Siouxland Stories: Norfolk man creates guitars made from cigar boxes

Siouxland Stories

NORFOLK, Neb. (KCAU) — He’s a carpenter by trade, but music is his passion, and he’s built guitars from objects you’d never imagine.

“The love of music and art, they go hand in hand. You utilize all your five senses when you handle one of these things.”

Jesse Thomas is the owner and operator of Hummingbird Guitars but when we say guitars, it might not be what you’re picturing.

“I was working for a company out here building cabinets and they would throw away a lot of wood. And one day, the love of music and working with my hands, I decided to make a solid body guitar with some mahogany, everything was wrong about it. I still have the thin but I’ve learned a lot since then.”

“I went on to build a cigar box guitar. From there, just an array of different styles.”

Those styles include everything from those cigar box guitars, to guitars made from skateboards, first aid kits, and even hub caps.

A pool cue and a hot sauce box are the key components for one single-string instrument.

“I just had to kick this out. You can actually play it like this if you want, or you can unscrew it.”

Harkening back to the days where people didn’t have the money for real instruments, so they’d grab anything they could find, a cigar box, a broom stick, and a piece of wire.

“It’s got a real funky sound to it.”

The inspiration for a new instrument can strike Thomas at any time.

“My gears are always turning, I think about it all hours of the day. It could be 10 instruments down the road but there’s always something happening up here. The shop is my safe space.”

While Thomas said he’s never short on ideas for new guitars, he’s frequently short on space.

“Right now, lack of space, my shop is very tiny. Very functional, but sometimes it gets a little tough moving around in there.”

But once he holds the finished products, he said it’s all worth it.

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