Creative Collaboration: Custom Cigar Box Guitars by Ron Chandler

Creative Collaboration: Custom Cigar Box Guitars by Ron Chandler

From time to time, Anderson Design Group founder Joel Anderson meets someone who truly inspires him. Recently, Ron Chandler, a local retiree and novice artisan cigar box guitar maker contacted Joel to ask permission to use ADG imagery to decorate his folk art guitars. When Joel saw Ron's work, he was immediately drawn to his folksy, quirky, soulful sense of style and craftsmanship. Joel immediately gave Ron "carte blanche" to use any ADG creation he liked to decorate his guitars. Since Joel loves folk art made from found objects (like the piece he made shown above,) he was excited about collaborating with Ron to produce a one-of-a-kind collection of officially licensed ADG-inspired folk instruments.  

To quote Joel directly: "I love folk art, outsider art, and hand-crafted experimental creativity. I also love gritty soul and blues music. Ron's handiwork plus our classic poster art is a cool combination—a totally new medium for having fun with ADG's collection of 2,000+ original poster designs. I really dig how Ron invents, creates, and executes—he's the real deal!"

Each of Ron's cigar box guitars are custom made by hand, and are artfully distinct. His unique creations are available on his Etsy store.

Here is an interview we did with Ron...

ADG: How did you get started making cigar box guitars?

Ron: A few years ago I was finding old 60’s teisco guitar parts and making playable guitars. My brother made a cigar box guitar first and got me interested. I looked at some web sites ,watched a few video’s and was hooked.  For something so basic and simple they sound surprisingly good. I’ve really enjoyed learning, creating, and even copying, always trying to make a better guitar.

ADG: How do you source the electronics, and how do you make your own guitar necks?  

Ron: In the past I’ve recycled electronic parts when possible, and made some from components I found at electronic supply stores. I even made an electric guitar pick up once using copper wire and 3 magnets. And it worked!  Now I purchase most electronics from suppliers specializing in Cigar Box parts. I have a couple of friends who are in the music business, they’re a big help! 

I make my necks from Poplar, mostly using wood I find.  I get a kick out of finding old wood and giving it new life.  I use a router, several saws, and lots of sandpaper to shape the necks. In the beginning I used coat hangers as fret wire. I use the real thing now.

ADG: What inspires you to create?   

Ron: It’s the “ah-ha” moments that make this so much fun. I’ll often see or find a “treasure”, and it’s off to the shop. I go to a lot of second hand  stores, estate sales, and even check out dumpsters every now and then.

ADG: What do you enjoy most about your creative and production processes? 

Ron: Like I said it’s the “ah-ha” moments. Often I’ll have an idea then work through the process of how make it happen with the tools I have. I’ve made several  jigs, templates, and even made a few tools.  When you work through an idea and “figure it out, it’s a blast, even for an old guy!

ADG: How did you start collaborating with Anderson Design Group to feature their art on your creations?  

Ron: I had started using art (old cowboy postcards, and fruit box labels) I was finding on ebay. I had the idea to make guitars with a Nashville theme and remembered ADG.  I’ve given their art as Christmas presents in the past. Not wanting to violate copyright laws I sent a note to Joel asking about using his artwork. He’s encouraged me and has been great to work with.

ADG: What do you like about ADG's poster art? 

Ron: It’s on point. Each piece, in my opinion, captures the magic of the place or event without complicating or overdoing it. No glitter or loud colors. They do a great job at subject selection. I can see a poster and am taken back to a memory, or even to my “bucket list”, then on to my happy place.

ADG: What advice do you have for anyone who has an interest in making hand-crafted instruments?  

Ron: I tried to teach my kids to always do your best and have fun! Making guitars; don’t be afraid to experiment, look for ways to improve, learn from others. I’m testing a new bridge now… I’ll let you know how that works out! 

ADG: Where are your original creations available for sale? 

Ron: I’ve got an Etsy site. I also try to attend local craft shows.


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