Introduction: Altoids Tin Guitar

Picture of Altoids Tin Guitar

I got this idea from the original Altoids Guitar posted by bumpus. When I set out to make my own Altoids Tin Guitar, I decided to make an Instructable out of it.


Step 1: Tools and Parts Needed

Picture of Tools and Parts Needed

Parts Needed:

(1) Empty Altoids Tin
(3) Rulers, paint stir sticks, or I used banister rail spacers
(3) Guitar Strings (I used the top 3)
(1) Old BIC pen
(1) Some plastic (credit cards work well)
(3) 3/16 x 2 Eye bolts
(3) washers
(6) bolts
(1) piezo
(1) 1/8 mono jack

Tools Needed:

Drill with various drill bits
Gorilla Glue
Hot Glue Gun
Needlenose plyers
Small plyers

Step 2: Make Room for the Neck

Picture of Make Room for the Neck

Make sure to outline the areas of the Altoids tin before you begin cutting. You need to make one cut at the base of the tin for the first ruler to slide into (see pic, sorry it's fuzzy).

WARNING! Make sure you are cutting on the correct side. You want the nice Altoids logo to be displayed correctly when playing it. I am right handed, so I made the cut on the right side of the tin.

I used a drill to put holes in the box. Then I used a small knife on my multitool to cut the box out.

Step 3: Cut Holes for the Strings and the 1/8 Jack

Picture of Cut Holes for the Strings and the 1/8 Jack

Now you need to make holes for the strings. Again, mark the holes before you break out the drill. I used a 3/32 drill bit for this.

You also need to make a hole for the 1/8 jack. I used a slightly larger drill bit and then bored out the hole with a pair of needlenose plyers.

Step 4: Cut Up the BIC Pen

Picture of Cut Up the BIC Pen

Now we are going to cut up a BIC pen. This will be used for the strings to rest on (instead of the side of the Altoids tin). You need to cut it down to about 1 and 1/2 inches in length. Then cut that in half and trim it down to fit on the end of the tin.

I also put 3 notches in the pen for the strings to rest in.

After that, get out the hot glue gun. Apply a nice layer of glue on the BIC pen piece and put it on edge of the lid, above the strings (see pic)

Step 5: Attach the 1/8 Jack and Insert the Neck

Picture of Attach the 1/8 Jack and Insert the Neck

You need to attach the 1/8 jack before you insert the neck. You want to make sure everything fits correctly. I mounted the 1/8 jack and put an adapter in it to be 100% sure everything would fit.

NOTE: If the ground plug touches the case, this will not work.

After you know everything will fit, put some Gorilla Glue on the bottom of the case and slide in the ruler (only 1/2 way or as far as you can go without hitting the jack).

After that glue was set, I covered the whole thing with glue from the hot glue gun. Just to seal everything up and make sure the ruler will not come apart.

Step 6: Working on the Neck

Picture of Working on the Neck

Cut the plastic (an old Skype card worked for me) down to the width of the rulers. Bend the plastic. We are going to insert this between the top and middle rulers to guide the strings. You will want to make the bend a little larger than the height of your ruler.

Cut the other 2 rulers you have down about 1 inch smaller than what is sticking out of the Altoids tin. Get out the hot glue gun. Glue down the first ruler. Then glue the plastic down with the tab sticking up. Then glue down the final ruler on both the plastic and the middle ruler.

Step 7: Finish the Neck

Picture of Finish the Neck

Now we need to add holes for the eye bolts. Measure and mark before drilling. I used a 3/16 drill bit. You want to make a V with the bolts. Put two close to the neck and one on the end. Then, insert the bolts with the nut and washer on the top side. One nut will go on the bottom (you can add washers if you want more support).

Step 8: Wiring Up the Piezo

Picture of Wiring Up the Piezo

Break the piezo from it's case. Be careful not to damage the piezo in the process.

