “The Birthplace of the Blues.”  

Two enclosed full-color 24 page booklets are packed with photos of the journey, and of each of the instruments used in the recordings, along with detailed descriptions of the modern instruments featured on the "Smoke" album, and the stories behind the museum relics that shine on the "Mirrors" album. 
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