Peter Thorne poses with some cigar box guitars he’s made or collected over the years similar to the one he’ll be teaching students to make this summer. (Photo submitted)

Peter Thorne poses with some cigar box guitars he’s made or collected over the years similar to the one he’ll be teaching students to make this summer. (Photo submitted)

Peter Thorne hosting Cigar Box Workshop this summer

‘It’s a perfect opportunity to do it outdoors during the summer’

With many events cancelled this summer, there’s never been a better time to learn an instrument or, in an upcoming cigar box guitar (CBG) workshop’s case, make your own instrument.

Peter Thorne is hosting and teaching the Summer 2020 CBG Workshop out of his home in 108 Mile Ranch and has lived in the area for the last 32 years. A woodworker by trade and a musician by vocation, spending time as a travelling musician as a young man, Thorne said that as he approaches retirement he’s taken to crafting and playing cigar box guitars a unique guitar variant made from a wooden crate.

Thorne said the guitars were first developed back in the late 1800s by people who couldn’t afford regular guitars and made simple three to four-string guitars with cigar boxes as a resonator. They made a comeback when he was young in the late 90s and said they’re a fun little instrument to both learn and play.

“Since I retired from being the travelling musician, I’ve been teaching guitar for the last 30 years in 100 Mile House,” Thorne said, adding he still likes to play farmer’s markets around the area but had many of his plans cut short due to COVID-19.

It was because of this newfound free time and the success of the last CBG Workshop he held in November of 2019 at the South Cariboo Rec Centre that led him to decide to host another workshop this summer. Rather than host it at a rec centre or art gallery, however, he’s chosen to host in his own backyard to ensure social distancing can be practised in the open air.

Students will be issued a kit with everything they need to make their guitar and will build it with Thorne’s help and eventually learn to play them. He’s designed them so it can be assembled with a screwdriver and glue with more focus on decorating the instruments and learning to play them.

He aims for the program to be eight weeks long beginning on July 6 and running every Tuesday noon to 4 p.m. until August 24, though if the weather is poor on a Tuesday, Thorne said he may change the dates to Friday as needed. He also hopes they’ll have time at the end of the workshop to do a small live performance on a stage he has on his property.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to do it outdoors during the summer,” Thorne said.

Anyone can sign up for the workshop but Thorne requires the parents of students 10 years and younger to accompany their child and encourages students 11 years and older to come on their own. The boxes they’ll be using to make the guitar were made by Thorne to mimic the style of old cigar boxes with no actual tobacco products ever having been stored in them. He’ll be charging $199 per student and that will include all the hardwood parts to make the instrument, instruction on assembly and lessons to play.

“I’m limiting the groups to four to five students and if there is a good turnout then I’ll create another class but I’ll be happy if I only get four or five students, that would be awesome,” Thorne said.

Their home is located at 108 Mile Ranch, Hansen Court with interested students asked to reach out to Peter or his wife Gail Thorne at 250-706-3540 or for more information or the RSVP by June 26.

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