The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone whose resonator is a discarded cigar box. Because the instrument is homemade, there is no standard for dimensions, string types or construction techniques. Many early cigar box guitars consisted of only one or two strings that were attached to the ends of a broomstick that was inserted into a cigar box. Other cigar box guitars were more complex, with the builder attempting to simulate a traditional string instrument such as a guitar, banjo, or fiddle.
Trace evidence of cigar box instruments exist from 1840 to the 1860's. The earliest illustrated proof of a cigar box instrument known is an etching of two Civil War Soldiers at a campsite with one playing a cigar box fiddle copyrighted in 1876.
It would seem that the earliest cigar box instruments would be extremely crude and primitive; however, this is not the case. The National Cigar Box Guitar Museum has acquired two cigar box fiddles built in 1886 and 1889 that seem very playable and well built.