Learn How to Make Your Own Build a Cigar Box Guitar and Rock Out with Style

Have you ever wanted to play a unique and handmade musical instrument? Look no further than the cigar box guitar! This DIY project combines creativity, resourcefulness, and a love for music to create a one-of-a-kind instrument. Whether you’re an experienced musician or a beginner, building your own cigar box guitar is a rewarding and enjoyable process.

Building a cigar box guitar may seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, from selecting the right materials to assembling and fine-tuning your instrument. With a little patience and some basic tools, you’ll soon be strumming and plucking away on your own handmade guitar.

One of the great things about building a cigar box guitar is that you can customize it to suit your own taste and playing style. From the type of cigar box you choose to the number of strings, the possibilities are endless. Whether you prefer a rustic, vintage look or a modern, sleek design, you have the freedom to make your guitar truly your own.

So why wait? Let’s get started on this exciting journey of building your very own cigar box guitar. Get ready to unleash your creativity, hone your woodworking skills, and create a musical masterpiece that will bring joy for years to come. Follow this step-by-step guide and before you know it, you’ll be strumming to your own unique melody on your handmade cigar box guitar.


Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Cigar Box Guitar

Building your own cigar box guitar can be a fun and rewarding project. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting out, this step-by-step guide will help you create your very own unique instrument.

Materials Needed

  • A cigar box – the size and shape will affect the sound of your guitar
  • A piece of wood for the neck – choose a strong and straight piece
  • Guitar strings – choose the type and gauge that suits your playing style
  • Tuning pegs – these will allow you to tune the guitar
  • Bridge and nut – these help anchor and position the strings
  • Tools – including a saw, drill, screwdrivers, and sandpaper

Building Steps

  1. Prepare the cigar box by removing any unwanted labels or stickers and sanding it down to remove any rough edges.
  2. Measure and cut the neck piece to the desired length, ensuring it is straight and flat.
  3. Attach the neck to the cigar box using screws or strong adhesive, making sure it is securely fastened.
  4. Create holes on the cigar box for the tuning pegs, ensuring they are evenly spaced and aligned.
  5. Install the tuning pegs into the holes and tighten them to hold the strings in place.
  6. Position the bridge and nut on the neck, ensuring proper string alignment and tension.
  7. Attach the guitar strings to the tuning pegs, passing them through the bridge and nut, and tighten them to the desired pitch.
  8. Adjust the bridge and nut as needed to achieve the desired string height and action.
  9. Test the sound and playability of your cigar box guitar and make any final adjustments.

Remember, building a cigar box guitar is a creative endeavor, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and techniques to make it your own. Have fun and enjoy the process of building and playing your very own handmade instrument!

Gather Your Materials

Before you begin building your own cigar box guitar, it’s important to gather all of the necessary materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

1. Cigar Box: Choose a sturdy and resonant cigar box that will serve as the body of your guitar.

2. Neck: You can either purchase a pre-made guitar neck or make one yourself using a piece of hardwood.

3. Fretboard: The fretboard is where you’ll press the strings to play different notes. You can buy a pre-made fretboard or make one using a piece of hardwood.

4. Strings: Choose the type of strings that you prefer for your guitar. You can use either electric guitar strings or acoustic guitar strings.

5. Tuning Pegs: These will be used to tune the strings of your cigar box guitar. Make sure to choose pegs that are compatible with the size of your neck.

6. Bridge: The bridge is where the strings are anchored on the body of your guitar. You can buy a pre-made bridge or create one using a small wooden block.

7. Nut: The nut is a small piece that guides the strings at the top of the neck. You can buy a pre-made nut or make one using a piece of bone or another hard material.

8. Tools: In addition to the above materials, you’ll need a variety of tools such as a saw, drill, screwdrivers, sandpaper, and files to complete the construction process.

Once you have all of these materials ready, you’ll be well-equipped to start building your very own cigar box guitar. Take your time to gather high-quality materials in order to ensure the best possible sound and durability for your instrument.

Prepare the Cigar Box

Before you start building your cigar box guitar, you’ll need to prepare the cigar box itself. This involves a few key steps to ensure the box is ready to be transformed into a musical instrument.

1. Choose the right box: Look for a cigar box that is sturdy and in good condition. The size and shape of the box can vary depending on your personal preference. Some popular options include small wooden boxes or larger rectangular ones.

2. Clean the box: It’s important to clean the cigar box thoroughly, as it may have collected dust, dirt, or tobacco residue over time. Use a damp cloth or a mild cleaning solution to wipe the box inside and out. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

3. Remove any hardware: You’ll likely find hinges or other hardware attached to the cigar box. Use a screwdriver or pliers to carefully remove these items. You want to have a clean surface to work with when attaching the neck and strings.

