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I started off making cigar box guitars, but quickly got involved in making other items as well. This page showcases my various guitars, amplifiers, stomp boxes, tamboxes (tm), and soup can microphones.

Guitars
Amplifiers
Stomp Boxes
Tambox
Soup Can Microphones
Hand Wound CBG Pickups

I often bundle up guitars, amps, and other products as a package deal for sale on eBay. If you are interested in a bundle not currently offered, please contact me and I'll put something together for you.

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Guitars

I built my first guitar after swapping "maker" stories with my older brother. He had made and given away several relatively crude cigar box guitars. All were made by hand with a drill as his only power tool. His enthusiasm was contagious. After lots of research, I built my first. Thinking it would be my only build, I included frets, inlays, and piezo pickups. It was built in my new shop, attached to my new house in a suburb of Austin Texas. My realtor came by wanting to see how the custom "room" (shop) was working out. She saw the guitar on the workbench, and just had to have it. I offered to make her another one, but she insisted I sell her that one. That was a long time ago, and its been a fun ride ever since.

Most of my guitars have the following features or attributes:

 

 

I really hate having to be ultra careful handling my guitars. It is a pain to have to think about how to sit or move it around without scratching or dinging it. Not to worry, I've already done this for you. The first couple of dozen marks are provided for you... Feel free to add more.

 

Nickle Silver Frets  

No hand drawn fret markers.

 

2-3 degree neck rake angle  

The neck is mounted at an angle relative to the box to provide a more consistent string action along the neck

 

Scarf jointed head  

The head is bent back slightly providing a strong downward force on the nut. No back yard hacks, eye bolts or other failure prone hardware to keep the strings down.

 

Mother of pearl fret inlays  

Inlayed at frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, & 19

 

Glowing side fret markers  

Inlayed glow in the dark side fret markers on side of neck at frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, & 19. Just hold it up to a light for a minute and go play on the porch at night. Looks cool and really helps.

 

24.5" Fret Length  

Copied straight from my Gibson SG. Not too long, not too short.

 

Hardwood Nut & Bridge  

Some people like the look and simplicity of using bolts or threaded rod for the nut and bridge. That's cool, but I prefer to have a little more control of the action. I use an extremely hard wood called IPE for my nuts and bridges.

 

Large radius on back of neck  

The back of the neck has been rounded to better fit the arch of your hand.

 

Great acoustics  

Through lots of research, builds, and experiments, a number of subtle design elements help to improve the overall quality and volume of the un-plugged sound of these guitars. These are much more than a stick in a box. They are not nearly as loud as a traditional acoustic guitar, but remember, they are made from shipping crates for tobacco products.

 

Piezo Pickup with 1/4" jack  

Allows you to amplify the guitar and really crank it up. The piezo pickup provides the "twangy" high treble tone Cigar Box Guitars are famous for.

 

Volumn and Tone controls  

Allows you to turn up or down the volume, and to cut out some of the treble to get a deeper tone.

 

Strap buttons  

Chrome plated metal buttons. Strap it on, stand up, and go.

 

Hand made magnetic pickup + piezo pickup combination

I recently made a pickup winding machine (50's vintage Sears sewing machine), and am now making higher end guitars available with mag AND piezo pickups included. This is not my first go at making pickups, but it is the first in what I hope to be a long line of guitars featuring both types of pickups. The tone on these hand made pickups is deep and grungy. Much more bass than a piezo pickup. The poles are rusted screws, to match the general vibe of my guitars. The innocent appearance of a simple beat up CBG is maintained since there is no big blocky pickup visible, but don't be fooled, the tone in far from innocent. All pickups are made by me in my shop in the USA, not mass produced in a foriegn country. For variation, I have installed both types of pickups, available in 3 switchable settings... mag pickup, piezo pickup, and both combined. The piezo setting is your traditional twangy higher treble sound. The mag setting is more of a deep, heavy-metal sound. The combination of the two very rich, and sounds FANTASTIC.

Give it a listen here.

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beat-to-sh!+

rake-neck

markers

scrar

controls

 

 

 

 

 

3way

 

 

 

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My amps are also made from cigar boxes, and most all have my beat-to-sh!+ finish.

I have made hundreds these amps to go with my cigar box guitars. This experience has helped me improve on the design, sound quality, circuitry, and robustness of these little amps. You are not getting someone's prototype or 6th build. The design is dialed in, and they are a solid product. Some of the buyers of my cigar box guitar packages liked the amp so much, they requested that I sell them by themselves.

No longer do you have to worry about being heard. Will there be electricity where we’re going? Think of the opportunities this amp will open up for you being so small, light, and self contained. Just toss it in the back seat and go.

Most all of my amps have the following features or attributes: Made from a small Cigar Box. Treated with my Beat to Sh!+ method. Looks beat up on the outside, but the box joints have been re-glued for added strength. Recycled leather handle held on with rusty screws. Looks like an old piece of 1940's vintage test equipment my father used in his day. Portable, uses 6 aa batteries providing hours of usage; Four times more playtime compared to a traditional single 9v battery. Solid rubber feet keep it from slipping around. Feet mounted on two sides. Point speaker down for more bass and full coverage. Point speaker out for more directional control. 4" 8 ohm, speaker with large magnet. Speaker cone is protected with black metal mesh. Blue power indicator light. Circuit is based on a common, low voltage design. Includes new batteries.

Some of the amps have a headphone output jack. The jack automatically switches from speaker to headphone when a jack is plugged in.

