In this Instructable, I will be documenting my first attempt to build a Cigar Box Ukulele. It's a work in progress, so I will be updating this Instructable along the way. Feedback is appreciated. My Cigar Box Uke will actually be built from a wine box not a cigar box, but Wine Box Ukulele just doesn't roll off the toungue as well. This is a wood box that held two bottles of wine, not a box from a box of wine. Cardboard just wouldn't sound the same (although... having a spigot on my ukulele might be something to think about for next time...) I think I'll call this one a "Winolele" due to the source.
The origin of cigar box instruments is in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when around the time of the Civil War there were many people seeking to express themselves through music but could not afford to buy real musical instruments. Later, home built, Cigar box instruments where especially important in the rise of the Blues as they provided an accessable means to create great music. Instruments as simple as a box, broom handle and string were enough for some people to find inspiration and create great music by simple means.
Some of the great pioneers of rock n roll started with a simple cigar box instrument, pioneers of rock n’ roll such as Carl Perkins, blues greats like Lightin’ Hopkins, B.B. King, Blind Willie Johnson and Charlie Christian all started with a Cigar Box Guitar. The great B.B. King did not start with a Gibson but a homemade cigar box guitar that his father made for him in his shed.
Step 1: Part Sources- the Box
I got this at the Liquor Barn. $13 bucks for the box and two bottles of wine! I was ready to pay this much for a cigar box on ebay until I saw this. The box even has tounge and grooved corners for added strength. Plywood, not solid wood, but it is about 1/4" thick on all sides and acts like it will have a good sound.