HOBOAxe Cigar Box 6 Sring Guitar by James Mellozzo,... (Review)
Reviewed By: Jac Harrison Purchased from: ManufacturerStreet Price: $675.00 USD with custom case + shippingAbout: HOBOAxe Cigar Box Guitar is a manufacturer of handcrafted, American made, custom, boutique cigar box guitars by master luthier James Mellozzo, in Central Valley, New York. This 6 string model has a solid mahogany cigar box body that is supported by a solid mahogany block and flows into a 24.625 scale 12” radios neck that is dressed with a rosewood dance floor featuring a pearl flame full freeboard inlay with 21 medium silver frets and is topped with a buffalo horn nut in a natural nitro lacquer finish.
Sperzel locking tuners, string through hardtail bridge, (2) dome knobs, strap buttons.
Seymour Duncan Nocaster (N) Damarzio humbucker (B), 3-way toggle, (1) CTS250K volume pot (1) CTS500K push/pull tone pot, and a 1/4" jack.
Bogner Alchemist 1x12 combo
1972 Fender Bassman
Vox AC30 combo
Epiphone Valve JR
1 watt Marshall pocket amp
Dark Horse 10-46 Selector position 1: Just Neck
Surprisingly full with an almost full sized semi-hollowbody single coil neck sound. A nice bright but warm jazz/blues tone.
Selector position 2: Neck and Bridge
An even balance between the neck and bridge, a very usable country southern blues tone with some added hillbilly twang.
Selector position 3: Just Bridge
Very bright with a scoop in the mids -- with the push/pull pot unengaged (down) this is an almost out-of-phase sounding single coil that was great for slide, and when engaged (up) a very bright twang sound that sounded great with some chicken picking.
* Bridge PAF is splittable with a push/pull knob via the tone pot.
Action, Fit & Finish:
The finish is a nitro over a natural wood grain. The action was low without any fret buzz and the intonation was dead on.
Reliability & Durability:
The guitar seems to be well made. It is solid through and through. There was no hum or crackles from the electronics and all knobs and hardware were installed snug and proper.
As a blues/rock player I have a soft spot for the traditional side of the music. To me it just doesn't get any better then hearing an old-timer play the blues on an instrument he/she made using spare parts from around the house. When you think about it, that is how this genre got its start -- poor folk that wanted to express themselves with music, got creative and built guitars from crap they had laying around. Cigar box guitars date back to the early 1700's, but it wasn't until the civil war did the familiar style that we are all accustomed too show up on the scene. The harder the times, the more creative the early "luthiers" got making their guitars from things like water jugs and cigar boxes while using broom handles and spare lubber for the neck. Hell after a long day of battle and/or marching in a wool coat in the middle of the summer, who wouldn't want to kick back and sing about their hardships while playing their newly created instrument. But anyway, so when I spoke to James Mellozzo from HOBOAxe I wanted to test his "macgyvering" skills, and asked him to put me together a six string version with modern electronics to include in the Local Music Gear artist lend program. I figured since he is the master luthier from Nikita Custom Guitars, if anyone could build the "Rolls Royce" of cigar box guitars -- it would be him. So to the review ....
To start this is not your grandfathers cigar box guitar. James does make the traditional 1 - 4 string version but this aint it. This is what I have dubbed a cigar-brid guitar. It offers the player (that's you) the familiar look of a homemade instrument, but plays like a well crafted boutique guitar with all of the bells-and-whistles. I was able to fully enjoy the experience of playing this guitar in the NY subway and at Penn Station (until Johnny law asked me for my permit) using a small battery powered amp (and that was very cool) -- but it really stood out the most when I took it to an open mic. I could have walked up and farted in the mic, but as long as I was playing this guitar no one would forget me. I had people come up and "shoot-the-shit" with me for a good hour after my (3) song set, just to talk about someone they remember from their childhood that used a homemade guitar.
Besides the nostalgia factor, this guitar sounds really good when pushed through a normal size amp. At the open mic I used my Bogner 1x12 with an OD boost pedal, and it sounded better than most of the other guys/gals guitars that were performing that night. I was able to dial in everything from BB to George Thorogood and everything in between. Overall this is an excellent example of a modern twist of an old favorite, that will make you stand out in a big way. I have said it many time before and will say it again -- every guitar player needs to have a cigar box guitar in their collection.
What I would change:
Not a damn thing.
Buy one and play it.
HoBoAxe Cigar Box Guitars
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