Better than a cigar box guitar, Ray designed this simple, 3-stringed instrument so that anyone could have beautiful music w/out spending a lot of money or time (3 strings are a lot easier than 6!) The 5-star reviews on Amazon are good, but the best proof is seeing and hearing Ray and Shirley play, which you can do by clicking here (there are also some documentary videos at westernfolklife.org). Ray invents, repairs, or makes about an instrument a month, and shares more than he sells.
I thought Ray’s gift of music should be able to travel far and wide. To that end, you can download the pdf for free. However you choose to get it, please share it as widely as possible, especially to folks who will keep the gift moving. And if you’ve made a cigar box guitar, and decide to try this out, let me know what you think! (Here’s a summer camp example.) Ray decided on cardboard because he liked the sound, but it’s also much easier to find (and cheaper) than the kind of old, slow-grown wood that makes the best instruments.
Ray has done a lot of different things, but for 20 years in Eureka MT he taught 4th grade and gave all his students the chance to make their own instruments — as well as a V-8 engine (on the classroom floor) to take apart and put back together. I met him at a primitives skills gathering a few years ago and fell in love with him and Shirley (they arrived in a home-made RV), as well as the instrument. On a train trip back east, my family and I stopped off to visit and make a dulcimer. I took notes and pix and put together this little how-to. Here’s more of the story.