Instructables
Picture of Beginner Cigar Box Guitar
This is more of an uninstructable than an instructable, but hopefully my mistakes will benefit other beginner makers.

I’m part of a small group of beginner makers in Atlanta, GA called AHWIG. For our most recent meeting, we decided to make cigar box guitars using Discontinuuity’s excellent instructable. However, since none of us knew what a coping saw was, much less how to operate a power tool, we were befuddled by the instructions. This instructable that assumes the reader knows NOTHING AT ALL about making stuff.

Many thanks to Discontinuuity for inspiring a new crop of makers.

Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools
Parts You'll Need:
  1. Cigar Box
  2. 3' length of 1"x2" poplar board
  3. Guitar tuning pegs (You only need 3, but they come in a set of 6.)
  4. Guitar strings (Get a pack from any music store. Some stores even sell individual ones. You only need 3 strings.)
  5. Bridge - part A: Something to anchor the strings at the top - anything you can drill 3 holes through. I used a small hinge which already had 3 holes, but a piece of scrap metal would also work. One of us used a tiny antique key with 3 holes in the head.
  6. Bridge - part B:  I used a small piece of trim. Discontinuuity used a bamboo chopstick.
  7. Something to make the nut. I used the same trim that I used on the bridge, but in retrospect, I should have used something with a thinner profile. Discontinuuity used a nail with the tip cut off.
  8. Random chunks of wood. An old 1 1/2" thick  deck rail that is angled on one end is perfect. (deck rail = skinny piece of wood that runs vertically.)
  9. Random hardware. The tuning pegs & hinge came with their own screws, but I needed a spare screw to attach the tailpiece.
  10. Wood glue

  11. Tiny hinges for your box if yours doesn't already have them. (heh, heh. I said 'box.')
Tools You'll Need:
*Note: You don't absolutely have to use power tools, but some of us had them, and we were all thoroughly over-excited about getting to use them.


  1. 1/4 sheet palm sander (You can sand by hand - but an electric sander sure saves time.) & 1/4 sheets of sandpaper in various grits
  2. Drill
  3. Dremel tool with sanding barrels and cutting wheels (Mine was the cheapest, cordless version. A couple of the others had fancier ones with up to 10 speed settings. This is probably the most optional of the tools. I mainly used it for sanding the f-holes.)
  4. Clamps (2 or 3)
  5. Chisel
  6. Pencil
  7. Utility Knife
  8.  Snips (You only need these if you're working with metal for your bridge piece.)
  9. Small keyhole saw
  10. Ruler
  11. Hand Saw

 
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C_Maconroe3 years ago
If I get 4 bass strings and a long enough neck would that be a cigar bass?
im a bass player and yes, it will work........ if u really want to make it diy, use weedwacker strings because they are cheaper and are good if already have them......
could i just cut the notch in the cigar box to accomidate for the lid? or do you have to cut down the neck?
I built one that did not include a notched neck, a few days ago, (my first one actually). It just a has deeper cut into the box so that the lid could close all of the way. It works more or less, but the problem with that is that you end up not being able to fret all the way up the neck; at a certain point the strings hit the edge of the lid. With the notch cut in, the neck should be completely flush with the lid.
mhyden13 years ago
Harry Potter in the background!
onlyjus3 years ago

Sweet! I built two so far and have collected a pile of cigar boxes for more!

Check them out here: http://onlyjus-cbg.blogspot.com/
DSC_0044_edit.JPGDSC_0300.JPG
dirtyroger4 years ago
nice build, are you using nylon strings??

I'm starting a blog on my first CBG here dirtyguitarguide.com
hey, well done, but i'd have to say you took some steps that would be difficult for a real beginer to follow, that may not be necessary. you built something that may work out really well for you, but i would hate to ask a complete novice to notch out a neck or to cut f-holes. seriously, this is a nice build! you should be proud of it!!!!! i'd love to see a video to see/hear how it sounds! feel free to check out my build method here, it may give you some ideas about simplification... http://www.instructables.com/id/cigar-box-guitar-in-one-hour-the-Uncle-Crow-way/ have a great day! [and if you're not already, come over to cigarboxnation.com and join the revolutioin!!! look for me there, my name is "crow"!!!!]
Cool guitar!  It looks like the strings sit pretty high off of the neck on yours; how does it play?

For the record, this is a coping saw (also called a jeweler's saw I think):

Glad I could inspire some makers!
Image uploading isn't working for me right now.  Here's the link if it doesn't work:
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/coping-saw-1.jpg
<img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/coping-saw-1.jpg">
gerlindagrimes (author) 4 years ago
Flio191 - that's a cool idea! Wish I had read it before I went & re-drilled my tuning peg holes. Oh well!

So, I knocked off the piece of trim I'd used for a nut& replaced it with a screw, which has a much thinner profile. Also, I re-drilled holes for the tuning pegs so that the neck has 2 pegs on 1 side, slightly offset from each other, and one peg on the other side. The guitar plays a little better now. I still need to replace the trim piece I used for a bridge with something thinner.

BTW - There was a festival in Atlanta last weekend, and this guy Mike Snowden had a booth where he was displaying his cigar box guitars. They're gorgeous! And they sound awesome too. http://snowdenguitars.com/index.html
BIGA4 years ago
ANYONE interested in these should go to CIGARBOXNATION.com and Handmademusicalclubhouse/ TED CROCKER  Peace / BIGA
flio1914 years ago
You know, all you need to do to fix that straight pegged part is to add little metal catches that bring the string to where you need them before the top... like this:
imgur.com/J6klq.png
flio191 flio1914 years ago
nevermind, just figured out how to upload directly to comments:
strings.png
i like your idea for step5, makes sense i would have done that on my first build if i had saw your instr. first. but i like the neck to stick out of the back  of the box. anyway i liked your instructable it was good did you make it electric or did you make it for decor in your room?
I can't believe someone actually read this instructable! Thanks! I haven't added a pickup yet. I'd like to, but I don't have a soldering iron (and I'm scurrred of that!). I might add one later, after I fix the mistakes I made on this guitar. Or, I might make a different one one day and try to actually add the electronics.