4. Sand the box: To ensure a smooth finish, lightly sand the surface of the cigar box. This will help remove any rough edges or imperfections. Be careful not to sand too much, as you don’t want to damage the box or remove any decorative logos or labels.

5. Reinforce the corners: Cigar boxes may have weaker corners that can be prone to splitting or cracking. Strengthen the corners by applying wood glue or epoxy and clamping them together until dry. This will help ensure the durability of your cigar box guitar.

6. Apply a finish: If desired, you can apply a finish or coat of varnish to the cigar box. This will give it a polished look and protect it from moisture and wear. Use a brush to evenly apply the finish, and let it dry completely before proceeding with the construction process.

By following these steps, you’ll have a well-prepared cigar box that is ready to be transformed into a unique and playable guitar.

Build the Neck

Building the neck for your cigar box guitar is a crucial step in the construction process. The neck is what holds the strings and allows you to play different notes and chords.

Here are the steps to build the neck:

1. Choose the Wood: Select a piece of hardwood for the neck, such as maple or mahogany. Make sure the wood is straight and free from knots or other defects.

2. Cut the Neck Blank: Measure and mark the desired length for the neck on the chosen wood. Use a saw to cut the neck blank to size.

3. Shape the Neck: Use a rasp, file, or sandpaper to shape the neck to your desired profile. You can make it round, V-shaped, or any other shape that feels comfortable for you.

4. Attach the Fretboard: Cut a piece of hardwood for the fretboard and attach it to the top of the neck using wood glue. Make sure it is aligned properly and secure it with clamps until the glue dries.

5. Install Frets: If you want to add frets to your cigar box guitar, measure and mark the positions on the fretboard. Use a fret saw to cut slots for the frets, and then insert the frets into the slots.

6. Install the Tuners: Drill holes in the headstock of the neck to install the tuners. Make sure they are aligned properly and secure them with screws.

7. Attach the Neck to the Cigar Box: Use screws or bolts to attach the neck to the cigar box. Make sure it is securely attached and properly aligned with the bridge and the soundhole.

8. Adjust the Neck Angle: Depending on the height of the bridge, you may need to adjust the neck angle to achieve proper string height. This can be done by shimming the neck or adjusting the height of the bridge.

By following these steps, you can build a sturdy and playable neck for your cigar box guitar. Remember to take your time and make precise measurements to ensure the best results.

Attach the Neck to the Box

Once you have prepared your cigar box, it’s time to attach the neck. The neck is an essential component of the cigar box guitar, as it will determine the pitch and playability of the instrument.

Step 1: Measure and Mark

Begin by measuring and marking the placement of the neck on the cigar box. The exact position may vary depending on the size and design of your box, but a common placement is near the center of the box.

Using a ruler or measuring tape, place the neck on the box and align it with the edge. Make sure it is straight and centered. Once you are satisfied with the position, use a pencil or marker to make small marks on the box where the neck will be attached.

Step 2: Drill Holes and Attach Step 8 the Neck

Use a drill with an appropriate drill bit to create holes in the box where you made the marks. The holes should be slightly smaller than the screws or bolts you will be using to attach the neck.

Once the holes are drilled, place the neck back onto the box and line up the holes on the neck with the holes on the box. Insert the screws or bolts through the holes and tighten them securely using a screwdriver or wrench.

Make sure the neck is firmly attached to the box, but be careful not to overtighten the screws or bolts, as this can damage the wood.

Step 3: Test and Adjust

After attaching the neck, take a moment to test the stability and playability of the cigar box guitar. notch Check that the neck is straight and properly aligned with the body of the instrument.

Strum the strings or pluck them individually to see if they produce clear and resonant sounds. If the strings are too high off the fretboard, you may need to adjust the position of the bridge or nut.

Make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the neck is securely attached and the strings are properly positioned. Once you are satisfied with the result, you can move on to the next steps of finishing and decorating your cigar box guitar.

Remember, the attachment of the neck is a critical step in the construction of a cigar box guitar. Take your time and double-check the alignment and stability before proceeding with the next steps. With a well-attached neck, your cigar box guitar will be ready to make beautiful music.

Install the Fretboard

Once you have completed the neck of your cigar box guitar, the next step is to install the fretboard. The fretboard is where you will place your fingers to form different chords and notes.

To install the fretboard, follow these steps:

1. Select the Fretboard

Choose a piece of hardwood that is suitable for a fretboard. Popular options include maple, rosewood, and ebony. Measure and cut the fretboard to the desired length for your cigar box guitar.

2. Mark the Fret Positions

Use a ruler and pencil to mark where each fret will be on the fretboard. The spacing between frets may vary depending on personal preference, but a common spacing is about 1.5 inches between each fret.

Note: Make sure the spacing is accurate and consistent to ensure proper intonation on your cigar box guitar.

