Former military engineer creates magic in the world of the cigar box guitar

(Steve Rooks of Stittsville demonstrates just one of his many unique and handmade HOBO cigar box guitars available at The Little Red Spade located on Stittsville Main Street. Photos: Stittsville Central)

Stittsville resident, Steve Rooks, was in the British Military Regiment of the Royal Engineers. Retired in 2016, he decided to cross the pond and found himself and his family settling down in Stittsville and says, “I love it here”.

(The display of HOBO cigar box guitars created by Steve Rooks of Stittsville and available for purchase at The Little Red Spade.)

What does one do in retirement when only in your mid-40s? Steve was exploring the possibilities. Steve loves the Blues and while watching a music video discovered his new passion. In the video someone was playing a cigar box that had been converted into a 3-string guitar. His imagination was sparked and this began his worldwide collection of cigar boxes in every shape and size to be used in the creation of his HOBO guitars. He has also joined the world of 3-D printing to add to his hobbies.

(Steve’s companion plays his own miniature HOBO guitar. Steve used his 3-D printer to create the eyes)

After several iterations, his best sounding 3-string was created. His hobby took off from there and HOBO Custom Cigar Box Guitars was started. Steve finds that, “working for hours on his guitars is both calming and positive” – he has seen a lot of action during his years in the British Military.

(An originally unique HOBO 3-string cigar box guitar)

His wife, Katia, is fully supportive of his hobby. Steve told us, “I met Katia in Bosnia. She was with the Royal Engineers of the Canadian Army. We were teamed up so I could teach her how to drive a UK Land Rover and after a week of training, he knew that his life and hers would take a turn”. They have been married for 22 years and have three daughters.

We asked Steve why he chose the name HOBO. “Every travelling railway hobo seemed to have a knack to entertain others with music around their camp fire, especially in the south. I came up with the name as it just seemed to fit my style of guitars”. His price is also hobo priced ranging from $45 to $140.

(A local musician, Russ, tries out one of the HOBO guitars with a slide.)

Steve has a large collection of both 3-string and 2-string guitars – available in both acoustic and electric models. He has even created some miniature cigar box guitars as Christmas tree ornaments. You can find Steve’s creations displayed and for sale at The Little Red Spade on Stittsville Main Street.

(Mini HOBO cigar box guitar Christmas tree decorations created by Steve Rooks.)

Still looking for that quirky Christmas gift, or for any occasion actually, we suggest you drop into The Little Red Spade and consider a unique 3 or 2-string cigar box guitar!


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