The King in His Court
Shane Speal, “The King of the Cigar Box Guitar,” talks about the history of an almost forgotten instrument
By Michael Yoder
Fly Magazine Photos by Steve Kale
A simple outdoor shed sits behind a two-story brick home in York.
It doesn’t have a permanent power source, and the myriad of power tools and woodworking equipment littered about come to life by extension chords running from the house. A lawnmower, snow blower and other yard tools sit in the corners.
It’s an average, every day shed by any stretch of the imagination – that is until you notice the boxes.
Stacked on workbenches are hundreds of cigar boxes, old and new, with names like Romeo y Julieta, Punch and The Standard. One box has a handwritten note on the lid – “Good 5¢ cigar, 6 for 25¢.”
From these stacks of boxes in his shed, Shane Speal is helping to bring back to life an instrument that all but disappeared from the common lexicon of music history.