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.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Corrugated Cardboard (Free) - It should be clean, unbent, and uncoated. Finding pieces large enough for the body is the biggest challenge. If you don't have any around, talk to someone at a store that sells appliances. One refrigerator box is probably enough for the entire project.
  • Wheatpaste (Free) - A simple mixture of flour, water, and vinegar. 4-to-1 water to flour with a tablespoon of vinegar (as a preservative). Heat and stir until thickened.
  • Machine Heads ($5 - eBay) - You need a total of 6 pegs, single or connected it doesn't matter.
  • Bridge/Tailpiece ($8 - eBay) - Make sure you have both a bridge and a tailpiece. The bridge is what the strings pass over at the bottom of the body and the tailpiece holds the strings in place.
  • 6 String Electric Pickup ($3 - eBay) - You can make your own with magnet wire and magnets, that was my original plan, but time constraints and the low cost of pre-built units.
  • Strings ($2 - eBay) - The strings need to be for electric guitars or else the pickup will not work. Synthetic strings will not work.
  • 2x 500k Potentiometers w/ Panel Nuts - For the pickup circuit, one controls volume the other helps control tone as part of a low pass filter.
  • .022µF Capacitor - The other part of the tone adjustment.
  • 1/4" Mono Audio Jack ($2 - RadioShack)
  • 2x Set Screw Knobs
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Utility/Hobby Knife
  • Brush
  • Tape
  • Drill/Bits
  • Soldering Equipment
  • Wire Cutters
  • Tuner -  Or tuning forks, or another, tuned, instrument.
  • Guitar Amplifier - Along with a M/M 1/4" cord.
Nice do you think this would be a satisfactory learning one? Like to try learning before buying a storebought one?
Honestly with the cost of materials and the time and effort you'd probably be better off just buying a real cheap one second hand if you actually want to learn.
Ok, thanks :)
<p>Hey, I was wondering because me and my dad tried to print the neck and we taped two pieces of paper together to make it long enough. But, when we fed it into the printer it says that there is a error with how big it is and that the paper is to small. So, we put in some manual settings for 20-inches so that we could print it, but it still didn't work right. It just printed out a small piece of the neck then stopped.</p>
Sounds like the error is because the printer doesn't know you have a bigger sheet in it. I'd try to print it on multiple sheets and then tape them together after. Alternatively you could take the files to a print shop and have them use a plotter to print them on large format paper.<br>I used a plotter at work which didn't occur to me as a problem for others without access until now. Oops.
Hey, I love this! I want to see it in action!<br> <br> However, if you don't mind, I'd like to share some thoughts (disclaimer: I am NOT an engineer)...<br> <br> --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 &quot;thud.&quot;<br> <br> -- 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).<br> <br> -- There's a type of guitar construction called &quot;through neck,&quot; 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 &quot;wings&quot; attached to the neck.<br> <br> -- It's <em>way</em> 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...
<p>One word, WOWZA!</p>
<p>So, could you sort out the difficulties?</p>
Brilliant idea, It looks really good, any updates or changes since?<br>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&nbsp;cardboard guitar be for playing?
I haven't gotten back to it yet. :/ <br>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. <br>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.
My dog put me onto this :) Husky Howl Round Stabilising Black and White Malamute Wolves from the Dire Wolf Project.
Brilliant idea!!!!
preety nice
Next time you try this, try making the headstock and neck as a single piece, with a &quot;break&quot; (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. <br> <br>I admire your bravery in putting steel strings on though, even wood necks don't like that without a truss rod.
It has to be steel strings because it is electric. Synthetic strings won't cause induction in the pickup.
I understand that, but as you've discovered, cardboard has a limit to its strength! <br> <br>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. <br> <br>Best of luck!
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/
Nice Idea. I like the cotter pin fretts. <br>Your schematic for the Tone adjust needs fixing. The wiper is not connected to anything. <br> 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.
Thanks, although like I said I can't really take credit for frets. <br>Good catch on the circuit. It was late and I was in a hurry. I wired it correctly but the diagram is wrong. <br>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?
Thanks!<br>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.<br>Be warned that I don't really know how to pay guitar though :D

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Bio: Why buy when you can DIY? Educated a Mechanical Engineer and trained as a classical cellist I consider myself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, dabbling ... More »
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