I recently bought a fretless 3-string cigar box guitar.

The problem I'm having is holding it securely on my lap. It wants to slide off. The neck wants to fall away from me.

If I play finger-style, I can clasp the body against my torso using my palm. However that doesn't work if I want to pick freely with a plectrum while using a slide.

I've watched some people playing CBGs on YouTube, and all I can see is that none of them seem to be bothered by this problem.

Has anyone else met this problem, and how did you solve it?

If I fit a strap, what considerations are there about where to attach it? Top or bottom of the neck?

3 Answers 3


I'm a builder, and I have to think...I don't have any particular problem holding any of mine while seated. However, when standing, I do use a (home made) strap. One end normally secured to the tailpiece mount and the other just tied off to the headstock behind the nut, "folkie" style.

  • Thanks. When seated without the strap, if you let go with both hands, does the guitar stay still? If so, what's holding it? If not, what part of your hand is always supporting it?
    – slim
    Dec 22, 2011 at 15:12
  • Most standard designs are decidedly neck-heavy. However the whole instrument is very light...I find just the pressure of my wrist ( in pretty much playing position ) to be sufficient.
    – M. Werner
    Dec 26, 2011 at 15:29

Consider studying any film, video, or still pictures of Bo Diddley as he played a cigar box electric and played it well. Also consider that Bo started out as a violin player and then switched to guitar before 1955 after hearing blues legend John Lee Hooker. Holding a violin is no easy chore, so he may have had an edge over other cigar box players.

He had an extra large rectangular box, almost the same size as a stratocaster but hey this legend could kick his legs up while playing it when he was over 60. His shoulder strap looks like it's mounted in the same ball park as 'normal' electric guitars.


I have built about 25 of them and I know what your talking about. Theres no real good answer without a strap ... but .. I do have one that I like to just pick up for 5 minutes and put down.. so I bought a pack of Bluetac, made it soft and wrapped a ball shape over the back/bottom. It makes for a good non slip balance point.

Good luck.

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