Once it is freed, wire it to the 1/8 jack. Follow the diagram that came with your 1/8 jack to find out which is positive and which is negative.

Before I glued it to the case, I drilled a very small (1/16) hole in the lid. Center the piezo on the hole in the lid and hot glue it down.

Step 9: Almost Done!

Picture of Almost Done!

Now we just have to string it up. Insert strings into the holes on the end. Once they have all been inserted, close the lid. Loop each string over the BIC pen and then thread them into the eye bolts. I looped the string 3 or 4 times in the eye, then allowed the slack to twist around the body of the bolt.

To tune, just turn the eye bolts to add tension to the string. Then tighten the nuts to keep the bolt in place.

Then plug in and play!


404_Error (author)2010-08-27

does anyone know if this would work with nylon strings - does the piezo act as a pickup, or a microphone?

mentalman (author)404_Error2011-06-28

The peizo will pick up any virbation That's the beauty of it. SO nylon should just make a different sound You may love it.

Wsxfdd (author)mentalman2017-01-19

shut up

Wsxfdd (author)2017-01-19

you rock

Wsxfdd (author)2017-01-16

awesome dude

Handmade Penguin (author)2013-07-09

Hey, I have a question. I picked up a 1/8" male stereo to a 1/4" female stereo. Couldn't find it in mono on the 1/4" side, and want to be able to receive the amp plug.

Is it the same? Don't know how to figure out positive and negative on it.

I found the answer. it's a jack, not an adaptor. Went back and got the right part. It's in the drawers at Radio Shack.

Here's my video...

HardCoreHacker (author)2012-10-14

Alright, so i did this all tonight for a physics project tomorrow lol. I just want to say you can fit a 1/4" monojack in the altoids can if you: A) put the hole in the right spot. B) are willing to have a slight bulge at the bottom. I used a 1/4" just because I didnt have an "adapter". If your Radioshack doesnt think they have piezos or monojacks, look the items up online and tell them the catalog number. When I went in person they had no idea what a piezo was and swore they didn't have any monojacks or piezos, but when I gave them the catalog number they got it for me.

Ninjakaib (author)2012-09-01

This is so cool.

jschnoor (author)2011-07-30

could I make it a bass? the strings would be hard on the whole thing, but would it still work?

Yess it would but you would need to put 2 pieces of felt over the piezo to keep the staticition fibre vibrations to ruin the amp. i did it and i made a violyn electric guitar DRUMS lol that was hard and steel drums

Old comment, I know, but if you want a bass consider using nylon weed-eater string. It'll be lower tension, thus less wear and tear, and the piezo will still pick it up because it senses mechanical vibration rather than magnetic field fluctuation like a normal pickup.

beehard44 (author)2012-03-21

If i would make one, i'd make it 4 holes and use bass strings
And maybe reinforce things a bit

Aron313 (author)2012-03-20

Im going to make one a learn how to play heartbreak station on it hehe! :P

Alex Mercer (author)2012-03-20

Thanks for this instructable. I like it and I will give five stars.

ididabarrelroll (author)2011-07-29

I lol'd

kryptofacist (author)2010-12-16

Does it have to be a piezo, or will a small speaker also work? Do you use a piezo because the guitar is very high in pitch?

mentalman (author)kryptofacist2011-06-28

The piezo is what what picks up the vibration in the box. it acts likt the pick-ups on a electric guitar But way cheaper. 8 buck o's at radio shack.
i built a two string I had to buy the piezo and the strings Everything else was in the house already.the fun is making it too. Then get a piece of pipe for your finger and play it like a slide and you'll love it. Serarch Diddley bow. and find out they are 1000's of years old.
Just DO it and enjoy making your own music.

llcoolj4886 (author)2011-06-19

hay can u make me one i will pay u ??????

mentalman (author)llcoolj48862011-06-28

You can look up Diddley Bow on yoo toob and learn how simple they are to make.
i made one with all hand tools that everybody has around the house . and making it your way is half the fun. radio shack has the piezo unit for about $8 bucks.
you will need some sort of amplifyed to plug it into. but ya probably have that in your home music system.

