How To Build A Cigar Box Guitar
The classic 3-string, neck-through design.
Follow these simple steps towards building your own cigar-box guitar! Remember, the number one rule of building a cigar box guitar is: “There are no rules!” Just have fun with it, but be careful… Once you’ve built one, you’ll want to build another. It’s addictive!
Parts you will need:
Tools you will need:
NOTE: Cigar box guitar kits, parts and accessories available at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply (www.cbgitty.com).
The neck and the body of the guitar should fit together very snugly. Also, you want the neck to come up flush with the body, so you need to cut a notch exactly as long and deep as the lid. Here’s how to do it:
The body of the guitar needs to have notches so the neck fits snugly, and also needs sound holes drilled in it so you can hear the twangy goodness you create. This next step preps your body.
The idea is to have the tightest fit possible. Remember, you want the lid to close easily over the neck of your guitar with no bowing of the lid (notch not deep enough) and no space between the neck and the lid (notch too deep).
Soundholes: Once you have the notches cut to perfection, you are ready to drill out the sound holes in your guitar body. Any number of techniques can be used including the use of a scroll saw. I personally don’t own such things, so I just drill holes in the lid. Don’t make holes where the neck goes, since the neck will end up covering them.
One caution: be careful not to crack the lid of your cigar box while drilling madly.
3. Working on the Neck.
Next, the shaping of the headstock is in order.
I like to use the wood file because I can file away little bits of the headstock at a time without going overboard. I use it and the pocketknife to shape the headstock into the shape I want. After that, you can round out the back of the neck for a more comfortable playing experience. Just don’t mess with the neck portion that goes inside of the body of the guitar since nobody will see that part and since you want to retain a snug fit between the neck and body.
4. The Bridge and String Holes.
The last manipulation of the neck piece is the drilling of the sting holes at the bottom of the neck and the creation of the nut groove.
5. Staining and Prettying Up the Neck. Remove all hardware from the neck. Sand it down nice and pretty and get off all the rough spots, nicks etc. OPTIONAL: You can also stain and/or seal it.
6. Attaching the Neck to the Body.
Use the wood glue to affix the neck of the guitar to the lid. After it has dried, you might want to use a few finishing nails as well. Be careful that you don’t crack the lid when doing this. Use the finishing nails to close up the lid. I like to drill pilot holes so that everything goes in straight and easy. (Note: If you want to wire this baby for sound, see the note at the end of these instructions. Don’t do this step yet!!)
7. String Her Up!
Using acoustic guitar strings is recommended by Shane Speal, the King of the Cigar Box Guitar, and I’m not one to argue with the king. A great and easy
way to get your guitar tuned up to the popular GDG tuning is to use the G Modal Blues set of strings from C. B. Gitty. Place the bridge bolt in place, as well as the eye bolt at the bottom of the guitar and tune it up.
Bonus: Making the Guitar Electric with a simple piezo pickup
Note for those interested in making the guitar electric I have found one of the cheapest ways to do this and still get a reasonable sound. You can wire your cigar box guitar very cheaply and easily using a C. B. Gitty pre-wired piezo pickup harness.