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One-String Teardrop Guitar, Springtown, TX

Updated: Jan 10, 2022


This primitive one-string guitar was a labor of love for the builder, who planned out a neck-through-body design with a bent wood teardrop shape. Although its history is unknown, the patina and cracked varnish that covers the instrument gives the feel of something created at least 100 years ago.

Like so many instruments in the Cigar Box Museum collection, this one-string guitar was found at an estate sale. In this case, it was in Springtown, TX at the home of an elderly woman back in 2018. I acquired it from an antique dealer on eBay in 2021.


The guitar arrived without a string or bridge. I crafted a new wooden floating bridge and strung it up with a .022 bronze wound banjo string. The loop end of the string fit perfectly in the nail that was placed at the butt end as a string anchor.

The frets are large roofing staples which were pounded into the hand carved neck. The positioning of the frets on this 17" scale neck is incorrect for either chromatic or diatonic tuning. This is a common mistake seen in many antique cigar box guitars and DIY instruments.

The teardrop body has a top and back made from rough-cut 1/4" wood. The sides appear to be an 1/8" thick piece of wood that has been bent around the teardrop shape.

A closeup of the angled headstock shows a hand whittled tuner. The headstock and neck are all one piece of wood. In fact the entire neck goes through the body and is heavily routed out inside.

The wooden nut has split in two at the center where a groove was originally cut. I have placed a section of roofing staple at the nut as a floating "zero fret" to make the instrument playable again. The guitar is loud and resonant, however, the incorrect frets deliver a scale that is out-of-tune to a normal western scale.

Here are the specs of the One-String Guitar from Springtown, TX

Scale length: Approx 17"

Materials used:

  • Wood

  • Metal Roofing Staples

  • Slotted screws

  • Nails

  • Varnish

Dimensions: 21 x 7.25 x 2.75" (53 x 18.5 x 7cm)


Cigar Box Guitar Museum Catalog # AUN.2021.001


Currently in curation and slated to be shown at the Cigar Box Guitar Museum in New Alexandria PA at a future date.



359 views9 comments

9 comentarios


Chris P.
Chris P.
18 ene 2022

Those soundholes are the embodiment of the KISS method.

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Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor
18 ene 2022

I looks like it was carved out of a milled plank of wood. This is the way I do it.

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Shane Speal
Shane Speal
18 ene 2022
Contestando a

The sides were bent. Such a curious instrument!

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Troy Mathews
Troy Mathews
17 ene 2022

Is the neck carved from a tree branch? With the angle of the headstock it looks as if the builder spent some time carving it out.

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Shane Speal
Shane Speal
18 ene 2022
Contestando a

Looks like a plank of wood and not a tree branch. Just all hand carved!

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Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor
06 ene 2022

Interesting piece. The lack of musicality is offset with some pretty good wood work. Love that stapled fingerboard (a possible source for dating; depression era?). This would make a better diddly bow than a fretted instrument.

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Mark
Mark
06 ene 2022

Someone put a little bit of work into that. It is not a simple box with a stick added to it.

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