Picture of Electric Cigar Box Guitar

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.
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Step 1: Go get stuff

Picture of Go get stuff
You will need:

- 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

Picture of Measure and mark
Open up your cigar box. On each of the shorter edges, find the center point and then measure 3/4" in each direction from this point.

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

Picture of Cut
Where you have made your marks, cut down until you have made two square holes that are flush with the top of the case that are the size of your 1x2.
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marrymay1 month ago

If this is possible to make it able to chain with the effect pedals? Ha...if that's ok, I am sure that i will go with a distortion guitar first!

Could you possibly provide a video clip or a sound clip?

Ninjakaib2 years ago
How much would it cost to make this?
Depends on what materials and "extras" you choose.
Just use the checklist provided and use Google to start a basic search to get an idea.
randofo (author)  Ninjakaib2 years ago
Not much. $20 - $30 at most. Probably less.
SantaB1 year ago
It's nice not to glue down the bridge part (the wooden part down where you first insert the strings, with the 3 holes). This will allow you to slide it about to make sure you get the correct pitch. Estimating on a fretless where a note should be will be much easier if the guitar's intonation is correct. Some folks never glue their bridge down. Cutting slots for the strings to fit/guide into would also be good for the bridge and nut.

I am just finishing my first build and about to start a second (just like this one shown in this 'ible).
Tabak'o Guitar.jpg
Great choice for a cigar box, man!
Love the look of that one.
pianoman231 year ago
I'm confused because your directions for wiring don't match your pictures or video and the pictures of the wirings don't even match the video of the wirings. In the pictures, you don't show wires on the middle terminal of the pod or on the back prongs and in your video you have red wire on the left terminal and black on the right when in the picture it's opposite. Am I just misunderstanding something.
There is no wire going to the middle lug on the pot--it's grounded. It needs to be bent back and soldered to the flat surface of the pot.
Just Google "guitar wiring diagrams" and pick the 1 pickup diagram.
randofo (author)  pianoman231 year ago
Go by the pictures and text, not the video. I am pretty sure the picture matches the text. What exactly are you confused about?

This is a FANTASTIC tutorial, and you made a fine looking CBG. I like that you went with anon-paper covered cigar box--it adds class to the guitar.

My question/concern, is why you went with a 10K Ohm pot. A 10K pot really limits your range. For anyone else building a CBG--please go with a 500K or even a 250K Ohm pot. Make sure it's an audio(log), too--not a linear taper.

So if i were to wire it the way you wired it will the on off switch in the pot still work?
The pot more than likely works as a volume...
I know nothing about guitars; does the cigar box dimensions affect the sound? Do I need to keep within any particular range of dimensions? thanks
Yes, smaller the box, smaller the potential resonance and sound. An average box at the local cigar shop should only be a few bucks. I think I paid $3 for the one I made above and $1-$2 for a smaller paper covered, wooded, Punch box (those being the average size, like the one in this 'ible).
noah paco1 year ago
noah paco1 year ago
I am making one for my dads Father's Day gift
Nice build. ThX for sharing.
kaufmandk2 years ago
Just finished building one and I can't be happier. I have mine tuned to D F# A at the moment w/ the (GBE nylon strings). It stays in tune for the most part, but I still need to let the strings break in.

You actually want to get 6 1/4" washers as they tell you to put one on the back and front of the headstock for each eye bolt. Being out of washers, I fashioned some from an old bread pan, it's quite classy :) It's also nice to have things like random files, a coping saw and some good clamps help the process.

Other than that, I drilled into the bridge side for my jack and used a spade bit to widen the hole enuf so I could fit it in. It makes sense to put it on the bottom, but I like it on the side. I taped my piezo right under the bridge on the bottom of the neck.

It turns out feeling like a 3-string diddley bow to me, but I could see how lowering the bridge and nut down and adding frets would produce a different instrument altogether.

For fret markers, I have been using stickers and then taping over them with clear packaging tape. It's easy and that's all I really need.

This site helped me setup the wiring for the guitar. Use alligator clips to replicate it then check it with an amp to see if everything is working right before you solder it in.
Add one more string and you would have a ukulele! Nice job by the way.
I got myself the cigar box and had taken a electric kiddy guitar apart for some hybrid combonation guitar. now you ible has inspired me to use the volume pizeo and audio jack method you describe here . great resuilts youi got. mine is all flexable the part with two by one showed me how to over come that problem. and i was trying to figure out the way to get tensioners this just fixes alot doughts i was having gee wiz thanks . I passed on a mini amp i could got for two buxcks it fit so well right in the box maybe its still there hopefuly it had two AA battery box mini amp n flat speaker
blodefood3 years ago
Fretless, I see. More of a challenge to learn to play.

Great ible!
REA3 years ago
Cigar box guitars have been getting popular recently, I've noticed. Very nice instructable! My dad is going to like this.
Redgerr REA3 years ago
getting popular where? O_o
Phoghat Redgerr3 years ago
Long answer...Yes Try  for more information. They also sell kits, offer advice, etc.
REA Redgerr3 years ago
well, i know alot of people are starting to buy and sell them around here.
Booratman3 years ago
Nice pictures! I like the video. By the way, do you know if you can do this without electric additions, would you need acoustic sound holes or what?
Long answer...Yes Try  for more information. They also sell kits, offer advice, etc.
randofo (author)  Booratman3 years ago
No acoustic holes required, but I suppose they could not hurt.
Booratman3 years ago
Do you know if a cigar box could support a fingerboard along the neck?
Long answer...Yes Try  for more information. They also sell kits, offer advice, etc.
lordbot3 years ago
I have your book! this looks like an awesome project...
what dose the pot do?
randofo (author)  Jr Hacking kid3 years ago
It controls volume
where are you guys getting cigar boxes?
randofo (author)  egallagher-doucette3 years ago
I got mine from a cigar shop. They often have extra boxes lying around. You have to ask. Sometimes that might charge you a small fee for them.
Artkid19763 years ago
I'm talking about the potentiometer.
Artkid19763 years ago
Great info, but the photo of the wiring is incorrect. The side mount should actually be the middle mount on the bottom with the others. Not sure if that makes sense.
mrmerino3 years ago
those are the exact piezo and jack i used to make a pickup for my acoustic guitar.
Gabbo5403 years ago
This is definitely being built soon. Good Instructable dude!!
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