My name is John Maw. I originally trained as a musician (viola and harpsichord), attending the Royal Academy of Music in London. After leaving the Academy I trained as a maker of bows for violin, viola and cello and worked as a maker for eleven years. After a break of about twenty years I am now making instruments of a completely different kind.
Cigar box guitars have their origin in early blues music. Often played with a slide (frequently a bottle neck) the sound will transport you to another time and another place.
My instruments are all hand made and use recycled materials wherever possible. In particular, I try to only use old wood in the making of these guitars. As well as the environmental advantages, the wood is thoroughly dry and stable. This is much better than new wood which has been kiln dried. Every instrument is different, but they all share a distinctive sound.
The instruments that I sell
The instruments that I sell are made for stock. When I have some available the details and photos will be posted on this site on the For Sale page. The standard instrument is a fretted three string with either double piezo pickup embedded in the bridge, piezo rod embedded in the bridge or magnetic pickup. Four sting instruments may also be available from time to time.
I should mention a bit about the boxes that are used as the foundation of these instruments. These boxes were all made to hold cigars and have been used for that purpose. In that sense they are not new. They have already had a previous life and it is almost inevitable that there will be some signs of this still visible. Feel free to ask about the detailed condition of the box used for any guitar that interests you.
The wood that I use is also mostly recycled. Some of it has not been used but is just old wood from stock. I don't buy and use new wood for any of the structure and try hard not to use new wood at all.
The fittings, such as strings, tuners and pickups are all new.
Visiting - trying the instruments
As the choice of a guitar is a very personal matter I encourage anyone thinking of buying an instrument to come and try it out. I will make sure you have ample time to get to know the guitar before purchasing. Visits must be by appointment please.
Why the name "Roadkill"?
There are two reasons. The first is simply that I joined an online community in which many people used colourful names and this one arose almost as a joke. After a little while it just stuck and people within that community know me as much by that name as by my own. The other reason is that since the mid nineties I have been working as a photographer and I use my own name to market that aspect of my work. Keeping the two activities a little separate should avoid any confusion (and as the saying goes "I am at one with my duality").