Albeit guitar manufacturing has come a long way in the past hundred years, there is a long history to show that you don't need much to make a guitar. All you need is a box to resonate the sound, a plank of would to act as the fretboard, a few screws, and some string. On account of its simplicity and instant reward factor, it is still pretty fun to build one of these traditional homemade guitars.
Yet, it would be a little silly to ignore all of the great things that have happened to guitars in the last hundred or so years. With this in mind, we are going to be bringing this cigar box into the modern era by amplifying it with a piezo contact pickup and a volume knob.
Step 1: Go get stuff
- 10K-Ohm Audio Control Potentiometer with SPST Switch (Model: 271-215 | Catalog #: 271-215)
- 90dB Piezo Pulse (Model: 273-066 | Catalog #: 273-066)
- 1/4" Mono Panel-Mount Audio Jack (Model: 274-255 | Catalog #: 274-255)
- a cigar box
- 3 feet of 1x2
- 1-1/2" section of half round
- 3" section of half round
- (x3) 1/4" x 3" eye bolts
- (x3) 1/4" wing nuts
- (x3) 1/4" nuts
- (x3) 1/4" washers
- nylon guitar strings
- 5-minute epoxy
Step 2: Measure and mark
Note: This is assuming your 1 x 2 is 1-1/2" wide. Adjust these measurement for the exact length of your 1 x 2 if need be.
Step 3: Cut
Step 4: Measure and mark
On the first line, make a mark 3/8" from the right edge.
On the second line, make a mark 3/8" from the right edge and 3/4" from both edges.
On the third line, make a mark 3/8" from the left edge and 3/4" from both edges.
On the last (fourth) line, make a mark 3/8" from the left edge.
Step 6: Measure and mark again
Step 8: Piezo
Break apart the buzzer case without damaging or bending the piezo disc to free it.
You should be left with only the piezo disc with two wires attached.
Step 9: Audio
Step 10: Wire it up
Wire the red wire from the piezo disc to the right pin of the potentiometer.
Finally, wire the center pin on the side of the potentiometer, to the closest (front) pin on the bottom of the potentiometer. Wire the red wire from the audio jack to the furthest (back) pin of the potentiometer.
Step 11: Drill
Flip the cigar box on its edge so the clasp is facing upwards and drill a 3/8" hole for the audio jack near the potentiometer hole. Make sure not to put this hole too close to the top or bottom of the cigar box, or the audio jack won't be able to fit in.
Step 12: Glue
Make sure that the end of the 1x2 with the three small holes is sticking out about half an inch from the cigar box on the side with the potentiometer hole.
Step 13: Glue more
Mix up some more epoxy.
Glue your 3" section of half round to the front of the cigar box towards the edge with the potentiometer hole.
Glue the 1-1/2 section across the length of the top side of the 1x2 about an inch from the holes you drilled there.
Step 14: Tuners
Repeat this process on the center hole in the second line and the left-most hole in the third line.
In short, each bolt should have a hole directly in front of it once complete.
Step 15: Install
Next, insert the audio jack and fasten this as well.
Finally, using standard two-sided tape (preferable), attach the flat side of the piezo element to the underside of the front of the cigar box guitar. Try to place this close to the 3" section of half round that is glued atop.
Step 16: Tie
Repeat the process with the remaining to hex nuts.
Keep track of which string is which. I highly recommend using the high E, B and G strings, as they will add the least amount of tension.
Step 17: String it up
Repeat this in the center for the B string and then again for the G string.
Once all of the strings are tensioned, you can tune them to your liking.