Another Tribute Post-Merle Haggard

We’ve lost another music legend in Merle Haggard. You know, I have found myself playing his album with Willie Nelson (on vinyl because I’m a purist), Django and Jimmie quite a bit lately. Talking with my wife today, she mentioned that it must be hard for Willie Nelson..he’s buried so many friends. But I seem to think a little more positively about it I guess. How cool is it that Willie has gotten to stick around and play with so many  amazing artists in his lifetime? Cash, Haggard, Jennings, Kristofferson; the list goes ON AND ON…can’t imagine who he hasn’t played with!

One of our pals is currently touring in Europe and he is probably the biggest fan of Merle Haggard that I know of. Trey Hensley, guitar phenom and artist that will become a legend himself one day, was really shaken by the passing. I read his post about it..and how proud he was to have received an endorsement for his album from Merle. Makes me think that Merle must’ve been a class act.

And so I’m blogging another tribute, because I feel compelled to do so. As we lose touch with even more of our musical heritage and “old ways” to new technologies, I hope and pray that good old fashioned guitar playing never gets upgraded by the stroke of a keyboard on some “mixers” laptop. Looking ahead, with pickers like Trey Hensley still around, I feel pretty comforted knowing that probably isn’t the case.

As I listen to the record on our turntable, I hear the sound of two men (Haggard and Nelson) paying tribute to each other, to the friends they’ve lost, but more importantly to the music they love. Again, I feel better about the future..knowing somewhere there’s a kid who’s picked up a guitar somewhere and  tuned into the radio where he heard the name of Merle Haggard last week. Maybe..just maybe, there’s another Okie out there ready to continue the old ways of country with great lyrics, real pickin and a sincere love of music without any technology involved.

RIP Merle…Cash…Jennings… No better tribute I can think of than leaving you with words straight from Merle himself-

Whiskey goes down
Like cold, spring water
Over rocks, and the close of the day
When you’re flying like Eagles
Down American highways
You lose a lot of friends along the way
But we just keep on moving
And rolling along
Can’t look back
We might turn to stone
But we would’ve taking much better care of ourselves
If we would have known we was gonna live this long

I still get calls for guitars, and I keep thinking that one day I’ll build again. But I’m not sure about how much time I can devote to it. I do miss it though, more than I realize sometimes.

Life keeps us busy, so it’s hard to always make the time. All this music is inspiring though..almost makes one want to get into the shop and build. Maybe I’ll make me an all black model..a playable tribute to one of my favorites?284910_10150277493204131_4219680_n


Published in: on April 9, 2016 at 9:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Perfect Imperfections

So lately my wife has been on a recycling kick..not just bottles, plastic, etc.  But she’s continually checking out sites that inspire the use of old household items being refurbished to make new items.  So tonight as I look at some of the most recent Slackjack creations recently built, I’ve realized something.  Why do people feel the need to create their version of “perfection”?

Valley Earthfest is coming up this weekend.  It is a zero waste festival held annually in Berryville, Virginia and Slackjack Guitars will be exhibiting..and we’re stoked.  I plan on taking at least a half dozen creations, all of them different…no two alike.  Which brings me to my post.  I left imperfections like worm holes, grain variances, mineral streaks, and this one guitar in particular has an area that should’ve rotted a long time ago, but kiln drying the wood stopped the decaying process.  

So what do I have left? A few really cool characteristics that add a realness to the guitars that I’m building.  It’s kind of like the tye-dye process, you can use the same two colors on many shirts and never have a uniform pattern.  So why would I spend my time cutting or sanding out something so natural and organic?  I wouldn’t.  Because that makes the Slackjack Guitar authentic, real, and imperfect…in a perfect kinda way.

Long Time..No Post

Been a couple of weeks since I checked in..what can I say, business is picking up!  If you are a fan on facebook then you have witnessed “The Godfather”.  My next guitar is going to be Long Tall Sally.  She’s a four stringer…made out of wood..some electronics…ooops I’ve said to much…don’t want to give away all my secrets!  😉  All kidding aside, she’s going to be a beauty! 



Still have a Carhopper, and a couple of custom boxes..then it’s time to focus on building an inventory.  I’ll be appearing at my first festival in April.  Valley Earthfest is family-friendly, ZERO waste event that will be held in Berryville, Virginia on April 18, 2010.  Because of Slackjack’s nature, the cigar box guitar is afterall a reclaimed product fashioned into something new and improved.  Well, at least newish?  

