I wanted a stringed instrument to take with me into the backcountry, one that could survive a full day of hiking in the sun or rain with minimal fuss, but that would provide music and fun around the campfire at the end of the day. AND, it had to be light weight for long multi-day trips.
This variant of the classic diddley bow does the trick - all the pieces fit in an Altoids tin, and the stick itself is a great walking stick. If you play guitar and know your way around a pentatonic blues scale, you'll be good to go for hours at camp. If you're a guitar newb, probably fun to mess around on too. It's a one stringed wonder you play like a slide guitar, and this design allows you to assemble it in a few minutes and play it with your dinner spoon.
Step 1: What you need to get busy
Most of these materials you probably have lying around at home (like mismatched old guitar strings) - putting it together from scratch probably will cost you $15.
Materials to build it
An acoustic guitar string (I used the thickest string, the low E, from a set of Martin Extra Light acoustic strings)
Two hose clamps with a diameter large enough to fit around your walking stick
A walking stick (I bought a replacement rake handle at the hardware store for $7 - I like these - they're strong and light weight)
Something to act as the bridge for your guitar (I used an Altoids tin, but an old tuna can or some such works just as well)
A spare nut from a nut/bolt set*
A rubber band
A couple scraps of wood or sturdy sticks from camp
*Note that the part of the guitar that the string rests on is also called "the nut" - I've tried to be clear in this post when I'm talking about "the nut of the guitar" vs this piece of hardware used to fasten the string to the hose clamp.
Tools to build it
Screw driver for the hose clamps (I used the flat edge of my spoon, a pocket knife screwdriver would work too)
Pliers for tying off the end of your guitar string to a nut
Tools to play it
A guitar slide (This can be anything, from a store bought slide, an old bottle neck, a length of pipe, or what have you)
Something to hit the string with (I use my dinner spoon - any nice piece of metal will do)