Instructables
Picture of Cardboard Electric Guitar
Thanks to Amazon's inefficient packing methods, particularly their love affair with oversize boxes, and my aversion to having to interact with people while I shop we almost always have a more cardboard on hand than I can fit in our recycling bin. When I first considered a project to reuse the cardboard I was going to make some saw horses using theRIAA's method for building cardboard lumber. I don't know how or when this turned into a guitar but it did.
I still used his wheatpaste recipe and the construction method is similar but follows a more traditional method of composite build-up, shaping the plies beforehand and laying up net as opposed to cutting the final shape out of a cured blank.

A disclaimer, of sorts: While this project is not a failure it does need some tweaking. Think of it as an advanced proof of concept. It looks great and I was able to get some sound out of it and show viability but a pretty daft design flaw in the headstock prevented full tension from being applied to the strings. I still show the whole process but at the end I'll point out the failures and discuss how I'm working to fix them. Hopefully I'll be able to strike this through soon when I apply a fix.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
gmoon1 year ago
Hey, I love this! I want to see it in action!

However, if you don't mind, I'd like to share some thoughts (disclaimer: I am NOT an engineer)...

--Try a harder substance for the nut; after all, you've already used a manufactured metal bridge. Traditionally nuts are bone (easy to work), while modern nuts can be also be plastic, graphite, metal, etc. A guitar with a cardboard nut will never make a sound above a "thud."

-- Your neck construction is great, and it's one step away from a full composite (I have some MIJ guitars which are made of thin laminated with the same bias). Dripping or soaking it in resin wouldn't be cheating (not when you're using steel keys and bridge).

-- There's a type of guitar construction called "through neck," where the wood for the neck continues down through the body, all the way to the tailpiece (which you don't have with a fender-style bridge). That would be even more ridged, methinks. The body can be two "wings" attached to the neck.

-- It's way difficult to make a playable guitar without a truss rod, together with a ridged wood fingerboard (the two work together). Maybe look at a slide guitar for your next project...
lilflo1331 gmoon2 months ago
agreed
nancyjohns5 months ago

One word, WOWZA!

So, could you sort out the difficulties?

loafers1 year ago
Brilliant idea, It looks really good, any updates or changes since?
I just recently bought my first guitar to learn with, I've always wanted to try building one out of alternative materials, but needed an actual instrument to base it off. If you could get the tension right, how ideal would an updated version of your cardboard guitar be for playing?
bwrussell (author)  loafers1 year ago
I haven't gotten back to it yet. :/
I'm not a guitarist, I can pick at one but I'm a probably not the best judge of playability. I would say, assuming I can get everything tightened down that it will be at least serviceable and playable. I was able to get some sound from it and it sounded like a guitar but the combination of bad head stock and cheap amp made it hard to judge the quality.
If I ever dip back into this I'll be sure to let you know the results, even if I don't post a new guide.
petrovias1 year ago
My dog put me onto this :) Husky Howl Round Stabilising Black and White Malamute Wolves from the Dire Wolf Project.
Brilliant idea!!!!
bwrussell (author)  the Big Cheese1 year ago
Thanks!
MikB1 year ago
Next time you try this, try making the headstock and neck as a single piece, with a "break" (back angle) like any guitar/ukulele. That way, the strength of the neck would be better maintained and the headstock is less likely to fold.

I admire your bravery in putting steel strings on though, even wood necks don't like that without a truss rod.
bwrussell (author)  MikB1 year ago
It has to be steel strings because it is electric. Synthetic strings won't cause induction in the pickup.
MikB bwrussell1 year ago
I understand that, but as you've discovered, cardboard has a limit to its strength!

Ever seen what happens when someone puts steel strings on a nylon-only acoustic? Bendy as banana wood! The metal truss rod is not there for fun in electric guitars, 6 strings at normal tension can bend and snap wood.

Best of luck!
MikB MikB1 year ago
The neck design -- like this one here (which I guess you've seen because of the cotter pin frets!) http://www.instructables.com/id/Playable-Cardboard-Ukulele/
theshades1 year ago
Nice Idea. I like the cotter pin fretts.
Your schematic for the Tone adjust needs fixing. The wiper is not connected to anything.
I hope the concept works works. This would be a great idea for kids in developing countries. You should see the amazing things thay make instruments out of already.
bwrussell (author)  theshades1 year ago
Thanks, although like I said I can't really take credit for frets.
Good catch on the circuit. It was late and I was in a hurry. I wired it correctly but the diagram is wrong.
That's an interesting point about use in developing countries. If you had access to a laser cutter or CNC router it could actually be feasible. One hurdle would be the need for an amp for it to be fully functional.
Very well done. Can we get a video of you playing it?
bwrussell (author)  mikeasaurus1 year ago
Thanks!
The one video I had of it working, while I tuned it, was lost when my camera corrupted its SD card. I'm working as fast as I can to fix the broken headstock and will post a video asap.
Be warned that I don't really know how to pay guitar though :D