Thursday, October 15, 2015

3 Ways Shane Speal Impresses The Hell Out Of Me

Shane Speal on stage at the 2015 York, PA cigar box guitar festival

Shane Speal is different things to different people.

But the self-proclaimed King of the Cigar Box Guitar is undeniably this: 

one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest, most of us are making and playing CBGs.

"Hrrumph! I've been making and playing since blah, blah, blah." someone is muttering right now. 

Good on ya, my friend. But had it not been for Shane starting: 
  • the first known website for cigar box guitars
  • a Yahoo! group devoted to makers and admirers of CBGs
  • and
then it's likely that many of us wouldn't have felt the ripple effect of his efforts.

That effect led countless people to grab a stick and a box and make a cigar box guitar of their own.

I didn't know who Shane Speal was until I had worked for C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply for at least a year.

Had it not been for Shane's work, C. B. Gitty likely wouldn't exist, nor the market that supports the business.

This isn't some love-fest post about Shane. In fact, Shane does some things in ways that I never would.

But the clincher here is that, unlike Shane, I'm not trying to support a family while creating a niche and spear-heading the entire cigar box guitar movement. 

Shane is doing that. 

And has been for over 20 years.

What I am going to show you now, other than what's been already listed here are,

The 3 reasons why Shane Speal impresses the hell out of me.

1. The guy is a straight shooter

Shane doesn't try to sell you an image. He's not putting on costumes or wearing "cigar box guitar / roots music appropriate" outfits. 

Shane is the image

He has championed the CBG movement tirelessly, like no other, for years on end.

 He gave himself the title of King but has done more than anyone else to earn it.

2. He's selfless when it counts the most

I have unknowingly stepped on Shane's toes more than once with things I've created to help other makers and players. 

Did Shane fly off the handle? Thump his chest and try to take credit? Did he threaten me with a take-down / cease and desist notice?

No. No he did not. 

Unlike my experiences with a few other people in the cigar box guitar community, Shane let it all go because I was helping people

His interests aren't focused solely on him.

3. Shane cares about builders becoming players

He has been consistent in this one message:

You've built your cigar box guitar. Now get out there and play the damn thing!

Shane isn't out there selling instructional materials. In fact he's given away his time and knowledge on Youtube in an effort to teach people how to play. 

Check out an entire playlist of some of those videos here.

Shane has been the catalyst to make this cigar box guitar thing explode. 

Had it not been for him, the umpteen degrees of what it took for CBGs to come into my life simply wouldn't have been in place.

So while Shane Speal may be different things to different people, I know him to be

  • honest 
  • giving 
  • and inspiring 

Those are qualities I can get behind and they are what Shane Speal has.

What's the one thing about Shane that impresses you the most?


  1. Glenn, I just stumbled upon CBG's recently. I saw an old man with this super primitive box guitar which he'd made. He was sitting in a barn, on a stool. After describing it, he played the snot out of it! Then I started researching them and just made my own (it's pretty rough), which I'll be putting strings on this morning. In the meantime, through my research, I have been watching your videos and Shane's. And you're right, Shane is a Wizard on the CBG and is sure to give a lot of advice and promotion of the CBG, which I appreciate. I simply enjoy his website and videos! Thank you! Michael -- from Michigan.

    1. Hey Michael!
      Thank you for stopping by here and spending some time to read this.

      Welcome to the world of CBGs! Making them can be a little rough at first. Even if you make a hundred the 101st one can still make you groan from a mistake or two. No matter what number you may end on, every single CBG you make will take on a life of its own with a piece of you as part of it.

      I'm glad you found Shane Speal. He has spearheaded this movement of cigar box guitar builders. In addition he is a pleasure to watch and listen to. One hell of a player, that guy!

      Thank you, again, for being here, Michael. If ever you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave 'em with me.

  2. Hello Glenn!

    I found the Cigar Box Movement though the oddest of searches-I was looking for information on the one or more string Central Asian komuz. Once I found some online listings,

    I realized that a resonant box with 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1 string that were authentic were far out of my budget.

    So, I started looking for something more affordable of same or similar design. My next search brought up the CB Gitty website, with all of its links to cigar box resources, I plunked down damned near nothing and got myself a cigar box-style diddley bow. I've got a three string on order, and will build a chugger sometime before the summer.

    Kudos to Shane-and everyone else-who heard/saw potential in a musical instrument not worthy of even a single mention in most academic histories of lap steel guitars, violins, etc. As Ernest Thompson Seton, one of Dan Beard's friends often said about making utilitarian items that were practical and beautiful-"Where you are, with with you have, right now!".

    Thank you for writing this blog.

    1. nwlorax,

      That is such a cool story. Thank you so much for taking the time to not only check out this site but for leaving your thoughts as well.

      You're going to enjoy building the chugger. Shane was the impetus for the How-to video I made for building a chugger. I, however, can not play one like he can. That is for certain.

      Welcome to this crazy world of cigar box guitars. I hope to see you again soon.


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