Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Playing Folsom Prison Blues By Johnny Cash on a Cigar Box Guitar With Nigel McTrustry

Since receiving my DB Custom Cigar Box Guitar (aka Gloria) I have been practicing every day for weeks now. Unlike Percy, I have ZERO experience playing any kind of musical instrument. Thus, I wanted to start with something easy and fun. Cue Johnny Cash and his hit Folsom Prison Blues. Thankfully, Nigel McTrustry of CBG Australia, has made a straight forward instructional video on how to play Folsom Prison Blues on a three string CBG. However, there are some things to keep in mind. I have tried to break it down further for y'all. Included below is a copy of Cash's original song, Nigel's instructional video, and the lyrics to the song. However, fret not, I have not added a video of myself playing the song on Gloria! You can thank me later. ;-)


Folsom Prison Blues By Johnny Cash

The beat is much quicker than the version that I will be playing on Gloria. Lack of expertise and experience probably account for this. However, for anyone not familiar with the song itself, it helps to put the song in order by way of how it should be sung whilst playing. (see lyrics below) The great thing about Cash's songs is that he often "speaks" throughout them and Folsom Prison Blues is no exception. I can't sing worth a damn, so "speaking through this song" suits me much more than trying to belt out a ballad. Did I mention how damn hard it is to actually sing and play at the same time? Honestly, I don't know how Percy does it.


Admittedly, Nigel assumes you are somewhat experienced already (imho) to be able to piece together some of the song. That being said, however, his video is excellent in that it gets you started on all of the important aspects of playing this song on a CBG, including the strumming the solo slide including which frets to use.

Folsom Prison Blues By Johnny Cash

[Tune Your CBG To FCF -
Percy Suggested ProGuitarTuner.com and it Works Great!] 

I hear the train a comin'. 
It's rolling round the bend.
And I ain't seen the sunshine since - I don't know when.
I'm stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin' on.
But that train keeps a rollin' - on down to San Antone.

[Small Pause]

When I was just a baby my mama told me. Son, 
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns. 
But I shot a man in Reno 
just to watch him die.
When I hear that whistle blowing, 
I hang my head and cry.

[Solo = High F String (closest to knee) only - 
Frets = 3 - 4 - 7 - 9 - 7 - 10 - 7 (And Again) 3 - 4 - 7 - 9 - 7 - 10 
Complete said solo in full twice!]

I bet there's rich folks eating in a fancy dining car.
They're probably drinkin' coffee 
and smoking big cigars. 
Well I know I had it coming, 
I know I can't be free.

[Small Pause]

But those people keep a movin' 
And that's what tortures me...

[Solo = High F String (closest to knee) only - 
Frets = 3 - 4 - 7 - 9 - 7 - 10 - 7 (And Again) 3 - 4 - 7 - 9 - 7 - 10 
Complete said solo in full twice!]

Well if they freed me from this prison, 
If that railroad train was mine 
I bet I'd move it on a little farther down the line 
Far from Folsom prison, that's where I want to stay 

[Small Pause]

And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.

Gloria (& Family) Needs a Vacation from Me Already!
I have taken the liberty to break the song up the way Cash sings it. As well, based on Nigel's instructions, I have also taken the liberty to add where the solos go and in what order it should be played with the slide and how many times. I have also added where there are general pauses in order to keep the flow of the song. Finally, I have added where the slide parts should be and from what fret to what fret. However, keep in mind ladies and gentleman that you are free to do what you want with the song. My inexperience means I torment myself with every mis-step and poorly executed slide note. That being said, after breaking my high F string (closest to knee) twice and several hours of torturing my wife and kids I humbly submit to the CBG Gods that be my very first song on a CBG.

I'd take a video of myself playing this tune but honestly, I am just too darn shy! Maybe one day someone will catch me strumming Gloria by a fire pit on a warm summer's night. Until then, you'll have to settle for the sweet tunes of those talented CBG players of which there seems to be many!

Special Thanks Goes Out To Nigel McTrustry of 

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