Two African American musicians sitting on hay bale playing on a homemade guitar and kazoos. 1920.
Making homemade guitars was a common hobby in the 1920s, particularly during the rise of folk music and the popularity of blues and country music. Many people in rural communities and small towns, who may not have had access to commercially made instruments, made their own guitars using locally sourced materials such as scrap wood and metal, and simple hand tools.
These homemade guitars, often referred to as "cigar box guitars," were made from boxes that once held cigars and other small consumer goods. The boxes were typically modified to have a neck attached to them and strings added. Despite their simple construction and often rudimentary design, these homemade guitars could produce a unique and rich tone, and they played a significant role in the development of early American folk music. The guitar pictured looks more like a bass and was made out of a larger box.
In the 1920s, many musicians and performers, particularly in rural communities and in the blues and country music genres, made use of these homemade guitars, and they were often a staple of the traveling musicians who performed on the streets and in local taverns and dance halls.
Today, the tradition of making homemade guitars continues, and many musicians and hobbyists still make their own instruments using a variety of materials and techniques. The popularity of these homemade instruments has also led to the creation of commercially produced kits and materials that make it easier for people to make their own guitars.