3. Cut the Fret Slots

Using a fret saw or Japanese pull saw, carefully cut the fret slots into the fretboard. The depth of the slots should be about halfway through the thickness of the fretboard. Take your time and make precise cuts.

Note: It may be helpful to use a fretboard radius template to guide your cuts and ensure a consistent curvature along the fretboard.

4. Glue the Fretboard

Apply a small amount of woodworking glue to the top of the neck where the fretboard will be placed. Carefully position the fretboard on top of the neck and press it down firmly to ensure a strong bond.

Note: Wipe off any excess glue that squeezes out from the edges.

5. Let it Dry

Allow the glue to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically takes 24-48 hours.

Note: It’s important to let the glue dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step to ensure a solid connection between the neck and fretboard.

Once the fretboard is installed and the glue is completely dry, you can proceed to the next step of setting up your cigar box guitar.

Remember to take your time and be precise when installing the fretboard to ensure a quality instrument that will bring you joy for years to come.

Add the Strings

Once the neck and body of your cigar box guitar are assembled and everything is properly adjusted and secured, it’s time to add the strings. The type and gauge of strings you choose will greatly affect the sound and playability of your instrument, so it’s important to do some research and choose the ones that suit your preferences.

Start by threading one end of the string through the hole in the tailpiece, located at the end of the body. Pull the string through until you have a few inches of excess length. Then, wrap the excess string around the tailpiece and secure it by tying a knot or using a small piece of electrical tape.

Next, bring the other end of the string up and over the bridge, which is the small piece of wood or metal located near the end of the body. The string should rest on top of the bridge, making contact with the neck of the guitar.

Once the string is positioned correctly, stretch it tight and thread it through the corresponding tuning peg located on the headstock of the guitar. Make sure the string is wrapped around the tuning peg in the correct direction, following the natural path of the peg. Then, grab the excess string and wrap it around itself, creating a small loop or coil that locks the string in place.

Repeat this process for each string, making sure to keep the strings properly spaced and aligned on the neck of the guitar. Use a tuner to ensure each string is tuned to the correct pitch.

Adding the strings is one of the final steps in building your own cigar box guitar. Once they are in place, you’ll be ready to start playing and experimenting with different sounds and techniques. Enjoy the process and have fun creating music with your handmade instrument!

Tune and Test Your Guitar

After you have finished building your cigar box guitar, it is important to tune it properly in order to achieve the desired sound. Tuning your guitar involves adjusting the tension of the strings so that they produce the correct pitch when played.

Tuning Your Guitar

There are several different methods you can use to tune your cigar box guitar:

  • Tuning with a Tuner: Using a guitar tuner is the most accurate method of tuning. Attach the tuner to the headstock of your guitar and pluck each string, adjusting the tension until the tuner indicates that you have reached the correct pitch.
  • Tuning by Ear: If a tuner is not available, you can tune your guitar by ear. Start with one string that is already in tune (such as the A string on a standard guitar) and tune the other strings relative to that string. You can use online resources or reference recordings to assist you with this method.
  • Tuning with Harmonics: Another method is to tune your guitar using harmonics. Press your finger lightly on the string at the 12th fret and pluck the string. The resulting sound should match the harmonic produced by lightly touching the string at the 12th fret without pressing it down.

Whichever method you choose, make sure all of the strings are in tune with each other. This will ensure proper intonation and a better overall sound.

Testing Your Guitar

Once your guitar is tuned, it’s time to test it out and make any necessary adjustments. Play each string individually and check for any buzzing or rattling sounds. If you hear any undesirable noises, it may indicate that the string is too close to the frets or the bridge needs to be adjusted.

You should also test the playability of your guitar by playing chords and scales. Make note of any areas where the strings feel too tight or too loose, as this could indicate a problem with the neck or the string height.

Finally, experiment with the different sounds you can create by playing your cigar box guitar. Slide the strings, strum with your fingers or a pick, and explore different techniques to discover the unique sound that your homemade instrument can produce.

Remember, building a cigar box guitar is just the beginning. Tuning and testing your guitar are crucial steps to ensure that it plays and sounds as good as possible. Enjoy the process and have fun exploring the endless musical possibilities that your handmade instrument can offer!

Customize Your Cigar Box Guitar

Once you have built your own cigar box guitar, you can have fun customizing it to make it uniquely yours. Here are some ideas and tips to help you personalize your instrument:

1. Decorate your cigar box

One of the easiest ways to customize your cigar box guitar is by decorating the box itself. You can paint it, use decoupage to add images or patterns, or even cover it with fabric or leather. The possibilities are endless, so let your creativity run wild!

2. Add your personal touch

Another way to make your cigar box guitar reflect your personality is by adding your own personal touches. You can add your initials or a meaningful symbol to the headstock, or even carve a design into the neck or body of the guitar. These small details can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your instrument.