mentalman (author)2011-06-28

HEY that's cool You can Look up Diddley Bow on YooToob and see how they are made too TRY using a pipe with yours so you can slide it You will love the sounds and tune you can get I have been playing my 2 string stick for 6 mo.and still am no good but have a real blast.

junkevin (author)2009-11-22

so how does the piezo work exactly? do the strings attach to it or what?

bryandhispup (author)junkevin2011-06-16

it acts like a microphone. a piezo is a sort of speaker for alarm sounds, when wired this way it will work ( just as a speaker will when wired this way) like a mic.

Jodex (author)junkevin2009-12-18

You could attach it to the tin or to the neck. It pretty much doesn't matter. Simply with trying is the easiest way to find out where's the best.

Caboose98 (author)2011-03-25

is wondering, is it ok if i somehow hooked up a small speaker, would that work too?

bryandhispup (author)Caboose982011-06-16

yes it will act as a mic, the sound will be different from the piezo but you may like the tin-y sound it creates. kind of a steel guitar meets cigar box banjo sound...

bryandhispup (author)2011-06-16

you may consider reenforcing the holes, as, eventually, they will pull thru from tuning.

bryandhispup (author)2011-06-16

can you get a better pic of this step?

heyitscorty7 (author)2010-10-16

So can you put hot glue on the piezo?

read the instructable and youll see, the last 2 lines

ninjaoffigs (author)2009-07-06

So can I find one at radio shack?

fatchumba667 (author)ninjaoffigs2011-04-15

yeah most likely, also window alarms have them. i live in australia and i went to dick smith and picked one up for $15 with 2 piezos in it

fatchumba667 (author)2011-04-15

this is briliant! i got 2 piezos from a window alarm and made one of these, but with proper tuning pegs not hooks, and its fantastic! well done! and thank you!

heyitscorty7 (author)2010-09-04

Is it ok to put hot glue on the piezo?

psphaxzor (author)heyitscorty72010-11-27

have you read the instructable?

megajohn (author)2010-11-15

Can you(or if you can, how) put an electric guitar humbucker instead of the piezo?

Ddv20 (author)2009-07-29

Can you put in more than 3 strings?

404_Error (author)Ddv202010-09-01

Im working on one right now that has 4, so yes.

SasquatchKid (author)2010-07-23

Made an aqustic one

Mr.Coolpants (author)2009-10-04

what if we dont have a hot glue gun??

McGyver2 (author)Mr.Coolpants2010-02-07

Use Super Glue or find a way to Duck Tape it

Charlie1337 (author)McGyver22010-06-18

And its Duct tape

Whales (author)Mr.Coolpants2009-11-14

 Go buy one??

supamunki (author)2009-05-08

well how do u get the strings to be attatched on the inside

Whales (author)supamunki2009-11-14

 On one end of a guitar string they have a little"nub"(i'm not sure if they have a name..) that you use to fix it near the sound hole of a guitar you just open the altoids case and feed trough the end with no nub. the nub should catch on the little holes and not come through.

KingJaymz (author)Whales2010-04-05

I suppose you could also tie a knot on the end of a string if you have a chopped down one.  It'd probably take a two pair of pliers to get it tied, but you knot it good enough and it would substitute for the "nub."


s0meth1ng0re0ther (author)2010-03-09

if the altiods side isnt the right way will it not work?????

grimfig (author)2010-01-28

I'm not sure if this has been discussed or not yet, but wing nuts are a much better option that just the normal nuts.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am very geeky. I love to do hardware stuff like electronics and robotics projects, as well as software (coding and such). I am a ... More »
More by jwilson27:Cheap and easy iPhone video camera mountUpgrading the Xbox 360 hard drive CHEAP!Duct Tape Pocket Notepad
Add instructable to: