Groups with a thrown-together-at-the-last-minute flavor played a lot of 000 Martins that appeared to be in the 1-series or DM-series. I saw one Martin dread that could have been a DM too. Asian imports were popular with no one brand name predominating, or if one brand did, who cares. Many Taylors were in evidence; I doubt any were bought specifically for jug band use; I mean, why? I saw a lone Martin D-28 -- what a contrast jugdom is to the bluegrass world. Resonator guitars were popular and projected well through mics despite competition from raucous washboards. I counted four biscuit-bridge-style resos (Nationals and imports), a Gibson/Dobro spider-bridge model with round neck (which sounded great despite the player's apparent deep inebriation), a couple of tricones, one a National and the other a recent Regal import. One guy played a dobro slide-style; I couldn't hear him. Also in attendance were two inaudible and wildly inappropriate classical guitars, testimony to the ad hoc nature of the jug band genre. (That may be the only use of jug band and genre in the same sentence... whoops, there's another one!) Several punchy 6-string banjos were in evidence. Are they actually guitars? You make the call.
So after seven or eight minutes of consideration, I've settled on what makes a great jug band guitar:
* It should be cheap. Despite their valuable volume (see below) anything from Martin's standard series (unless VERY battered) on up costs you street cred. These are jug bands, people! If you're stuck with a D-45, consider sanding off the logo and covering the top with stickers. Even your case should be cheap. If you have a case.
* If it isn't cheap it should at least LOOK cheap. I spotted one factory-distressed National guitar at the above event. It probably ran the player $2500, but darn it, it fit. Likewise, one of those big Harmony/Silvertone/Airline flattops from the 60s gets you style points even if you paid a collector price for it.
* It should have a high coolness factor. Or anti-coolness factor. Or look like you really don't care one way or another. Your roommate's old Yamaha is fine, if it's loud (see below). I mean, whatever.
* It should be loud. If your axe is wimpy, even the lowly kazoo and harmonica will cut through the mess better than you will.
* No, really REALLY loud. And if it isn't loud then you need to play loud. Eschew subtlety. Everything you learned in your first three guitar lessons, and no more, is just the ticket. Nobody's selling a how-to DVD called "Jug Band Guitar -- Styles of the Great Players." Jug band is why God gave us the G and E chords.
* Unless you really don't care one way or another (see "don't care one way or another," above), the guitar should be durable. If your band ever gets a second gig, your guitar will get tossed into a van with washtubs, washboards and god knows what all. And all of that will come through the collision you will probably have, considering what the driver has been smoking, better than your guitar will.
Riley Stokes, founding member (retired)
The Funky Butt Smut Band (retired)