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This coming August bank holiday weekend Elstead will welcome the arrival of Swamp Train, all the way from Switzerland.

Formed back in 2010 Swamp Train are a full-on cigar box guitar blues band. They've had some personnel changes since formation but they are now a four piece consisting of Big Blowin’ Blaze on vocals, cigar box guitar and harmonica, Alain Pache aka Cut Finger on lead cigar box guitars and backing vocals, Andy Duggan aka Jus’Skin on cigar box bass and background growling and now Rattlebrained on washboard, percussion, bones and backing vocals. They're all set to lift the roof from the Elstead pavilion at this weekend's second Barrelhouse Beer and CBG festival.

Find out more about Swamp Train from their website.

And here's a little taster to whet your appetite (see you in Elstead):

My Essential Power Tools

Strolling Tone —  December 9, 2011

I was just clearing out my workshop a little in preparation for a build I hope to complete over the christmas holidays, so I thought I'd share with you my list of power tools that I wouldn't be without.

I'll start with my belt sander. It's really intended for sanding floors and large flat surfaces, but I clamp in a vice with the belt facing upward and then hold the work carefully against it. This is high on my list of essential power tools.

Then there is my drill press. Nothing fancy, just a regular electric drill in a vertical press. But this simple assembly helps me to drill perfectly straight holes for tuners and pickups.

I also have an electric planer which I have found invaluable in preparing necks. And another tool that I use on every build is my Dremel. I have a selection of different Dremel tools but I tend to use sanding drums and grinding disks the most.

A tool that I don't use often but I wouldn't be without is my band saw. I picked this up from a college where it had been used in their woodworking shop. It can do all sorts of wonderful things but I use it mainly for cutting necks and hardwood body parts.

I also have a disk sander and an orbital sander which are both used occasionally along with an electric jig saw that I sometimes use for ruining cigar boxes. I don't think that it's necessary to have all these electric power tools but they certainly help the build process.

I didn' find time to have a go at building a cigar box guitar for myself until the winter of 2009 / 201o. I'd gathered some parts, including several cigar boxes of various sizes and lengths of hardwood, mainly oak, that looked suitable for necks. I'd joined Cigar Box Nation some months earlier and studied the plans and designs used by many of the experienced builders in that community. This is what I came up with.

This uses the simplest of through neck designs. I used a piece of oak which was shaped using a rasp and some chisels. Big bolts were used for both the nut and bridge and two piezzo transducers were wired in series as pickups. I played with these for some time, trying to minimise the chances of feedback. In the end I wrapped them both in tissue and placed one under the bridge and the other under the strings closer to the neck. The combination seemed to provide both a good tone with minimal feedback.

See what you think of this box in action: