SimplemanGuitars


William Tompkins of SimplemanGuitars creates handmade one-of-a-kind cigar box guitars and amps.  These guitars are more than just unique conversation pieces; they are a representation of a time and era of America's past.

Tell me about yourself, Will.
I am a 30 something who lives in Southeast Florida with my wife and kid. My hobbies include guitar playing and guitar building.

I build one guitar at a time focusing on quality rather than quantity. Each guitar is designed slightly different from the next with attention to detail and accuracy. I really enjoy the sound of old blues music and try to build guitars that can reproduce that historic and iconic sound of the Mississippi delta guitar. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up listening to these sounds as well as bluegrass music on Sunday mornings.

You can spend thousands of dollars on a store bought guitar which will play beautiful but how many other people will also own that same guitar. These are custom built with cigar boxes from local shops handpicked by me searching through countless boxes finding that special one for the next build. I really enjoy building these simple yet sophisticated guitars they are a reflection of myself as craftsman and musician.

How did you originally get into your craft?
I remember the first time a saw a cigar box guitar. I was at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth, Florida; which is a bar/club that attracts alot of blues artists, jug bands, Grateful Dead followers and anything that sounds cool. The stage was occupied by a one man band named Ben Prestage. He played guitar with a bass drum, snare, and high hat setup. He switched guitars around and came to his special cigar box guitar. This was not the traditional 3 or 4 string variety but a custom 6 string on which he played any kind of jam on. He also had a lowebow guitar which has one bass string and three guitar strings which is played with a slide.

This was how I got into my craft because when I got home that night all I could think about was how cool that cigar box guitar and lowebow sounded. I have been playing guitar for about fifteen years so I have a collection of guitars already, but nothing like what I had just witnessed. So I set about on the internet searching for guitar plans and how-to websites on how to build one of these monsters. My very first build was from one of those boxes from Marshalls that looks like a book but is really a box. It was a simple through body neck with no frets and no traditional scale length, just a primive slide guitar. It was a four string guitar and it came out fairly well and had really good tone. My second build was made from a old wood wine bottle box and was a six stringer. This one I made to scale length and had frets and nice gold tuners, came out prettty nice, primitive but nice. From then on each of builds have matured and gotten a litttle more refined, I am still improving in my skill with each build.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Spend time with my family, and then build guitars!

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
So far the biggest challenge is to keep enough inventory in the store. I am a one man production line, and I am detailed so I tend not to rush my builds. Keeping a nice selection in the store seems to be a challenge; as I post a new guitar another one seems to sell.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many different things, from a pilot, army dude, athlete.

What item in your collection would you like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
The arturo fuente magnum would be a cool gift!

What other artists out there do you love?
I appreciate anyone who puts there heart and soul into their art or craft. I really do believe it is an extension on ones self.

What does your future hold?
I hope to further my business with more people recognizing the name SimplemanGuitars and relating it to quality rather than quantity. I really don't wont to be a big business as that would take away from objective which is to build a quality handcrafted one of kind instrument.