Although cigar box instruments have been around since the 1800s, few are familiar with them today. According to Snowden, the first known photo of an instrument using a cigar box is a fiddle dating back to the Civil War.
Musicians who could not afford one originally made the instruments. "A lot of old blues guys started out by making cigar box guitars," said the east Cobb resident. "Bo Diddley, a famous blues guy, plays an electric guitar shaped like a cigar box because he started out that way."
Snowden visits cigar stores where he selects and purchases the boxes for his guitars. They take about three weeks to make. "I take my time," Snowden said. "If I sell them online, I want them to be perfect."
Ranging between $200-250, Snowden's electric cigar box guitars retain a vintage look. "They look old and really cool, but they're new," he said.
Although the instruments sound like a guitar, each has its own unique sound. "All my life I've played a 6-string guitar," said the former bass guitarist for the rock group Band de Soleil that opened for the Indigo Girls and other well-known acts. "Suddenly you're faced with three-string and, in a weird way, it's almost like starting over."
"It's a challenge. It's something different," said the Louisiana native and married father of one. "It's getting back to basics."
In his recent CD, "Summer in the Fields - Cigar Box Guitar Instrumentals" Snowden showcases his cigar box guitars. The one-of-a-kind collection includes solo cigar box guitar pieces as well as accompanied pieces. It is available at CD Baby, iTunes and www.snowdenguitars.com. For more information, call (404) 918-0886.
"There are no rules with these guitars that can be any shape, any size and any sound," Snowden said. "From beginning to end, it's so much fun."