I’m excited about the showing, and appreciate the opportunity that the event producers are giving me to showcase my wares.  I’m looking forward to meeting others who are interested in sustainable living.   There is definitely a movement for green living in the USA and beyond, it’s very exciting to be a part of that movement!

To find out more about Valley Earthfest and become a fan, click on the facebook icon! 

Long Tall Sally’s photos will be coming soon!  By the way..have you checked out Slackjack Guitar’s website lately?  We’ve added a gallery of some of our previous builds…

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 4:50 AM  Leave a Comment  

Live & In Person…

Slackjack Guitars will be attending the Continental Restaurant’s Jam Session featuring the BluesGate Jam on Friday, March 12th.   We received a shoutout on both their social media pages…which Ol’ Slackjack certainly appreciates!  Only problem is, I can’t decide which of my new CBG builds I want to take up to Winchester, VA.   Maybe I should do an online poll?

Also wanted to tell you all about the great place that the Blues Jam is going to take just happens to be a place the Woodall’s have frequented for years.  Great atmosphere, wonderful service and food, and of course there is Natalie who pours the best drinks I’ve ever had!  I don’t get to get up there near as much as I used taking my CBG’s will kinda feel like a homecoming.

I’m feeling a little anxious, and nervous at the same time..but in a good way.  I’m anxious to get my guitars in the hands of a few bonified blues musicians..think I’ll be getting some good video and pics for the blog, website, and social media pages.  And nervous about transporting a few of them up the road..don’t know if I’ll let the wife drive on this trip up! 

The BluesGate is a co-op of musicians who are about 150 strong.  Way to keep bringing good music to the people folks!  To get more information on the Continental Afterhours or BluesGate Jam…click the icons below and you’ll be redirected to their website.


Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 8:58 PM  Leave a Comment  


Wanted to shout out to all the Johnny Cash Fans out there.  On February 26th, 1932 The Man In Black was born.  He would be 78 today.  I still have memories of my Dad and my Uncle Bill sitting around the table in the mornings smoking filterless cigarettes (real cowboys back then) and listening to Johnny Cash records.  Ira Hayes, John Henry, Jacob Brown and other songs about real people and their struggles in day to day life.  My Dad, almost 70 himself, still has that booming voice.  He could always sing that low baritone, just like Cash.  I still enjoy visiting with my Martin and playing Give My Love to Rose while he sings along.

Cash’s music is perhaps the most important music written/performed in the 20th century.  He brought rock ‘n roll, old time, gospel and country to a common place and blended them all effortlessly.  His words and songs are, in my opinion, the most honest and authentic ever recorded.  The music John recorded late in his life is perhaps his most powerful.  He knew who he was and he didn’t try to be someone other than John R. Cash.  When people ask me who I would like to meet and have a conversation with, past or present, I can’t think of anyone else.  Check out the song/video in this post.  Unchained is a title track from one of his last albums, produced by Rick Rubin.  These recordings during the Rick Rubin sessions really give you insight as to the depth of the man.  His strong spiritual beliefs, devotion to the love of his life and ability to reflect back on who he was, is, and hopes to be are all easy to admire.  On a side note, Johnny Cash was a close friend of Carl Perkins, one of the original kings of the Sun Recording sessions.  Carl Perkins wrote many of the most popular songs in Rock n Roll history, many of them performed and popularized by artists such as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan.  What was one of Carl Perkins’ first instruments??  A homemade cigar box guitar!!


Happy Birthday JC

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 4:39 AM  Leave a Comment  

Think You Don’t Have a Musical Bone? Think Again!

I hear a lot of people say things like, “I have always wanted to play a musical instrument but I just don’t have a musical bone in my body.”  I am going to prove you wrong.  The attached video will show you an instrument that looks and sounds as unique as all of my other cigar box instruments.  I call it a SlackStick.  It is fretted like a dulcimer but held and played like a guitar.  The cool thing about these is that they are impossible to play badly.  There are no wrong notes!!!  Unlike a traditional guitar, it is tuned to an open key.  There are only the notes that pertain to that key so no matter where you fret the instrument it sounds like it belongs.  You can create your own music effortlessly without have to think about where the notes are…it’s as easy as it gets. 

