I was looking for some more slide instruments this year to add to my collection. I had considered a Weisenborn lap slide, but after talking to my friend Henry Rust (an acoustic instrument aficionado), I decided against it. It was too quiet and delicate for my style of playing -- I tend to beat the fuck out of my instruments.
Then a thought occurred: I wanted a three string slide cigar box guitar. I set about finding one, looking around on the internet and calling into some local guitar shops, but I ended up where I usually end up: Amazon. It was there that I found this three string cigar box slide guitar, complete with a pickup, for $34. Jesus, what a deal.
It came in the mail later that week, and I assembled it within minutes, and plugged it into my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amplifier. From there, I started in with some overdrive pedals: my OCD, which is a crunchy overdrive with a nice gain and cut to it, and my Crybaby wah pedal. I recently purchased an Ibanez Tubescreamer ts808 35th anniversary pedal (a nice pedal for collectors), which generally gives me a warm tube amp overdrive. But with the cigar box guitar, all it did was feedback like a motherfucker -- and when I put the Crybaby into it as well, it really lit up. I'm into feedback if it's done right: I dig the insanity and the offensiveness of the noise, all in moderation, of course.
So I started constructing a song on the cigar box guitar, and I reached out to Ali, the cinematographer from the NPR Orange Grove video and the Funk & Wagnall LA Sessions, and we set a date for a week later to shoot a video of me playing my new instrument. It gave me a little time to experiment with what I wanted, and what I didn't want. I knew that I wanted the song to be instrumental, and short -- people's attention spans (mine included) are getting shorter and shorter, so I wanted to pack a lot of musical action into a little time frame. I condensed the song into under three minutes (I think the finished project clocks in around 2:40).
Ali and Asal came over to the house, and we filmed in my recording room. The pedals were all over the floor just by chance; nothing was staged. It's a small room, so it was a pretty intimate shoot (which is a nice term for cramped and stuffy), with a lot of closeups and cool angles. I hadn't recorded the song take that would make the video yet, so I just looped and played along with general ideas while they filmed, figuring that I'd make the definitive track after filming. I know that I play with my mouth a lot; it's involuntary, I really can't help it. Looking at all the footage after the shoot, I had no idea that my mouth moved that much.
After three hours, Ali and Asal left me with the footage, and I recorded the definitive studio track that would be used in the video. The same day I started editing the rough cut of the video. Within two days I had the rough cut done and I brought it to Ali, who really knows his shit with editing and all that. He went to film school; I'm just some dude with a laptop and a home recording studio. But I do alright; Ali said so. We took the cut and worked with it for a total of seven hours, and then, when we were both cool with it, I put it up online.
For thirty bucks, this instrument is one hell of a good time. Here's the link to Amazon for any of my friends who want to pick one up; it's just cool to have around. The guitar comes with a glass slide, but I recommend just buying a Fender steel slide; it's much better.
Oh, right, and here's the video.
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