Introduction: Acoustic/Electric Cookie Tin Unitar

About: Dad, maker, dreamer, hacker, painter.
It's a snap to make this fun little one string cookie tin guitar, or unitar. It sounds great acoustic, but if you really want to rock out, make it electric too!

You will need
  • a medium sized cookie tin
  • a scrap of lumber, preferable hardwood...I used a discarded marking peg that I found on the side of the road, great hardwood that construction crews leave all over the place hammered into the ground.
  • a tiny scrap of wood
  • a length of whipper snipper (weed whacker) cord
  • a handful of screws (well four actually)
  • two small nails (I used little brad nails)
  • hot glue

Optional (electric pickup)
  • a 1/4 inch phone jack
  • a piezo element (you can find these in all kinds of discarded toys and dollar store crap)
  • some wire

Step 1: Attach the Neck to the Body

Make some marks on the side of your cookie tin before you cut by simple holding your lumber in position on the side of the tin and tracing around the edge. You will want the neck to pass through as close to the bottom face of the tin as you can manage. It will only be passing through one side.

Cut three sides of the hole , allow the uncut side to fold when you push the neck through, this will keep the whole thing tighter fitting, and ultimately cleaner sounding.

Shove the neck through, and then secure the other end with two screws, leave one partially unscrewed. We will use this later when we string the unitar.

A third screw goes somewhere near the top straight down, this keeps the sounding chamber tight to the neck, eliminating rattle.

Step 2: Make a Bridge and a Nut

I wanted my unitar to be exciting and fun so I spray painted it pink....actually all I had was pink, oh well work with it.

For the bridge, any block of wood will do.

I had some animals that I had scroll-sawed out and forgotten about.
I picked the pig, and painted him up because he matched the pinkness best.
A pig is not required, but it will up your rock star status.
Anything will do, the idea is to get the string leveraged enough that it clears the edge of the tin....this little baby has pretty high action.

Just hot glue it in place near the bottom of what is starting to look like an awesome unitar.

This will raise the string, but because it will have a lot of contact with the pig, it will dull the sound , so we will add another small piece of wood to fix that. You could use just about anything, a hunk of a pencil, or a twig. I have lots of little scraps around my shop, so I went with one of those.

A small groove cut into it will keep the string in the same position. We will put this in after stringing, so just put it aside for now.

Two staggered brad nails form the nut at the head of the unitar. Another screw left unscrewed a bit will serve to hold the other end of the cord.

Step 3: String It

Tie a knot around the bottom protruding screw, pull the string as tight as you can against one of the two brads.

When it is as tight as you can pull it, wrap a few turns around the other screw, then pass the cord under itself.

Tighten the screw and then cut off the excess.

Pull the string up over the other brad nail for a touch more tightness, this also allows for two tunings. flip it on and off to hear the difference.

Tighten the bottom screw all the way in as well.

Finally put the finishing piece (from the previous step) into place, play with its position until you are pleased with the sound.

Step 4: Electric Avenue

Now take a break from playing, because if you got this far, you were surely playing and it was surely epic.
This thing sounds way cooler electric.
This is a simple piezo pickup that you could easily adapt to other projects.

Solder a wire from the center of your piezo to the signal connector on your phone jack, and from the outside edge of the piezo to the ground of the phone jack.

Install the phone jack in a comfortable location, and use a dab of hot glue to stick the piezo element face down on the wood.

Plug it in and try it out now.

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