Growing up in Appalachia I've seen my fair share of backwoods instruments but none are more impressive to me than the Cigar Box Guitars. Being left handed is what attracted me to playing the dulcimer, it was inexpensive and easy to flip the strings around.
I was never much for playing traditional dulcimer songs, and I felt "held back" by the diatonic fretting, that is why it is fretted like a normal guitar.
So for the sake of not being long-winded in the "Title" this build is really a Left-Handed Six-String Electric Chromatic Dulcimer. But you can choose to do however many strings, fretting, or spacing you would like to. I encourage variation!

This Instructable may seem a little tough but as long as you can be patient and accurate, it's pretty easy.
This was a really fun project, and my first Instructable! ENJOY!!!

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

*Now you can make your instrument as basic or as fancy as you see fit, but I tried to pull out all the stops on this to show you the potential there is in constructing this dulcimer.


"Stock" lumber from local Lowes or Home Depot (I used Lowes because it was closer)
Neck - 1/2"x2"x4' Oak
Headstock - 1/4"x4"x2' Oak
Fretboard - 1/4"x2"x4' Poplar
Fretdots - 1/4"x2' Oak Dowel Rod (optional)

Note: Save all the extra cut offs from the build you'll use them variously throughout.
           Make sure your lumber is as straight as possible and is free of knots. Remember accuracy is key.


Cigar Box from local smoke shop (mine is 7.25"x10"x2")
Tuning Machines
Nut made from material of choice
Strings: 2x-22w, 2x-14, 2x-12 gauge
Wood Glue
Super Glue
1/8" metal rod ( local hobby store)


Pickup with electronics EQ-7545R
Wood Stain
Wood Sealer
Box Hardware (local hobby store)
Thick craft paint

Note: Some great places to get cheap instrument hardware are:

http://www.gadgettown.com/Musical-Instruments/   ( FREE SHIPPING!!! )


I can't wait to make this! Could you tell me what song you're playing in the demo?
Wow! It's beautiful! <br>Is that the sound without electricity?
Thanks! Yeah that video was shot without the use of a amplifier.
Very nice job! I like your approach, and the result sounds beautiful. Gotta love the double courses!
Thank You! I'm glad you enjoyed it! It really is one of my favorite dulcimers to play
It sounds much better than I thought - great build and fantastic instructions too!

About This Instructable


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Bio: Being a Artist and Printmaker I have to be creative everyday! It is my compulsion. What I love about Instructables is the free exchange of ... More »
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