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Why Metal Goddess Lita Ford Plays Cigar Box Guitars

(Image credit: Christopher Ameruoso)

Swamp rocker Christopher Ameruoso recently sent me a video of metal legend Lita Ford playing the blues with his band at a charity event.

When I wrote back and asked if we could score a quick interview with her regarding her unconventional instrument, she said yes. She also revealed details about her upcoming album!

First, the live video:

Lita is in love with her cigar box guitar. The three-string machine was made by David Gilson Sr. of Second Fiddle Guitars in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, the same builder who built Ameruoso’s cigar box guitar and insane Shotgun Guitar. Gilson loaded Lita’s git-fiddle with a C. B. Gitty Toaster Bucker pickup in the neck position for just the right amount of snarl and scream. (See my full interview with Gilson, including exclusive pics of Lita’s cigar box guitar.)

We caught Lita right before the holidays, and she gave us the lowdown.

Whoa! What is the Goddess of All Metal doing with a three-string cigar box guitar?
I had to ask myself the same thing. They are one of the most incredible instruments to play. They're very melodic and only having three strings is a bit of a challenge. Loving the slide also. It's so ZZ Top.

Did you notice a certain freedom or mojo that came with playing a cigar box guitar with only three strings?
Playing a cigar box guitar you feel like you can do no wrong. All the notes seem to work together in a melodic way. Crank the gain on the amp and the volume and you're off and rockin'. Christopher Ameruoso and I usually end up in a full-blown sweat by the time we're done playing cigar box guitars.

You're well known for your use of the B.C. Rich double-neck prototype guitar, along with the Warlock and other great guitars. Do you think your three-string cigar box guitar will also make its way into your live arsenal or on an album?
Funny you should say that; I've already been thinking about it. I think it would be a lot of fun for the fans and definitely for the band to pick out a great cover tune or just a good old jam.

The cigar box guitar is traditionally known as a "back porch instrument" that was played for personal enjoyment. What songs or styles of music do you play at home for your own enjoyment? And are any of them on your cigar box guitar?
David Gilson made me my own cigar box guitar, which stays on my couch, so it's at arms' length whenever I feel the urge to play it. I plug it into either one of Slash's little Marshalls, a 30-watt Line 6 is good or those little Marshalls that clip onto your pants like in School of Rock. They kick ass.

What is so funny about [my cigar box guitar] is that David Gilson put a bottle opener next to the back of the guitar so I can plug it in and open a beer at the same time [laughs]. Also I have some beautiful Taylor acoustics I enjoy playing. They're easy guitars to play at any time of day and for any songs, whether you're writing or learning.

Based on YouTube videos of your latest tour, your guitar chops are more smokin' than ever. Do you have any secrets for practicing and developing your playing?
I don't practice because I never find the time, but I've been trying to focus on my guitar playing more so now than, say, last year. We are working on a new album, and I want the guitar playing on the new album to be off the charts. Gary Hoey is producing, and he and I together are monstrous.

I love you doing this interview on this amazing instrument people are excited about hearing it. Thanks for the interview!

Lita Ford’s latest news and tour dates are at

Shane Speal is "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.