Introduction: Another Altoids Guitar

Picture of Another Altoids Guitar

I loved the Altoids guitars made by bumpus and jwilson27. So I decided to make one to give to my brother for his birthday, with a few additions... ROCK ON!!!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The materials needed for this project are as follows:
- Altoids tin (eat up!)
- Wooden slats (I used red oak ones from Lowes)
- Guitar tuning pegs (3) (bought a set of six at the local music store)
- Nylon spacers (found in the specialty hardware section)
- Piezo element
- 1/4" audio jack
- Guerilla glue, hot glue, super glue... (get the picture?)
- Electric guitar strings
- Guitar strap buttons (2)
- At least 12oz. of ice cold liquid creativity *optional, but recommended

The tools I used were as follows:
- Dremel tool with router bit and small cutting wheel bit
- Jigsaw
- Bar clamps
- Drill
- Screwdriver

Step 2: Basic Form

Picture of Basic Form

First, take the empty Altoids tin and cut a slot in the side you want the neck to be on. (keep in mind the orientation of the logo on the tin) This slot should be just big enough for one wooden slat to fit into. I used the router bit on my dremel tool, which seemed to work pretty well.

Once this is done, cut a length of wood the length of the neck and headstock, plus the length it will extend into the tin (be sure to leave enough room inside the tin to accomodate the audio jack)

Moisten the end of the slat, and use guerilla glue to secure the wood to the inside of the tin. Clamp them together, and let the glue fully cure.

Cut another piece of wood to the length spanning from the tin to the end of the previous piece. Finally, cut one more piece of wood to span from the tin to the end of the neck (leave enough room for the tuning pegs in the headstock) When measuring these, be sure to leave enough space away from the tin so it will open and close.

Moisten and sandwich the two additional pieces of wood on top of the first with guerilla glue in between. Once again, clamp them all together with bar clamps and let the glue fully cure.

You now have the basic guitar form. Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, and play a little air guitar (anything by Journey should do just fine)

Step 3: Adding the Details

Picture of Adding the Details

Measure and drill holes for the tuning pegs, and secure them onto the headstock.

Drill a hole in the tin for the audio jack, and mount it. I had to cut a bit of the lid away for it to fit.

Cut the nylon spacers in half longways, the best way you can... (this was a bear, I used a clamp and my jigsaw) I needed to combine two lengths of spacers to span the width of the guitar.

Superglue the nylon to the end of the neck, and to the base of the tin (for the bridge)

Drill holes in the tin for the strings (next to the audio jack), and one in the lid for the piezo sensor.

Finally, mount the strap buttons on the guitar. I mounted one to the back of the neck towards the headstock, and one to the back of the tin (this one required a michine screw and nut instead of the traditional wood screw)

Step 4: Wired and Strung Out...

Picture of Wired and Strung Out...

At last, it's time to see what this thing can do!

Wire the piezo sensor to the audio jack. Be sure to test it before securing it permanently...

Once the piezo is wired up, use some hot glue to secure it to the lid of the tin (just over the hole you drilled).

Finally, run the strings through the holes in the tin and run them to their respective tuning pegs.

Step 5: Tune It Up, Plug It In, and ROCK OUT!!!

Picture of Tune It Up, Plug It In, and ROCK OUT!!!

That's it! Rock out with your curiously small guitar!

There were some extra features I wanted to do, but didn't have time to get around to. Obviously, some frets would make for an easier playing guitar. Another thing that might help would be the bracket found on the headstocks of most guitars that hold the strings flat against the nut. I found that the strings would at times try to slide up the tuning peg to the point where they were no longer touching the nut. I plan on attempting to add these to my own Altoids guitar when I get around to making it. If successful, I'll be sure to post an update.

Thanks for checking this out, and whatever you do, be sure to have some fun with it!


alcurb (author)2014-06-04

Video or sound file?

HADJISTYLLIS (author)2009-02-26

Its the piezzo a buzzer or a magnetic switch?

YoChuck (author)HADJISTYLLIS2009-02-26

You can get the piezzo element out of a buzzer. I lucked out and found this one in a battery-powered window alarm at the dolar store (piezzo, micro switch, and three 1.5v button cells for a buck!!!) Just take the outer casing apart (very gingerly), and the flat piezzo element will be inside. Try to salvage the wires that are already soldered onto the piezzo, as it's much easier to just solder extensions to those rather than try to solder new wires onto the piezzo itself. Also pay close attention to the polarity. Best of luck to you!

