Make Your Own Cigar Box Guitar / Mp3 Player Amplifier

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Picture of Make Your Own Cigar Box Guitar / Mp3 Player Amplifier
I've wanted to create a Cigar Box Guitar and Amp for quite some time, and it seems like the Instructable Sound Hack and Battery Powered contestst were just the extra incentive I needed to give it a try.

This Instructable shows how to create a Cigar Box Amplifier, of course it can also be used as an MP3 player or Phone amplifier. I decided to build the amplifier before the guitar since it's certainly easier, but hopefully a Cigar Box Guitar Instructable will follow soon!

If you haven't heard of Cigar Box Guitars, you should check them out. YouTube has lots of videos demonstrating amazing sound from these 3 stringed instruments. 

Here's an example of a CBG in Action:

Actually they don't all have 3 strings, but hey this is about the amplifier anyway,
let's build one!
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Step 1: Gather Tools and Parts

Picture of Gather Tools and Parts
What's Needed for this Guitar Box Amplifier Instructable?
  • Cigar Box - I have a friend who occasionally smokes a cigar, he tells me they are all legal (at least somewhere in the world ;-) ). I noticed these can also be found at Yard Sales, on eBay and sometimes for free in Tobacco Stores.
  • LM386 chip based amplifier circuit - I got a kit for this from   (some sites sell pre-soldered kits as well) but you can likely make your own. Parts needed are: Potentiometer, LM386 Chip, Resistor, 2 Capacitors, 9V battery connector and Guitar jack.
  • 8 Ohm Speaker (I got mine from an old projection TV)
  • Switch (optional) - didn't come with the kit, but I thought it would be handy to save on batteries.
  • Wire
  • Miscellaneous parts for decoration, most important is something to cover the speaker, (I used the plastic which originally covered the speaker on the TV). Optional: Handle, Legs, battery holder, Something to keep the cover of the box closed, 
Tools Needed for This Instructable:
  • Drill 
  • Soldering Iron and Solder (unless you buy a pre-soldered kit)
  • Hole Saw (optional) to cut the speaker hole (or use a drill and Dremmel or X-Acto knife)
Now that you have your parts... 
Step One is to solder together the kit, as seen in the picture below. 
(It's a good idea to get a general feel for where all the parts are going to be installed before you actually start cutting wire and soldering. You'll notice I left way too much slack on my speaker wire)
What strength POT do you recommend with the LM386 chip?
mazzmn (author)  magicchance1 year ago
A 10k POT is what's needed, here's an instructable link that gives some more background on why...including a link to the LM386 chip datasheet
mazzmn (author)  magicchance1 year ago
I'm out of the office right now so I can't measure or check this out..but I will look into and get back to you
furthuron1 year ago
wow, i am impressed!! awesome quitar and a dang good cover too!! love some muddy.
mazzmn (author)  furthuron1 year ago
Me too! Just to be clear the video of a CBG being played is not me, but thanks to
YouTube and Booniesville, check out his other videos here: