Picture of Build an Inexpensive Cigar Box Guitar at Home
Hello. As a birthday present for my brother, I decided to make him a nice cigar box guitar. This is the first one I've ever made so it was a bit of a learning experience.

Before making the guitar, I decided that it should be made from either found or very cheaply obtained materials. Most of the items I used were not originally meant for use in a guitar, I don't think I spent more then $50 for all the parts. It's not a dirt cheap guitar, but it wont hurt the wallet either.

Also, since I don't have any big power tool, I had to be able to make it in my kitchen using handheld tools i already had. (with the exception of the fingerboard which i had cut for me from from a scrap of plywood at a hardware store)

And lastly, I wanted to make this instructable because I wanted to share everything I learned, plus to give back for all the helpful guides I used for this project. There are lots of fantastic cigar box instructables on this very site, just do a search!

This project has a lot of steps, so i tried to divide it up in to logical sections. Hope its not confusing!

Here are some essential tools:
Dremmel (best tool ever)
different sand papers
couple of different files
coping saw
lots of clamps
hot glue


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JordanC18 months ago

a holesaw could be used for the holes

rmedina11010 months ago

Well done! One of the best tutorials on the subject. Very elaborate. The steps and pictures are nicely detailed. I'm gathering my materials along with ideas and this one will serve as my inspiration and guide. Thnx!

Nice work. What song are you playing?

The artical is very good and the guitar turned out awsome

I have been experimenting with resonators in my cigar box guitars but using a tin can lid

Thought you might like to check it out

check my blog out if you get time


Very very very nice build!
One thing, though--no need for fretwire right under the nut. They don't serve as position markers, they are what changes a strings pitch when pressed. That one under the nut serves no function.
I've made a bunch of cigar box guitars but I've always use really hard exotic woods like blood wood and purple heart. I always use a truss rod on them as well, so i am trying to see how others hold up with out a truss rod. I'm starting to think i am wasting my money on truss rods. any feedback on that note?
nickdrj (author)  duane jameson3 years ago
Thanks! The action is really high, you can t really play with without a slide. So maybe a truss would control the action better. I bet yours are probably more durable as well, this ones done on the cheap, but whats fun is even if its made out of a tissue box itll have some sort of sound.
A truss rod does nothing for the action--it adjusts neck tension.
Raising/lowering the bridge adjusts action.
CBGs were "poor men's" guitars.
They had no truss rods, and were built with whatever scrap was laying around.
Todsy's CBGs are no different.
Very good job! You should be proud of the finished product, also bear in mind the Golden Rule of making a CBG; THERE ARE NO RULES! Yes, you can use exotic woods, and yes, you can do many other things (truss rods, etc.), but remember, back in the day, you used what you could get your hands on. I personally have used an old wood ammo box, made my own boxes from scraps, and basically used any and all materials that would lend character, tradition, and that unique flavor that comes only with an instrument you've made with your own hands. Keep up the good work, I encourage you to continue and not be afraid of crafting your style. Bon chance!
valveman2 years ago
Very nice instructable.
I see the action is kinda high. Is that normally where cigar box guitars are set?
Like the tone on yours by the way.
An alternate way I have done frets on homemade guitars is to notch each side at the apropriate mesurement for each side and to wrap fishing line or tiewire. simple and cheap
how well does that work? ive heard of it before, but ive never seen/heard it in action
nickdrj (author)  Mrdantheguitarman5 years ago
Cool idea, I like it!
chill9993 years ago
FINALLY!!! A real explanation on how to wire the pickup!!! THANY YOU!!!!
duckman6334 years ago
would it be nice if i dont have an amp on it
I'm on my 5th guit box (I'm trying to make a Dobro out of a really nice Jack Daniels tin) You can find lots of information at http://www.cigarboxnation.com/
Hey, I'm really confused. I'm definitely not a handy man, but I really want to make it. It would be really helpful if you could give me more dimensions and more details, if you could. Or a video of you making it, if you still make them after that one time for your brothers birthday. Like, you could tell me how deep you cut the hole for the neck, and how big the sound holes are, and stuff like that. Please reply!
I'm on my 5th guit box (I'm trying to make a Dobro out of a really nice Jack Daniels tin) You can find lots of information at http://www.cigarboxnation.com/
C_Maconroe4 years ago
If I get 4 bass strings and a long enough neck would that be a cigar bass?
FIAT RACING4 years ago
what strings are you using? E,D,B and e or?
great question i am wondering as well...
Hey, nice, a good bit of inspiration for me.

Do you reckon it'd work if it was made out of metal? I was going to go an old cake tin for the body... would I get good sound or does wood have special vibratory propeties?
nickdrj (author)  Decons-duck-tor4 years ago
Hey, I think any hollow chamber will do, including metal. I've seen designs around the internet made from all sorts of stuff. The fun of making one of these is you never really know how it'll sound and theres no right way to make them. Believe me it'll make a sound, and it'll be unique and loud. Good luck!
friger4 years ago
Very well done instructable, and a great looking git. I like the sound you are getting from it, nice and bluesy. I have built about 25 CBG's and am using very similar methods as you, here is a couple of pics from my last commission. keep building!
dirtyroger4 years ago
Hey man thats a great finish on the build! good work

I've started a blog for my first CBG build here dirtyguitarguide.com
nickdrj (author)  dirtyroger4 years ago
cool great blog. thanks for sharing.
svend4 years ago
my piezo buzzer has three wires on the metal disc. what wires do i solder to?
nickdrj (author)  svend4 years ago
Hi. i looked in to it on this forum and it appears its a feedback loop (they say its blue), not sure what that does but i read there that you can just ignore it. Try connecting the other two and see if you pick up sound.

hope that helps
Hey. Did you have to remove any excess epoxy from around the frets? and how did you do it?
nickdrj (author)  Psycho Chicken4 years ago
Hi. I first sawed some grooves for the frets to go in to. I didn't put a lot of epoxy, just enough to hold it, any excess epoxy you can just file off when it dries but i didn't have that issue.
Fair enough, Thanks for the help. Cheers!
tiny3o925 years ago
hey! Awesome work done hey! Just one question... I saw you used steel strings... didn't you need to put in a truss rod or did the neck held up? Thanx!
nickdrj (author)  tiny3o925 years ago
Hi! Thanks for the comments. The neck is holding up ok, I think that since the neck goes through the entire body, plus its only 4 strings, it doesnt stress it out too much. The action is a bit high towards the higher frets but i think thats more because i made the bridge a little tall. Hope that answers your question.
Haha no problem! Thanks for the reply. I want to know if I made a 6 string one do you think that would be a problem with the tension or should I add a truss rod then ? I'm just a beginner though but I really want to start building guitars. So I have tons of questions. Thanks for the help!
Canas tiny3o925 years ago
I know I keep jumping in on these comments, but mainly because I keep coming back for reference on one I'm building now. If you're a beginner, a 4-stringer is much easier to make. 6 strings is very difficult to work with. I was able to build a 6 string CBG without a truss rod. All I had to do was add a few wood ribs to the inside of the box.
tiny3o92 Canas5 years ago
okay cool thanx for the help i'll probably start next year when i'm finished with school! all the best
rhysc5 years ago
Would these be applicable? http://cgi.ebay.com.au/5-Prewired-27mm-Piezo-Disc-Element-Contact-Mic-/270579004794?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2 I live in Australia and we dont have radioshack :(
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