How to Build The Mailbox Guitar

Updated: Jan 10


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Back in 1998, I was in the lowest point of my life: My marriage was over. I was living in a tiny apartment above a vacuum repair shop with no TV, no internet and no one around. All I had was my music collection and a desire to play like my heroes. One particular weekend, I found myself desperately wanting a metal bodied Dobro guitar so I could play slide guitar blues like Son House.

It was 2am on a Saturday night when I found myself wide awake, nothing to do and $15 in my pocket. I decided to go to Walmart, the one place in town that was open 24 hours, and find materials that I could build an instrument using the cash I had. After trolling around the empty store, I walked past a cheap metal mailbox in the hardware area and the voice inside my head screamed, “There’s my dobro!” It was $12 on sale, so grabbed it and made a bee-line for the counter. (continued below...)

The next morning, I sacrificed an old Kay acoustic guitar I owned. It was the perfect corpse to extract parts: bolt-on neck, floating bridge and trapeze tailpiece. Within four hours, the mailbox guitar was complete. It was perfect. It sounded just like a metal bodied dobro and it was mine!

After 20 years, this guitar still plays and sounds fantastic. It’s been used on many of my albums and appeared in my concerts.

The following steps aren’t exact instructions to build your own Mailbox Guitar. They simply show my improvised building method to make this unique instrument. Sometimes there isn’t an exact science to making a poor man’s guitar. You just have to make it up as you go along.