Intro: My First Box Guitar
It happened when I was cruising the "brick-a-brack" section at Ross. There it was, a First Act beginner's electric guitar with amp for $35. Right after adding it to my cart, a musically inspired jewelery box caught my eye.
What you'll need...
A donor electric guitar
If adding a second pickup...
(I've always been a fan of musicians that run 2 amps to their guitar ala Bob Log III)
A piezo buzzer
A 1/4 inch female mono jack
1 volume knob
all the above can be had at your local Radio Shack
And other things you'll need...
Soldering iron and solder
some extra wire length (I used an old headphone wire)
A drill with various drill bits
and a means for cutting wood
Everything else will be supplied by the donor guitar.
Step 1: Break 'em on Down...
First thing is to take apart the electric guitar.
Start by removing the strings.
After that the neck will unscrew from the body.
Then you can unscrew the bridge and pickup.
You will have to cut the wires from the pickup and give yourself room on the pickup wiring. You will be soldering them back together.
Unscrew the pick guard and the cover on the back.
The volume and tone knobs can be pried up and off.
You then can unscrew the bolts holding the potentiometers and the mono jack.
And don't forget the jack plate and screws.
Keep all the wiring intact with the exception of the wires you cut to get the pickup out. Set aside everything you take off the donor guitar as you will need them.
At this point you should have something like the picture. Now would be a good time to remove the hinges from your jewelery box as well.
Step 2: No Matter What Shape Your Guitar's In...
Time to cut the body. You only want to keep the part from the neck to the bridge.
Step 3: Here We Go Again...
Now to cut the box lid. I tried to line up the more aerodynamic guitar body in a position that would conserve as much graphic as possible. Hopefully you're better at woodworking than I am.
Step 4: F-Hole Parade...
Now to line the neck up with the box lid and glue it in place. I let it sit for about an hour while I took a lunch break. After lunch I went ahead and installed the pickup. I also noticed that the guitar had a wire that sat bare under the bridge and connected to the grounds on the pots. I assume it's for noise shielding and nevertheless I ran that wire as well. I then decided to try my luck with cutting f-holes. Like I said, I hope your woodworking skills are better than mine.
Step 5: Yeah, It's That Easy...
No time to transfer your old guitar hardware over.
I started with the strap buttons.
Then I drilled holes for Amp 1 and Amp 2. The hole for amp 1 had to drilled bigger so I could make use of the bezel from the old guitar.
Now to reference my piezo schematic.
I then drilled holes and connected my volume and tone knobs.
Now to reconnect the wires I cut, but with some extra length added.
Reattach the box lid hinges and latch.
Attach my jack outputs and tape the wires out of the way.
Step 6: For Those Who Are About to Rock...
Well about 1 weekend and $50 later you're ready to create musical fusion. Time to string it up and get in tune. Get some tabs for your favorite Dire Straits song (my christening song was "Money for Nothing") and crank it up to 11.
I did enjoy this build even though it was kind of cheating. I have been interested in building a box guitar for a while but have found guitar parts to be a bit on the expensive side. A set of new tuning machines can go for as much as $40 at the local music store. Add in the cost of wood for the neck and electronics and you could easily spend 100 large. It may not be the prettiest axe on the stage, but at least it's not a cookie cutter. I did notice that due to the thickness of the jewelery box, the acoustics have a very low tone and may not be as loud as I'd like. One thing I may try is mounting the practice amp that came with the guitar inside the box. If I came across another cheap guitar again I would definitely consider making another. I already have a really nice cigar box on standby now that I know the limits of my carpentry skills.
Hope you enjoyed this Instructable.