Here's how this New Brunswick maker transforms cigar boxes into charming guitars

Bob Belyea demonstrates how, with a bit of effort and some foraged materials, he's learned to make new music.

Bob Belyea demonstrates how, with a bit of effort and some foraged materials, he's learned to make new music

Bob Belyea. (CBC Arts)

Bob Belyea is a high school teacher by day and a craftsman by night, making functional guitars out of vintage cigar boxes. No two pieces are the same; each Mountain Boys Guitar Co. instrument is a unique object that will never be replicated exactly, always with its own distinct sound and look. And in this video, you'll see what it takes for Belyea to make one of his signature acoustic guitars.

Watch the video:

Bob Belyea's cigar box guitars

5 years ago
Duration 3:23
Bob Belyea demonstrates how, with a bit of effort and some foraged materials, he's learned to make new music.

The name Mountain Boys Guitar Co. is a nod to Belyea's grandfather, whom he lived next door to growing up. Belyea remembers: "We lived slightly up on a hill, my brothers and I. We visited frequently, and when we would arrive, a lot of times my grandfather would say, 'The mountain boys are here!' When I started building guitars, one of my first thoughts was, 'This is something that my grandfather would have found really cool.'"

Belyea's Quispamsis, New Brunswick garage is his workspace. When the door is open in the summertime, neighbours may hear the pleasant pluck of guitar strings as Belyea tunes and tries his new guitars, readying them for sale.

Bob Belyea. (CBC Arts)

Why cigar boxes? The artisan first laid eyes on a cigar box guitar at a farmers' market, where a woman was selling some that her husband had built.

"I thought they were cool," Belyea said. "I thought they were something that was approachable enough that I could build. I built two for Christmas presents that following fall, and liked the process, and just kept going. So after a year's time, I suddenly had eight or nine cigar boxes just sitting around that house, and I needed to find a home for them, so it kind of grew from there."

Bob Belyea's cigar boxes. (CBC Arts)

Keep up with Mountain Boys Guitar Co. here.

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists online or on CBC Television. Tune in Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT).


Shauna Chase is a freelance writer and editor, and Alex Vietinghoff is a freelance videographer and video editor. They are the founders of The Manatee, Atlantic Canada's largest satirical news website. They recently completed post-production on Beerocracy, an independent feature documentary on the growing craft brewing industry in New Brunswick.


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