JtMS (author)YoChuck2011-08-22

if you are feeling fancy you can actually make your own piezo out of baking soda and cream of tartar powder...

rownhunt (author)YoChuck2010-04-29

I followed your advice and got a window alarm from the
dollar store and got one nice lookin' piezo!! 

evilmadcow (author)2011-08-02

I looked at a video on this and decided that i want it to sound like an actual guitar,
so how do you remove the effect that makes it sound like you are hitting tuning forks?

rownhunt (author)2010-04-28

Im working on one right now ive got the paint scraped of the top
and then i polished it with a buffing wheel and got a nice piece of birch which i stained to a chocholate brown colour..
But when i get my piezo does it have to be a 1/4" jack
can it be a smaller one for some computer speakers
or ipod headphones????

YoChuck (author)rownhunt2010-05-03

Yeah, I'm sure it'd be fine to wire whatever size jack you want to it.  Best of luck, and I'm happy you found one of those dollar store piezzos!

Muchkoolz (author)2010-03-12

In this picture here, you have two wires, a green one and a white one. I'm guessing the green one goes to the audio jack, but where does the green wire go and connect with?...

petler477 (author)Muchkoolz2010-04-05

both wires go to the audio jack

Glockenator (author)2010-01-01

dark chocolate covered cinnamon?  i never knew such a strange flavour existed

reptar9 (author)2009-05-25

i wired the connections but i keep getting feedback, is it because i didnt sauder them together? or do i need a footpedal to just take away the feedback?

YoChuck (author)reptar92009-05-26

Are you getting feedback or a humming noise? The piezo sensor acts as a SUPER sensitive mic, so you should start at zero and adjust the volume from there if it's feedback. Humming is a bit more tricky, and I'm not sure of the best way to get rid of that. Perhaps soldering the connections would remedy your problem. I'd say just check your connections and make sure there's not a short anywhere. Best of luck!

1up (author)YoChuck2009-11-22

Humming is sometimes caused by a "ground loop". This is where there is more than one connection to ground. This acts an antenna to pick up interference.
Maybe something is shorting on the case and causing this?

Zem (author)2009-10-22

Which part of the piezo element is which?

lilbrewdog (author)2009-07-30

um...what did you spend making this guitar?

wangzo (author)2009-07-19

Nice design, probably the clearest instructable I've seen yet. Gonna make it soon

dreath77 (author)2009-06-20

so are ;they like those cigarbox guitars but made with an altoids can instead, its seems like it is and that is awesome

dreath77 (author)dreath772009-06-20

although i do have one questionss, wheres the frets, i play guitar and i know some guitars have frets. so is this that kind of guitar that doesnt

repareren1 (author)dreath772009-07-03

it's not a real guitar

zrune18 (author)2009-06-11


ring wraith159 (author)2009-05-30

>>-----(===) this is my guitar..... all most as small as yours

Funkmasterlogan (author)2009-04-21

did you use th first three strings of the guitar? or every other one?

YoChuck (author)Funkmasterlogan2009-04-22

I think I used the first three, but you can use any combination of them you want to. It's crazy sounding to begin with, so have at it! Best of luck!

Funkmasterlogan (author)2009-04-03

how long is the main piece of wood? i bought some at Lowe's but i dont know how long its supposed to be, they didnt have precut i had to get it long

YoChuck (author)Funkmasterlogan2009-04-07

I can't remember how long it was exactly. I think 12-16 inches is probably a good length...

Funkmasterlogan (author)2009-03-30

can i get ay ptzo from radio shack? or does it has to be a certain type.

YoChuck (author)Funkmasterlogan2009-03-30

Yes. Radio Shack sells piezo buzzers for electronic alarms, that work perfectly. Just pick one of those up and carefully dismantle it to get the piezo element out. You can even leave the wire leads soldered onto it (makes life MUCH easier!). Best of luck!

slowsam (author)2008-10-22

what would i use to make the frets???

