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While its design and features may not be for everyone, the new Lace Electric Cigar Box Guitar is certainly unique. We were impressed with the sound, and the price isn’t off the charts. Whether it’s right for your arsenal will be up to you, but you can read our review below…
You often hear stories of old timey blues players where they made guitars out of whatever they had (watch the first 5 minutes of “It Might Get Loud” for reference, if need be) – spare radio parts were pretty common, as well as wooden cigar boxes for the body. Lace has brought that part of the past into the 21st Century, with some added twists.
First off, this is a fairly odd instrument, especially if you’re a player who usually only plays a standard 6-string guitar in standard tuning. We received the three-string version for review and it came to us strung G – D – G, note that there is also a 4-string version available. The maple neck is a 24.75 scale, with a square-ish profile and 20 frets. Yep, no vintage C or V shapes, just square. It has no truss rod to speak of, either. Body wise, it’s a mahogany plywood box, with a cigar box look, with full-color graphics and metal edging details.▼ Article continues below ▼
It does have a pickup, which is called the Matchbook, which is based off of their Alumitone design. The volume control is located on the upper side. It’s a push pull too, for added tonal options.
Plugging it in, sound wise, is kind of cool. It can be twangy enough, and with a bit of overdrive, it can get greasy and dirty. Organic is probably the best way to describe its overall tone. Our test version, though, suffered from a bad setup; it rattled, buzzed and clanged a lot, and needed a real serious setup to address action and intonation. Since there’s no relief adjustment, it just feels odd. We hate to say it, but it kind of felt like a toy.
So, who’s this for? It is unique, but why? It does have cool, twangy-meets-earthy and dirty tone, but finding some way of making it practical could be difficult to justify. For the player who doesn’t dabble in open tunings, this is kind of an odd duck to tackle. Perhaps if we got the 4-string version it might make more sense overall, but ultimately we just didn’t bond with it. Maybe a player with a background in banjos or diddley bows would appreciate the concept a lot better.
With a street price of $349, it’s certainly not priced too badly, but its appeal makes us scratch our heads. The pickup sounds good if you manage to set up the instrument, but we’re struggling to find a real application for something that just didn’t inspire us. We’re all in on unique offerings and instruments that we haven’t seen before, but ultimately they have to inspire something in our creative process. Maybe it’s a mood, texture or feeling, but as long as it sparks something in our songwriting journey, it’s justified. Your mileage may vary, and we don’t want to turn you off to cigar boxes in general, if you think that’s the type of sound that’ll fit with your song. By all means, check out the new offerings from Lace. Ultimately, though, perhaps this one just wasn’t for us. And that’s OK. It might be just the thing you’re looking for – and we want to hear what you come up with.
Unique, great sounding pickup.
Odd, might not appeal to every guitarist, poor setup.