Watch the video for more info and hear how it sounds!!  This particular version is a short scale, meant to sound like a blend between a banjo, dulcimer and mandolin.  Hope you enjoy.

Custom Orders Accepted and Preferred!!

It seems that lately I have been getting a lot of people asking for custom cigar box guitars.  This is a welcomed surprise!!!  I guess I am surprised because no two cigar box instruments that I build sound the same or look the same.  That, in a sense, makes them all custom right??  Well, not exactly. 

When someone contacts me, I assume that they desire an instrument that speaks to them, something that makes it theirs.  This can simply mean, they pick the box or the wood used to make the neck, or the type of electronics.  It may also mean that they want input on the overall design, layout, etc.  Or, they may want a conversation piece, such as a guitar themed after their favorite band, beverage or sports team. 

No matter what you want, I take all requests and try my best to fill all orders.  I already know from experience that a cigar box guitar will get you attention anywhere you go.  Why not make it something really special??

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 4:16 AM  Leave a Comment  

Happy Reading!

Slackjack Guitars, and owner Travis Woodall, is very happy (and grateful) to announce that we have been featured on the very popular local blog Appylove.   The blog is written by Amanda Rigell, who is a songwriter/performer herself in the Johnson City band Count This Penny.  Appylove is an online work of  journalistic art that offers insight into our area from our music to our people.  It is a great resource for locals who have forgotten where to find the beauty in the New Mountain South, and offers a glimpse of what makes our region special to the outsiders who are curious.

After being contacted by Amanda about an interview, Travis and his wife Brandi sat down with Amanda and her husband, Allen, to talk about Slackjack Guitars.  The interview covered all of the bases.  From the inspiration of the company to the vision that the Woodalls have for the Cigar Box Guitars AND their community.  It is a beautifully written piece about this crazy and exciting journey that we are embarking on!

So a BIG thank you to Appylove!   And best wishes in the future for Amanda, Allen, and Count This Penny!  To access the blog just click on the Blogger icon below.  Happy reading!

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 9:21 PM  Leave a Comment  

Slackjack Guitar’s Website Is Live!

The Slackjack Guitars website includes a lot of information, from the history of cigar box guitars, Slackjack’s emerging business, recent media, and of course our online store!  That’s right we finish a build, it will now be up for sale on our website…unless it sells before we get it on there! could happen! 

Please visit our new online store and give us feedback!  We are always open to constructive criticism..helps us keep getting better!  Thanks to all of those folks who keep supporting what we’re doing!  We’re going to keep on producing guitars we’re proud of, extending our network to include builders of other handmade instruments in the Tri-State area and beyond, and working to offer the best product and service we can to the masses! 

So visit our new website and online store at  .  Make sure you sign our guest book so we’ll know you stopped by for a visit!  If you have questions, please email or give us a call at (423) 753-0004.

Slackjack Guitars On The Small Screen

So today we arose early, packed up an amp and a Slackjack CBG and headed to WJHL TV 11 in neighboring Johnson City, TN.  For the first time since becoming a “business”, Slackjack Guitars was officially introduced to the public.  And what a great experience it was!

I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous.  But thanks to Morgan King, one of the show’s hosts, I felt right at ease.  After my soundcheck…I was ready to roll.  I was quite pleased with my performance.  And then it was on to the interview segment..once again with Mr. Morgan King.

After chatting about the history of the CBG, how Slackjack Guitars came to be, and what I’m doing right now…Morgan asked if I could build a bass CBG!  And not only did he mention it during our session, he mentioned it a few times throughout the hour long show.  So guess what?  I’m going to build Morgan King a bass Cigar Box Guitar.  And how about these apples..he worked in a cigar shop back in the 60’s and just happens to have some vintage boxes.  He’s going to pick out a few and we’ll see which one will work best for the build.

What is going on with this new venture is nothing short of mind boggling.  But I am grateful and driven!!  I’ve never been so passionate about doing something like building the Cigar Box Guitar. 

ANYWAY..just wanted to post the video from this morning.  Hope you enjoy, and hope this is the first of MANY times you’ll see Slackjack Guitars in the media!  Just click on the Daytime Tri-Cities icon below, and it’ll take you right to the video.

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 2:38 AM  Comments (1)  
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