YoChuck (author)slowsam2008-10-23

I considered several items to use, but unfortunately couldn't do any because of time. Some things to try to glue on the board would be toothpicks, straightened paperclips, or small finishing nails. I'm not sure if you could find them, but if you're looking to go the authentic route, you could try and find some real frets, actually cut slots, and install them. Best of luck with whatever you try!

lokisox (author)YoChuck2009-03-23

try using the copper wire core (solid) from antenna cable from a cb radio

chi chi chippy (author)2009-03-18
YoChuck (author)chi chi chippy2009-03-19

That would work just fine if you want to use an in-line instead of the panel mount jack. As long as you wire everything up to the piezo correctly, you're good to go! Also, that link is to a 1/8" jack. That will work fine, but keep in mind that most guitar/music equipment is set up for 1/4". Best of luck, and let me know if I can be of any more help!

Jr Hacking kid (author)2008-12-17

i went to radio shack and i got one of the cheapest 1/4 mono jack they have and i got it says that it is a phone jack can it still work? also on the peizo buzzer can i use this one or the other one?

this one
this one

YoChuck (author)Jr Hacking kid2008-12-18

I imagine the jack should work just fine, as long as it's a 1/4 inch mono... Both of the piezos should do ok. It looks like the first one is just rated for a bit higher voltage and current than the second one. Best of luck to you, and let us know how it turns out!

Jr Hacking kid (author)YoChuck2008-12-18

mkay! =)

emdarcher (author)2008-12-10

this looks like it will be fun to make. I'll try to make some frets so I can know what I'm playing though.

YoChuck (author)emdarcher2008-12-10

Yes, it's definitely 'slide necessary' without frets. I think there are a good number of fret calculators you can find online to properly space them out. Best of luck, and thanks for the comment!

gr1ffs (author)2008-10-27

The one I'm making right now is a full sized home made 24 fret neck. I'm sloting the neck and installing jumbo size nails with the tips and heads cut of for frets. the one I made before used finishing nails, but they give an uncomfortable feel and lead to hand injuries. also be sure to use a fret calculator.

thejuggler (author)2008-09-21

I am going to make one with frets, and a black licourice altoids tin

YoChuck (author)thejuggler2008-09-23

Sounds cool! Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

Luxordo5 (author)2008-08-28

Would it be a good idea to add two piezos? And how would you do so? Do you just hook up the piezos and and jack into one circuit? I play guitar but I don't know much about hooking up pickups to a guitar. I think it would be really cool to have an altoids guitar, altoids amp, and altoids stompbox 0_0.

YoChuck (author)Luxordo52008-08-28

Not too sure... the piezo acts as more of a microphone than a pickup, so it might not be any different. You could wire up two of them into a DPDT switch, and then run that to the jack. Placing the piezos in different places might make for different tones (?) The 'all altoids' rig sounds exciting. Best of luck!

Luxordo5 (author)YoChuck2008-08-28

Would the piezo work the same on a regular ABS plastic project box? Cuz I keep thinking that the altoids metal case gives more vibration to the piezo. Not only I'm doing an all altoids rig, I'm gonna make a "medium" size guitar with a large project box and yard stick(s). I would add LEDs and even a KILLSWITCH. And I'm going to use the online Fret Calculator to calculate the measurements and add frets. It would be funny playing useless looking box on a stick that actually rocks like a real guitar in my club. Anyways, I think I'll buy some different sized piezo buzzers to experiment with different tones. Thanks For Your Help!

YoChuck (author)Luxordo52008-09-02

No problem! Best of luck with the project, and I can't wait to see it!

blacksabbath7322 (author)2008-08-15

Can I use a humbucker pick-up from my guitar instead of the piezo or no?

YoChuck (author)blacksabbath73222008-08-16

That should work just fine... just wire the humbucker up to the jack. You'll lose a bit of the 'Altoids' aesthetic having to cut the lid to accomodate the pickup, but that might have a pretty cool sound!

blacksabbath7322 (author)2008-08-13

Do I have to add the piezo or can I leave it out?

YoChuck (author)blacksabbath73222008-08-14

You can definitely leave the piezo and jack out of the equation and play it acoustically... it's got plenty of sound and is a lot of fun!

struckbyanarrow (author)2008-04-04

this is so awsome! (im at school right now!)

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