Musical Instruments from Cigar Boxes

by W. F. Cord  Popular Mechanics, September 1923

Cigar boxes, which may generally be obtained for the asking from any tobbacconist - who will be glad to get rid of them - can be used to make very passable violins and mandolins.  Of course, it is not expected that a "fiddle" of this variety would possess the tone of a Cremona or Stradivarius, but in the hands of one knowing how to play such an instrument, very creditable results may be attained.

The drawing shows the dimensions and appearances of the various necks in case it is desired to make them at home.  However, if the best results are desired, it is recommended that these, as well as the bridges, tailpieces, strings and similar fittings, be purchased from a music supply house.  If made at home, poplar should be used. 

The Cigar Box Violin should be made from a box about 3 in. deep, 5 in. wide, and from 9 1/2 to 13 in. long, according to the person for whom it is made.

  1. Let the lid form the back of the instrument, but do not nail it down until the work has been completed. 
  2. Glue a block, 3/8 in. wide by 2 1/2 in. long and the same depth as the box, in the end to which the neck is to be fastened, and a smaller block at the opposite end.
  3. Cut the F-shaped sound holes in the top and then drive a few more nails around the edges of the box, to make it stronger.
  4. When the neck has been completed, drill two or three holes through the block and box into the neck for screws
  5. ...then glue the neck in place and screw it on tight.
  6. Next, fasten the fingerboard in place, drill a hole in the rear end and rear block and glue into it a small peg to hold the tailpiece. 

The Bow is also made of poplar and the hairs can be obtained from a long-tailed horse or bought from a music store; ordinary thread can even be used, where it is not possible to obtain horse hair, or to purchase a bow.

Violin, Mandolin, and Guitar that are made from cigar and cheese boxes by the addition of suitable necks and fittings:  Anyone who can play a standard instrument of either kind can produce from these.

For the Mandolin, a box about 5 1/2 or 6 in. wide, 2 3/4 to 3 3/4 in deep and 9 1/2 in long will be best. 

  1. The lid, as in the violin, forms the back and is not fastened down until the remainder of the work is done.
  2. The Sound Hole, which is about at the center of the box, is 1 1/4 by 1 3/4 in. in size.
  3. Glue a piece of wood, 1/4 by 1 3/4 in. in dimensions, across the box, midway between the sound hole and the end of the box, to keep the bridge and fingerboard from pressing the top. 
  4. A block, 3/8 in. wide by 3 in. long, and the same height as the box, is glued inside at the neck end. 
  5. The neck is made as indicated in the drawing, and is attached to the box as described for the violin.

The Guitar is made from a part of a cheese box instead of a cigar box.  A box made from a single piece of wood, instead of one made up from three-ply veneer, should be selected.

  1. Cut the rim down to 3 1/4 in. in width, and attach the neck at the point where the ends meet, after fastening a 3/4 by 3 1/4-in. block on the inside. 
  2. The neck, when in place, must stand above the rim at a sufficient distance so that, when the top is applied, the neck will be flush with the top. 
  3. After the neck has been fitted, as described above, the top and bottom can be put on; these pieces may be sawed from pine, poplar or almost any kind of lumber, about 1/8 in. thick. 
  4. The sound hole is a little above the center and is 2 3/4 in. in diameter.
  5. The top is glued and nailed to the rim and is reinforced by three 1/4 by 5/8-in strips that are glued edgewise across the underside of the top to prevent it from being pressed in.
  6. It is also advisable to glue two or three such strips on the bottom before it is attached.
  7. A lug, 1 1/4 in long by 1 1/2 in. wide is left on the bottom of the cover, and fastened to the underside of the neck.

Views: 3541

Reply to This

The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation?How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Forum

Fret dot recommendation

Started by Douglas Eric Marsalis in Performances, How to Play, Lessons, Concerts. Last reply by Brendan deVallance 16 hours ago. 29 Replies

My first build

Started by Calvin Harris in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Korrigan on Tuesday. 3 Replies

Sting Issues

Started by Roland Wood in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig on Sunday. 11 Replies

Blog Posts

Do you listen to the box?

Posted by Fred Bike on January 18, 2018 at 10:42pm 0 Comments

Tinbox stickdulcimer

Posted by Kim Österberg on January 18, 2018 at 3:25pm 1 Comment

Just not quite right!?

Posted by David on January 17, 2018 at 10:02am 2 Comments

Festivals

Posted by Chuck Numbers on January 15, 2018 at 9:46pm 1 Comment

Latest Activity

Downtown Vinnie commented on Erasmo Coco's video
Thumbnail

Tricone Tube Screamer Blues - Backslider Guitars

"Maddog,You just coined my next song title..thankkkkkk you!!!"
3 hours ago
the anonymous pick commented on Uncle John's video
Thumbnail

Winter Blows

"One good thing about snow is .... without any work , your lawn still looks as good as the neighbors…"
4 hours ago
Maddog commented on Erasmo Coco's video
Thumbnail

Tricone Tube Screamer Blues - Backslider Guitars

"Ice is still going south on the river E :-)"
4 hours ago
Erasmo Coco commented on Erasmo Coco's video
Thumbnail

Tricone Tube Screamer Blues - Backslider Guitars

"Thanks Vinnie !  My motto a Drive and a Delay."
4 hours ago
Taffy Evans replied to Taffy Evans's discussion Shop/homemade tools and & Jigs
"Yes they do that what I use. Taff"
4 hours ago
Taffy Evans posted a discussion

My next CBG build

Hi, I pulled this box out of a bunch of cigar boxes my wife and daughter bought me, as it shows…See More
4 hours ago
Richard Sundberg commented on Richard Sundberg's video
Thumbnail

Two Guys With Heads Return With Sweatshirts Playing Their “G” String

"Enough to make you want to scream...I tell ya! I filmed horsetails and didn’t know it Vinnie!…"
4 hours ago
Paul Slocum commented on Richard Dean's photo
Thumbnail

Arturo Fuente 3 string

"Awesome,awesome, awesome. really like all  the detail."
5 hours ago
Paul Slocum liked Richard Dean's photo
5 hours ago
Paul Slocum liked Richard Dean's photo
5 hours ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Erasmo Coco's video
Thumbnail

Tricone Tube Screamer Blues - Backslider Guitars

"Tasty like cake.Love that setup.Smokin playin as usual."
5 hours ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Uncle John's video
Thumbnail

Winter Blows

"Now what was the message here.I'm sorry I must've missed it.Prob that rainy 50…"
5 hours ago

Music

Loading…

© 2018   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service