The Chickenbone Difference

What makes our guitars.

All our guitars from our cheapest fretless short-scale cigar box guitars to our most expensive builds are all built using the same methods, high standard workmanship and quality components. Our instruments are built and designed to last and withstand constant use. Have faith in it to respond to your skill and magnify your best efforts, give to it the best you have and the best will come back to you. 

Our guitars are rigorously quality checked and tuned before they are shipped out so they are ready to be picked up and played the moment they arrive. We ensure every guitar is in perfect condition before it leaves our workshop. Every instrument is stamped on the headstock with a serial number, which is logged in our data base, a business card is located stuck inside the main body of the guitar, and we provide a guarantee card. If it doesn't have all of these markers it is not a real ChickenboneJohn Guitar. We guarantee against any defects in material or workmanship for a period of three years. 


Take it from the Top

Let's get one thing clear there's more to playing the cigar box guitar than slide, a lot more, and that means action (the height of the strings above the fretboard) and intonation needs to be right. Whether fretted or fretless, I believe you need an action that will allow you to play slide and fretted notes with ease. Putting in a machine screw that give 1/4" high action just wont work, so whether it's a traditional bone nut or a simple machine screw, I set-up all the nuts on my guitars to give the optimum action for slide and finger playing and accurate intonation. There's no wrestling the strings down onto the fretboard here, or being stuck with only being able to play slide, these are properly playable instruments right form the start. 

and Take it to the Bridge

Another aspect of ensuring proper play-ability is the bridge, and we offer various types. Our hardwood floating bridges the simple fretwire and fretwire saddle bridge features a neat little string spacing feature borrowed from parlour guitars of the 1930s. A raised ridge behind the saddle with accurately cut slots to ensure the strings don't slide or skip across the saddle, these bridges provide sustain and crystal clear clarity. The wire saddle also ensures full earth (ground) connection to all strings for safety. 

The floating machine screw bridge accurately houses the screw in a slot on the top of the saddle to ensure firm spacing and great sustain. 

Stainless steel fully adjustable bridges feature a strat-style saddle on a polished baseplate. These are adjustable for intonation and individual string height. 


All our guitars contain top quality components, after building 1000s of guitars we know that you can't compromise on electrical components. They are the heart of the sound and can be subject to some pretty rough use. You won't find budget jack sockets or cheep no-name parts inside a ChickenboneJohn guitar. 


We offer a range of pickups from simple piezo and single coil pickups to mini-humbuckers, lace and hand wound. The very basic piezo pickup featured on some of our fretless guitars is the simple 'disc' type, cheep but prone to feedback, can be trebly and can pick up a lot of the handing noise, and it can be a real liability when played onstage at loud volume. However they are prefect for at home use and busking.

The next step up is a standard single coil magnetic pickup which works well with 3 & 4 strings. We can offer these solo, with either tone or volume or with both. They offer a more reliable and predicable sound, with better control over tone and volume then the simple piezo pickup.

The mimhumbucker is a step up in terms off output, these produce a fat warm sound. With these being 5 conductor wired they can be fitted with a coil tap switch for single coil and other variations. For playing live and REALLY loud many players prefer the magnetic pickups. 

We also build more specialised guitars with the Fishman acoustic pickups or with the Lace Alumitone Matchbook pickup. 


We offer different types and finishes, chrome, embossed, nickel, distressed bronze, black, clear etc. We source these from a range of suppliers to bring the best combination of price and quality including Kluson, Grover and Van Gent. Quality machineheads prevent our guitars from slipping out of tune.