Creative Profile: Full Moon Box Guitars

We came across Full Moon Box Guitars while browsing Facebook, we immediately saw the craftsmanship and uniqueness of these beautifully hand crafted guitars.  We love to share the creative and innovative work being made in Calderdale so we got in touch with FMBG founder and musician Scott Johnson to find what came first, the box or the guitar….

Can you tell us a little bit about Full Moon Box Guitars?

Full Moon Guitars operates from my workshop in Hipperholme where I make 3 & 4 string guitars mainly in the tradition of Blues, Country and Folk music.  They’re both acoustic and electric.  I hope they appeal to established musicians who would like something a little different to play as well as beginners looking for a new hobby, they’re very accessible, less daunting than a conventional guitar but in every way an instrument in their own right.  I suppose if FMBG had an ethos it would be to provide an alternative to accepted classifications of what defines a musical instrument, an alternative to buying from large guitar companies and to provide musicians with a truly one of a kind instrument.

What made you start making them?

I’ve played guitar since I was a teenager, I’ve always tinkered with and built things so I think it was a connection of all those aspects that came together.
That and a fascination with routes music and the homemade attitude towards music.  I always saw guitar making as a sort of mystery, but i made my first one and it worked( i was the only person who could play it, but it worked) I researched, made another, it played better and carried on from there.
It’s fascinating for me the idea of creating an instrument that’s going out into the world and will hopefully be around long after I am gone, still being played.

What came first the box or the desire to build a guitar from a box?

The idea of box instruments is certainly not mine.  Cigar box fiddles were used in early Country music and can be seen in pictures of the American Civil war and cigar box guitars were born out of necessity in early Blues.   Artists such as BB King, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Carl Perkins all started out on a cigar box guitar.  They also featured in the trenches in WW1.  The re-use and re-imagining of objects came from necessity for me too.  It combines with my love of searching through junk shops and online and looking at objects for what they could be, beyond what they where intended to be.  Now I see the whole world as a potential spare parts box.
I’ve used 1930’s writing boxes for bodies, knife blades for guitar bridges and I’ve carved Dominoes for components too.
I like the connection with history and objects taking on a new life.  There are somethings I can’t make myself like tuning pegs, electric parts, I always buy quality hardwood to carve my guitar necks.

How long does each guitar take to make?

Each guitar takes a week to make plus a day or two just playing and fine tuning.I tend to build two at once.I use predominately hand tools in my workshop rather than power tools. Hand tools are much more tactile and provide a nicer environment to work in, it’s a slower pace but gives me time to think through new ideas as I work.I like to think this reflects in my instruments.

How do you experiment with the sound of the guitar?

Part research and part experimentation. I like to try new things and if something works well I will continue to incorporate it into my guitars. I’m at a stage where I can tailor their sound but will always continue to experiment.The most exciting part for me is stringing a new guitar up for the first time and hearing it’s character.I’m always pleasantly surprised.It’s all about harmony.A mahogany neck or an expensive pickup won’t make a good sounding guitar on their own, everything contributes to a whole to define it’s sound, materials, construction,size,shape,electronics and ultimately the musician.

Where can people buy them or give them a test drive (so to speak)?

Each guitar I make is one of a kind so I plan on posting each on my Facebook page and website as they’re built.  I’m more than happy to take a commission if anyone would like any designs or ideas individual to themselves or their style of playing.  I’ll build anything with strings Ukes, Canjos, Dulcimers.  I’d love to build some instruments for kids.If anyone is interested in trying one they are welcome otherwise I’ll post a demo video to accompany each guitar. I will take some out to play live soon too.  I have one of my guitars at the Alexandra beer house too.  I’m selling for around £150.   Some will be more or less depending on features.

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