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Articles and Other Writings

Shane Speal blogs for Guitar World for the column, The DIY Musician and posts articles at Cigar Box Nation.

GUITAR WORLD - Electric Cigar Box Guitars and other lies

GUITAR WORLD - The Djentstick

GUITAR WORLD - Five Reasons You Suck at Slide Guitar

GUITAR WORLD - Turn Your Bathroom Into A Recording Studio Echo Chamber

GUITAR WORLD - Weesay, the Oil Can Guitar Master pt. 1

GUITAR WORLD - Weesay's Guitar, pt 2

GUITAR WORLD - Three Rules to Follow When You Suck at Guitar

GUITAR WORLD - How to Build a 2x4 Lap Steel Guitar pt 1

GUITAR WORLD - How to Build a 2x4 Lap Steel Guitar pt 2

GUITAR WORLD - California Drummer Completely Reinvents Guitar String with SlapStick

GUITAR WORLD - Frankenstein Guitars and the Pizza Dobro

GUITAR WORLD - Freak of the Week:  1996 Musicvox Spaceranger Prototype

GUITAR WORLD - Freak of the Week: Barn Wood Guitar

Coffin case lap steel guitar, Seasick Steve, The Budrows and more. Jan 29, 2015

 Folk Art Cello, CBGs in Poland, Free Lessons and more.  Jan 15, 2015

The Greatest Rock Legend You've Never Heard Of...  Shane's Personal Newsletter.  Jan 12, 2015

When the Adrenaline Rush Leaves...  Shane's Personal Newsletter.  Jan 5, 2015

Let's rock 2015.  Jan 2, 2015

Three gifts to you for the Holidays.  Dec 24, 2014

Cigar Box Nation Newsletter - Tips, lessons, cool instruments.  Dec 12, 2014

Weird, Freakish Instruments   Shane's Personal Newsletter.  Dec 2, 2014

Cigar Box Nation News: Mud Pie Canjo, New CBG songs in Tab, DIY Christmas, much more...   Nov 25, 2014

Steam Whistles and Cigar Box Guitars   Shane's Personal Newsletter   Nov 18, 2014

Washboard Wizardry   Shane's Personal Newsletter   Nov 12, 2014

Weird Musical Instruments - An appreciation   Shane's Personal Newsletter  Oct 29, 2014

SNAKE OIL FANS RULE - Shane's Personal Newsletter   Oct 23, 2014


Cigar Box Nation News - Featured Instrument + Lots of Cool Stuff   Oct 3, 2014

Cigar Box Guitar Season: The Shane Speal newsletter.   Oct 1, 2014

A Visit to Matty Baratto's Guitar Shop - Hollywood's Cigar Box Guitar Builder to the Stars  Sept 17, 2014

Cigar Box Nation News - Aug 8, 2014


Shane's Newsletter

How to Set Up a Seasick Steve "Three String Trance Wonder" Guitar 

Originally published at Cigar Box Nation.

Thanks to Seasick Steve's buddy, Davey (the maker of the hubcap guitar) for helping on this article.

Seasick Steve's "3-String Trance Wonder" guitar is the stuff of legend.  The guitar was originally given to Steve with only three strings left, and he's kept it that way ever since. 

Seasick's guitar is nothing but an old Japanese hollowbody guitar from the 60's, most likely from the Teisco factory.  (The body is the same as a Teisco EP-7.)  It probably had two pickups to begin with, but now sports a single 1950's Harmony pickup duct taped to the top.  

As a hardcore fan, I had to make a version of this axe for myself.  Luckily, I had almost the same model in my arsenal, a Sorrento hollowbody of the same period, so I set up the strings just like his.

Here's how to set up a 3-string Trance Wonder  

(String gauges and tuning, low to high):

  • [Remove bottom E string]
  • .049w - tuned to G 
  • [Remove D string]
  • .028w - tuned to G
  • .018 - tuned to B
  • [Remove high E string]

Tuning: Open G: GGB  (middle G is one octave higher than bottom)

Strings are .049w, .028w, .018p. from a pack of D'Addario EXL115s.

One of the unusual things of the Three String Trance Wonder is the positioning of the strings.  There's a space between the first and second strings.

Ok, have fun snipping strings from your guitars!  I'll be back soon with some video lessons on How to Play Like Seasick Steve!

-Shane Speal


The Beginner's Lesson: How to Play Cigar Box Guitar 

I've had some people tell me that my beginner's lessons are too advanced for the person who just picked up a cigar box guitar.  Let me step back from all the detailed cigar box guitar lessons and give you the very basics:  holding the pick and slide plus how to place the slide on the strings.  

I hope that helps!  BTW, I have cigar box guitars just like this one for sale at