Remember to seal any decorations or carvings with a clear varnish or lacquer to protect them from wear and tear.

3. Experiment with different hardware

While traditional cigar box guitars use simple hardware like eye bolts or machine screws for string bridges and tailpieces, you can get creative and try out different types of hardware to give your guitar a unique look. Consider using vintage knobs for volume and tone controls, or even repurposed objects like door hinges or bottle caps for added flair.

4. Customize the sound

Aside from the visual customizations, you can also experiment with different elements to customize the sound of your cigar box guitar. You can try swapping out different types of strings or experimenting with different types of pickups. This can lead to finding the perfect sound that suits your playing style and preferences.

Remember to experiment and have fun with your customizations – after all, the joy of building your own cigar box guitar is being able to make it truly one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting out, a customized cigar box guitar can be a unique and enjoyable addition to your collection.

Q&A: How to make a cigar box guitar

Where is the sound hole typically located on a cigar box guitar (CBG)?

The sound hole on a cigar box guitar (CBG) is usually located on the top of the box, allowing sound to resonate and project outward.

What tool might you use to create the sound hole in the top of the cigar box?

A coping saw is commonly used to cut the sound hole in the top of the cigar box, allowing for precise shaping and sizing.

What is the purpose of the piezo pickup in a cigar box guitar?

The piezo pickup is an electronic device installed in a CBG to capture the vibrations of the strings and convert them into electrical signals, amplifying the sound when connected to an amplifier.

Where is the neck of the cigar box guitar typically positioned?

The neck of the cigar box guitar is usually attached to the back of the box, extending outward toward the player’s body.

How many strings are typically found on a standard cigar box guitar?

A standard cigar box guitar typically features three strings, although some variations may have more or fewer strings depending on the builder’s preference.

What is the purpose of the notch at the end of the cigar box guitar’s neck?

The notch at the end of the CBG’s neck serves as a another guitar guide for string placement and tension adjustment, ensuring proper alignment and tuning.

What part of the cigar box guitar is often repurposed from the lid of the box?

The lid of the cigar box is commonly repurposed as the top of the CBG, providing a resonant surface for making the guitar sound projection.

Where might you find the sound hole in relation to the neck and strings on a cigar box guitar?

The sound hole on a cigar box guitar is typically positioned near the strings and neck, allowing sound to resonate and project effectively.

What role does the back of the neck play in the construction of a cigar box guitar?

The back of the neck provides structural support and stability for the strings, ensuring proper tension and alignment during play.

What part of the player’s body might rest against the side of the neck while playing a cigar box guitar?

While playing a cigar box guitar, the player’s hand or thumb may rest against the side of the neck for support and control while fretting or strumming.

  1. Where can enthusiasts find resources and a community dedicated to cigar box guitar building and playing?

    • Enthusiasts can find resources and join a community of fellow builders and players on websites like Cigar Box Nation, where they can share tips, techniques, and inspiration.
  2. What are the basic components needed to build a simple cigar box guitar?

    • A simple cigar box guitar typically requires a cigar box, a wooden neck, guitar tuning pegs, strings, and hardware for assembly.
  3. How is the neck typically attached to the cigar box in the construction process?

    • The neck of the cigar box guitar is usually attached to the inside of the box, with the end of the neck positioned at the bottom of the box and secured in place using glue or screws.
  4. What tools are commonly used to drill holes for attaching hardware or components to the cigar box?

    • Tools such as a drill and drill bits are commonly used to drill holes in the cigar box for attaching hardware, such as guitar tuning pegs or a tailpiece.
  5. Where is the nut of the cigar box guitar typically located, and how is it installed?

    • The nut of the cigar box guitar is usually located at the end of the neck, where it meets the cigar box lid, and is installed by cutting a slot into the neck to accommodate it.
  6. What is the history behind the tradition of making guitars from cigar boxes?

    • The tradition of making guitars from cigar boxes dates back to the mid-19th century when resourceful musicians repurposed empty cigar boxes and other materials to create musical instruments due to a lack of affordable options.
  7. How is the thickness of the cigar box taken into account during the construction process?

    • The thickness of the cigar box influences the overall tone and resonance of the finished guitar, with thicker boxes often producing a deeper, richer sound.
  8. What is the purpose of making marks along the neck during the assembly process?

    • Making marks along the neck helps ensure proper alignment and spacing of hardware, frets, and other components, facilitating accurate assembly and setup.
  9. Where is the tail of the guitar typically located, and how is it attached?

    • The tail of the guitar is typically located at the bottom of the cigar box and is attached using screws or other hardware to anchor the strings and provide tension.
  10. What is the significance of learning to play a cigar box guitar?

    • Learning to play a cigar box guitar not only offers a fun and fulfilling musical experience but also connects enthusiasts to a rich tradition of handmade instruments and grassroots music-making.