The Star Hotel has been plying its trade since 1863, but the funky cigar box guitar hanging on the wall was only a few days old and proudly inscribed ‘No 1’ in Sharpie on the back.
In an uncharacteristic move, I took if off the wall and played it at my gig that night. While it proved to be a bit of a mongrel, there was something strangely compelling about this little junk yard dog of a guitar. I bought it and dubbed it the ‘Box & Dice’ – the beginning of an inspired run of new instrument acquisitions.
While experimenting with the cigar box guitar, using various small liquor bottles as makeshift slides, a very different and rare instrument came my way. A National Reso-lectric baritone guitar; custom built and one-off, it is beautifully finished with rich full low tones. There is only one other in existence, in the National factory collection in California. It is as ‘up town’ as the cigar box is ‘down home’.
As I tried to work out what these instruments did, it whetted my appetite for a new project. The idea for this recording was born… a range of new songs showcasing these interesting new guitars, with the addition of a few classic songs from my touring repertoire played on my trusty, ever present Maton Mastersound electric.
Barely a week before my scheduled recording I happened to make a return visit to the quaint old gold mining town of Yackandandah, in rural Victoria, Australia. Cigar-box guitar maker Shayne Soall, from the tiny Oz Blues & Roots Music Store, greeted me with another new baby: a 4 stringer, with a faceplate featuring the iconic Aussie FB Holden car. Having no idea how to play it, I went into a creative frenzy. Two new songs were written in time to make this recording session!
Inspiration comes in many shapes… more stories about the songs and info about these and my other guitars can be found at www.fionaboyes.com