The Piccolo Cigar Box Guitar - Get Mandolin & Uke Tones with 1/2 Scale Concept

I like to build instruments that will cover the full sonic spectrum.  If I'm looking for something that will cover the upper end, a simple PICCOLO cigar box guitar is the perfect solution.

  1. A piccolo cigar box guitar only has a 12.5" scale
  2. It is tuned to Open F (FCf)
  3. It's just as easy to build as a regular cigar box guitar.

Demo video:


  • Follow our instructions for making a classic 3-string cigar box guitar
  • Instead of using a 3 foot length of poplar for the neck, only use approx. 20" section. 
  • Allow for a 12.5" scale length.  You'll need 4" for headstock and 3-4" for the neck section that falls behind the bridge.

  • If you plan on adding frets or fret markers, here are the measurements:

  • Finish the guitar as shown in the original plans.

Just remember, the simplicity of the cigar box guitar design allows for all kinds of experimentation.  Try different scales, string gauges and # of strings.  Use this concept to make baritones and even bass cigar box guitars.  The only limitation is your imagination!

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Sounds surprisingly good.

Nice Cramps T-shirt there.

Wonder if Poison Ivy ever played a CBG

Does it have nylon or metal strings?  Also, could it be done as a four string?

Looks like guitar strings (metal). Mandolins have about the same scale length and they have eight strings, so four should be easy. Just make sure you've got a good hardwood neck.

Would the shorter neck minimise the risk of neck warping and allow the use of softer woods? I've got loads of pine and looking for something to do with it.

it all depends on how tight you tune 'em.  Even with a short neck, this would warp with high strung strings.  I kept it at a doable Open F

Great blend of the uke and 3 string cbg.  What gage strings were used in the video?

like the little instrument. re the fret measurements, could someone assist with metric conversions, or translate the imperial measurements, or any other advice please. I am tricked by the measurements in inches that don't have fractions of an inch but what looks to be decimal points. Hmmm, ta in advance. P

Hey there Peter. You could use to translate the measurements to the format you need. Literally just enter each measurement as it's written and you'll get the millimeters. Hope you get done what you need buddy. Bear

12.5 in = 31.75 cm. (google does convesions)

use any of the on-line fret calculators, or calculate your own using the 12th root of 2 as the ratio, for convenience you could round up to a 32 cm scale, no one would take a way your birthday for that...

It sounds real good.  Could be built fast and dirty.  Might have to try it.   Please let us know what strings are on it and the tuning used in the video.

Are you using ADG strings?


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