I got a call recently from a really nice guy (John) from the Cleveland area, who wanted me to build a couple cigar box guitars for him. The more we talked the more interesting things became. John wanted one guitar for himself and one for his friend Tony.
It appears Tony is a novice player and John wanted something Tony could play easily with a slide. So, here comes 'Torano'.
'Torano' is a handmade electro/acoustic TotalRojo three-string cigar box guitar built on the platform of a very colorful Casa Torano cigar box.
The neck is oak with scarf joint headstock overlayed with Spanish cedar. A maple fingerboard sports 21 medium/medium gauge hand dressed and seated frets. Brass position markers are easy to spot on the player side of the neck. Soundhole covers are custom drawer pulls. Open back tuners stretch the 5-4-3 strings from a standard acoustic set over a maple bridge to a Corian nut. A Piezo transducer pickup is wired to an output jack for amplification. String action is set up for either finger style or slide play, and the guitar is tuned to open G (G-D-g), which accommodates hundreds of songs.
A graphic of famed blues player Robert Johnson decorates the back of the body.
John wanted something a little more elaborate for himself.
I chose a Padron cigar box for the foundation for 'Devil Dancer'.
A scarf jointed walnut neck with Spanish cedar overlay carries a maple fingerboard with 20 hand dressed and seated medium/medium gauge frets, corian nut, and open back tuners. A Indian head nickel finishes off the fingerboard. A walnut string retainer tailstock guides the 5-4-3 strings from a standard set of acoustic strings over the Cocobolo bridge and saddle created from a vintage skeleton key.
A TotalRojo magnetic pickup wired to an output jack amplifies sound. But, this little devil sounds pretty good acoustically, too.
John told me he really likes the legend of Robert Johnson, Mississippi Delta blues player, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to learn how to play the blues.
So, with this in mind, the graphic on the back of the body should rattle John's bass string.