All amps come with a 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter to plug in an mp3, smart phone, or other small music player and large assortment of picks including a thumb pick and a finger pick.

Simple amp

One 1/4" input jack, a 1/4" output (headphone or other) jack, volume control. This is the amp that started it all for me. I used to sell these exclusively packaged together with my cigar box guitars. Some of the buyers of liked the amp so much, they requested that I sell them by themselves. This amp uses the same components as the Dual Input amp below (except it only has one input). If you want to listen to this one, just check out the video below, and disregard the "dual input" aspect of it.

amp-screw

Dual Input amp

Two 1/4" input jacks, NO output jack, two volume controls (one for each input, controlled separately). Great for those wanting a very small, cool looking amp, to drive two separate devices such as guitar plus harmonica, microphone, or stomp box; two guitars; two microphones, etc. Picture jamming out with a friend, or playing your guitar plus harmonica or stomp box on the street with this small light weight unit.

Just think of it... you and a buddy jacked in together. Your guitar and another instrument both being amplified from the same small, portable device.

I have been trying to get this set up worked out for some time, and have finally come up with a design that will drive two different devices - its very tricky to combine piezo pickups, microphones, and/or magnetic pickups given the different inductance and signal strengths. And I've finally worked out a design that isolates the two different inputs, each with their own volume control.

Check out a video of this amp

 

amp-dual

Distortion amp

One 1/4" input jack, a 1/4" output (headphone or other) jack, volume control, Fuzz control.

I have added fuzz box distortion circuitry to add heavy, throaty, massive sustain. It is built into the amp - no need for a separate unit/cable.

The added fuzz box circuitry increases the signal, so, this puppy really annoys my spouse even when I'm in a closed off bedroom on the other side of the house. I love it. Sounds really nasty with a slide, or when cranking on a hot lead. If you like, you can switch off the fuzz effect for a clean sound.

Check out a video of this amp

amp-dual

Other Amps

In addition to my standard beat-to-sh!+ distressing, I have also built amps using clean, native boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes. One common size is a small thin box that rides quite nicely in a gig bag... roughly 7"x5"x1.5". Shown here is a Road Runner Acme Dynamite crate type box made into an amp. And below that, one made from a 1962 vintage clock radio. Depending on my mood or customer request, I have built simple, dual input, and distortion amps into a wide variety of boxes. Availability is unpredictable. Just let me know what you are interested in and we'll see what we can come up with.

Do you have a cool box or container you'd like turned into an amp? I can build one for you with a little time and money. Just drop me a note.

amp-crate

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Small rhythm passive stomp box (foot bass) made from a small thick walled cigar box. Standard ¼” jack with piezo pickup. The box has been cut down to the wedge shape, and reinforced on the inside. Treated with my beat-to-sh!+ method. The box walls are solid thick wood with large finger joints. The hollow reinforced center provides a nice tone. Rubber feet help keep it from sliding around. Includes a high/low bass switch that varies the bass tone.

Check out a video of one of my stomp box products

And a stompbox being used by a satisfied customer

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cigar box stomp box 1

cigar box stomp box 2

 

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Another original from Mead Guitars.

A professional percussionist asked if I could make a multi-tone, multi-function hand held tambourine. While I was not able to get high zoot microprocessor based synthesized sounds as he had originally suggested, the TamBox is the results of lots of experimentation and back & forth prototyping.

This hand held percussion device is played similar to a tambourine. Low pitch rattles are mounted on the inside and can be clearly heard. A number of different tones can be achieved by rapping on different sides and parts of the box. The external ridge provides great place to get a ra-ta-tat-tat-tat sound by playing with your ring finger.

Sounds are picked up by a piezo pickup, and made available for amplification through a standard ¼” jack. Plug into any amp and go.

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tambox 1

tambox 2

Another original from Mead Guitars.

Very retro sounding handmade microphone. This ain’t no Shure, Electrovoice, or Sennheiser. It’s a Cambell’s Soup can! Nothing fancy, just a cool sounding, cool looking novelty microphone. Made from a cleaned soup can, a ¼” jack, a piezo pickup, and specialty cloth cover. The label has been treated with several layers of clear coat to prolong its life. It should show its wear over time nicely.

Picture the audience as you pull this puppy out of your gig bag; The stories you could tell about the hard times. Or your friends as they speak or sing through this. Works great with a harmonica.

 

Check out a video of this mic

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soup can microphone


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Hand Wound CBG Pickups

Cigar box guitar (CBG) pickup system designed by a CBG builder for CBG builders. As necessity is the mother of invention, I bring you this offering. I wanted to up my game and provide a magnetic pickup system for my guitars. Now is your chance to up your game as well.

I purchased a couple of different traditional top mounted pickups to experiment with and was not pleased with the sound quality, the hassle associated with hacking a big hole in the soundboard, and the look of the shinny magnets and large cover plate. This magnetic pickup mounts on the bottom of the lid, exposing only the rusty screw poles with minimal disruption to the structure and look of the box.

Being the curious hacker that I am, I researched and built a pickup winder from a 1950's vintage cast iron Kenmore sewing machine. I experimented with different magnets, coil thickness, and winding count to dial in a tone that works quite well in a three way switch combination with a Piezo.

I offer a package including a hand made magnetic pickup, a piezo pickup, and a 3 way switch. Includes installation instructions.

Check out the sound


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pickup

3way

CBG Pickup Winder

 

 

 

 

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goto store For Custom Orders or Info Contact: Larry <at> MeadGuitars.com