Building A Cigar Box Guitar

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From the Wikipedia Article:

The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone whose resonator is a discarded cigar box. Because the instrument is homemade, there is no standard for dimensions, string types or construction techniques. Many early cigar box guitars consisted only of one or two strings that were attached to the ends of a broomstick that was inserted into the cigar box. Other cigar box guitars were more complex, with the builder attempting to simulate a real stringed instrument, such as a guitar, banjo, or fiddle.

Currently, there is a resurgence in this humble instrument and musicians are creating many new designs. Some are adding additional strings and necks while others are incorporating active electronics that make them playable through guitar amplifiers. These musicians gather daily in the Cigar Box Guitar Forum [1] to discuss new construction techniques, playing styles and more. There are also several cigar box guitar festivals being organized throughout the United States.

If a cigar box is not available, other substitutes have been suggested. Notably, an unused pizza box.

Project Outline[edit]

This project is designed to help those in need or want to build a homemade guitar out of a couple of spare parts found inexpensively. For the average price of about $15 (not including necessary tools), you can craft and complete a working instrument, electrified or acoustic, to add a unique flair to performance or casual play.

Materials Needed[edit]

  • Wooden Cigar Box (the larger, the better)
  • 3 foot long 1x2 (Poplar wood is most affordable for its durability)
  • Elmer's Wood Glue, or other company's wood glues, or Gorilla glue
  • Tuning Machines Elderly Music (wide selection)
  • 1/2 pint sealant/stain
  • Sponge Paint Brush (1/2" to 1" works well)
  • Sandpaper (220 grain)
  • Drill w/ multiple sized bits
  • Hacksaw/Coping Saw
  • 1/2" Woodfile

Getting Started[edit]

There are as many ways to construct a Cigar Box Guitar (or CBG) as there are people on this earth, what I am outlining for you is my own method of construction I have come up with through trial and error. To keep things simple, I am going to stick with the most basic techniques.

Make sure you have a couple of hours to dedicated to the initial steps of construction, as these require the most care. Give yourself plenty of working space, and depending on where you are working, be prepared to clean up a lot of sawdust and wood scrap. Make sure to envision what you want your CBG to look like before you jump in and start making cuts in your wood. This can be a slow learning process, so just be patient and sooner than you may think, you'll have your very own hand-built CBG to show off and play.

See also[edit]