Step 1: Materials
The materials needed for this project are as follows:
- Altoids tin (eat up!)
- Wooden slats (I used red oak ones from Lowes)
- Guitar tuning pegs (3) (bought a set of six at the local music store)
- Nylon spacers (found in the specialty hardware section)
- Piezo element
- 1/4" audio jack
- Guerilla glue, hot glue, super glue... (get the picture?)
- Electric guitar strings
- Guitar strap buttons (2)
- At least 12oz. of ice cold liquid creativity *optional, but recommended
The tools I used were as follows:
- Dremel tool with router bit and small cutting wheel bit
- Bar clamps
Step 2: Basic Form
First, take the empty Altoids tin and cut a slot in the side you want the neck to be on. (keep in mind the orientation of the logo on the tin) This slot should be just big enough for one wooden slat to fit into. I used the router bit on my dremel tool, which seemed to work pretty well.
Once this is done, cut a length of wood the length of the neck and headstock, plus the length it will extend into the tin (be sure to leave enough room inside the tin to accomodate the audio jack)
Moisten the end of the slat, and use guerilla glue to secure the wood to the inside of the tin. Clamp them together, and let the glue fully cure.
Cut another piece of wood to the length spanning from the tin to the end of the previous piece. Finally, cut one more piece of wood to span from the tin to the end of the neck (leave enough room for the tuning pegs in the headstock) When measuring these, be sure to leave enough space away from the tin so it will open and close.
Moisten and sandwich the two additional pieces of wood on top of the first with guerilla glue in between. Once again, clamp them all together with bar clamps and let the glue fully cure.
You now have the basic guitar form. Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, and play a little air guitar (anything by Journey should do just fine)
Step 3: Adding the Details
Measure and drill holes for the tuning pegs, and secure them onto the headstock.
Drill a hole in the tin for the audio jack, and mount it. I had to cut a bit of the lid away for it to fit.
Cut the nylon spacers in half longways, the best way you can... (this was a bear, I used a clamp and my jigsaw) I needed to combine two lengths of spacers to span the width of the guitar.
Superglue the nylon to the end of the neck, and to the base of the tin (for the bridge)
Drill holes in the tin for the strings (next to the audio jack), and one in the lid for the piezo sensor.
Finally, mount the strap buttons on the guitar. I mounted one to the back of the neck towards the headstock, and one to the back of the tin (this one required a michine screw and nut instead of the traditional wood screw)
Step 4: Wired and Strung Out...
At last, it's time to see what this thing can do!
Wire the piezo sensor to the audio jack. Be sure to test it before securing it permanently...
Once the piezo is wired up, use some hot glue to secure it to the lid of the tin (just over the hole you drilled).
Finally, run the strings through the holes in the tin and run them to their respective tuning pegs.
Step 5: Tune It Up, Plug It In, and ROCK OUT!!!
That's it! Rock out with your curiously small guitar!
There were some extra features I wanted to do, but didn't have time to get around to. Obviously, some frets would make for an easier playing guitar. Another thing that might help would be the bracket found on the headstocks of most guitars that hold the strings flat against the nut. I found that the strings would at times try to slide up the tuning peg to the point where they were no longer touching the nut. I plan on attempting to add these to my own Altoids guitar when I get around to making it. If successful, I'll be sure to post an update.
Thanks for checking this out, and whatever you do, be sure to have some fun with it!