Use The Gambler's 6 Step Guide to Build Your Best Cigar Box Guitar Ever

Everyone knows The Gambler, that classic country song popularized by crooner Kenny Rogers.

But what only a few people know is that The Gambler isn’t just a smokey rail-car story sung by a velvet-voiced country star.

The Gambler is a 6 step guide to making your own cigar box guitar.

So lean back and take a look at this study of how you, the cigar box guitar builder, benefit from a The Gambler's 6 guide.

With cigar box guitars, you got to...

Know when to hold ‘em

Trust in your abilities

Remember learning to tie your shoelaces? It was maddening.

When does the bunny go over, and through? Or is it under, and around?

Eventually, you learned. You didn’t think about Mr. Bunny Rabbit going “over, under, around, and through…” this morning. You simply tied your laces.

Similarly, if you’re new to making cigar box guitars, you’ve got some challenges ahead.

But know this - a cigar box guitar is an instrument of simple means and ways. And you are more than capable of making your own.

Do some research.

There’re more than enough free plans and how-to videos available online. And there’re plenty of people in all sorts of internet cigar box guitar communities that happily answer questions and give advice.

Above all, trust in your abilities.

Know when to fold ‘em

Your cigar box guitar is perfectly imperfect

You love your dog. In fact, your dog is the best dog. You also remember how your best bud used to pee on the floor.

Through that, and the barking at squirrels, and whining during thunderstorms, you know your dog is the best.

Your dog is perfectly imperfect. And so is your cigar box guitar.

Part of what makes your cigar box guitar so special is that you’ve made it with your own hands. In this way, there’s a piece of you in it.

Every little mishap on your CBG is an opportunity to learn and grow and is a wag of the tail in a room of chewed shoes.

Forget about making mistakes when you build your cigar box guitar; it is yours, and perfectly imperfect.

Know when to walk away

Anger serves no purpose in making your cigar box guitar

You’re standing in front of your child. You look at him and see his defiant face in return.

He doesn’t see why his curfew should be 11:00pm, or why you should have a problem with him standing in front of you after coming home at 12:00am.

Yelling and hollering and generally carrying-on is a natural reaction. But history has shown that reacting in anger hasn’t yielded you the best results.

When you do make a mistake while building your cigar box guitar, step away for a moment. Take a breath. Leave the room. Grab a pop from the ‘fridge.

Give yourself a little space from your project. It’s art, after all.

Anger serves no purpose in making your cigar box guitar.

Know when to run

Shelve your project for another day

A lifetime of distance from your sister isn’t made up in one afternoon. All the harsh words exchanged and all the hard feelings harbored aren’t forgotten in a phone call.

Building a relationship takes time. And while you’re building, old things are stirred up and past mistakes remembered.

So you step away from the building process and allow the foundational blocks of your relationship to settle. You return to it when you’ve both enjoyed some distance and time.

Your cigar box guitar also doesn’t have to be made in a day. There’s no race and nothing to win.

If you become frustrated, and stepping away for a breather doesn’t work for you, put your cigar box guitar project away for a bit.

It’s okay to shelve your project for another day.

You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table

Always be mindful, present, and grateful

It’s easy to get comfortable at work. You can fire up the computer, open up email, fart around on Facebook, and tell yourself that it’s all loosely work-related, or worse, that you deserve it.

Then you’ve got one project that goes undone, a deadline passed without completion, and things piling up on your to-do list.

You’ve got it pretty good. Why while your day away?

We can make a cigar box guitar as a form of leisure. We’ve got parts, resources, plans, advice, and inspiration nearly anywhere we care to look.

Unlike makers of handmade musical instruments many years ago, we have the distinct privilege of making art that makes art - a cigar box guitar that makes music - without living in dire straits.

If things get a little tough when building, remember how good it is that you’re graced to build at all.

Your art will be at it’s best when you’re mindful, present, and above all, grateful.

There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done

Share your art

After you’ve washed and waxed your ‘69 Chevy Nova SS, what’s the first thing you do? You take it for a spin, maybe head down to the ice cream shop, or cruise the strip downtown.

You’re proud of your work and should be. Plus, conversations with admirers get excited. You exchange stories, encourage each other, and find inspiration from the interactions.

You know all those pictures you saw that inspired you to make your own CBG? All those videos of incredible guitar players making a stick, cigar box, and 3 strings sing like nothing you’d seen before?

Those makers and players inspired you to make your own art. When you’ve finished your cigar box guitar, share it with someone.

Your CBG is a wonderful work of handmade art. Share your art. And you may inspire someone to do the same.

“Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep

And when he finished speakin'
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep”