How to Build a 3-String Cigar Box Guitar

www.CigarBoxNation.com presents:
How To Build A Cigar Box Guitar

The classic 3-string, neck-through design.


By Ivan Sucharski   -   Based on original plans by Shane Speal

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!

Materials Needed:

Parts you will need:

Tools you will need:

  • Drill with multiple sized bits
  • Hacksaw
  • Pocketknife
  • ½” wide Woodworking file or reasonable substitute
  • (optional) Scroll Saw,
  • various sanding devices

NOTE: Cigar box guitar kits, parts and accessories available at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply (www.cbgitty.com).

Instructions:

1. Basic Shape of the Neck at the Bottom.

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:

  • Take the neck of the guitar and line it up with the box lid so that the bottom of the neck (where the strings will be coming up from) is an inch or so from where the box lid ends.
  • Make a mark on the neck there and where it protrudes from the other end of the lid. These marks designate where the lid groove needs to be carved so that you can get the neck to line up perfectly with the body.
  • Cut out the area between the marks, as deep as your lid is thick. I used my wood file to do this. It was slightly tedious, but gave me great depth control.
  • After reaching proper depth, I used sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots so the neck would rest evenly on the body.

2. Preparing the Body for the Neck.

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.

  • Take the cigar box and measure halfway across each of the left and right side.
  • From that point measure ¾” towards and away from the lid. Even though the wood for the neck is called a 1X2 it’s really a ¾ X 1½.
  • At each of the endpoints you just drew, draw a line ¾” towards the bottom of the box, then connect those two lines. This will guide you for cutting out the notches for the neck to fit into. Be sure to cut just inside your marks and not quite as deep as you think you should.
  • Try to fit the 1X2 in the notch, and when it doesn’t quite fit use the file and sandpaper to widen and deepen the notches.

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.

The top of the neck will be comprised of a headstock and a bridge. This next part discusses how to prepare those parts.

  • Remove the neck from the body of the guitar.
  • Make a mark around 4 inches from the top of the neck. This will be where the headstock ends and the fretboard begins.
  • Before you shape the headstock, I suggest you drill the 3 holes for the tuning pegs. This is because you need to be sure you don’t cut the headstock too thin (the tuning pegs won’t screw in snugly). Here's a great video tutorial on cutting tuner holes and installing:

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.

  • Drill 3 very small equidistant holes at the bottom of the neck, approximately ½” from the bottom, this is where you will thread the strings.
  • On the top of the neck, ½” below where the headstock begins, use the wood file to cut a small round groove across the neck. This is where the bolt you use for the nut will sit. The groove should be deep enough that 2/3 of the bolt is above the plane of the neck and 1/3 is below.

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.

Comment

You need to be a member of Cigar Box Nation to add comments!

Join Cigar Box Nation

Comment by Walter Hynson on April 24, 2016 at 9:33pm

Been retired over a year now ,back to building my CBG I started 2 years ago,now please show some lessons for an absolute beginner who wants to learn to play blues in the likes of Robert Johnson,Willie Dixon,John Lee Hooker Please ,Thanks

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

Bass Pickups for a CBG?

Started by Fred Bike in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by the anonymous pick 19 minutes ago. 4 Replies

Fret dot recommendation

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

pricing

Started by Mike in Other stuff - off topic, fun stuff, whatever. Last reply by Jerry Jordan on Wednesday. 23 Replies

My first build

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

Blog Posts

The most imitated guitar…

Posted by Tim Snyder on January 19, 2018 at 2:25pm 1 Comment

Cigar box art.

Posted by PEGGY TRAMBLE on January 19, 2018 at 12:55pm 1 Comment

Do you listen to the box?

Posted by Fred Bike on January 18, 2018 at 10:42pm 7 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

Latest Activity

Richard Sundberg commented on Downtown Vinnie's video
Thumbnail

Night On The Town. Downtown Vinnie - A. D. Eker Collab -Vid and special effects by Doctor Richard

"On behave of the Academy , I’d like to thank you Vinnie and A D for including me, it’s…"
14 minutes ago
the anonymous pick replied to Fred Bike's discussion Bass Pickups for a CBG?
"IT will work  .  The mag feild radiates outward,  so the strings do not have to…"
19 minutes ago
Dave Richardson posted a photo
25 minutes ago
Korrigan replied to Fred Bike's discussion Bass Pickups for a CBG?
"No, they don't need to be centered. The volume and tone may be slightly different if not…"
26 minutes ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Downtown Vinnie's video
Thumbnail

Night On The Town. Downtown Vinnie - A. D. Eker Collab -Vid and special effects by Doctor Richard

"I must say by the way,Richard.If there was an academy award for Vids on CBN ,this vid would have…"
1 hour ago
Uncle John commented on Uncle John's video
Thumbnail

Multi-pupose power tool for CBG builders

"Thanks, guys.  I think the testimonials from Fred and Korrigan are excellent endorsements for…"
1 hour ago
Downtown Vinnie commented on Downtown Vinnie's video
Thumbnail

Night On The Town. Downtown Vinnie - A. D. Eker Collab -Vid and special effects by Doctor Richard

"Thanks....D and D,Just some small interstellar border laws,Erasmo.But what they don't…"
1 hour ago
Fred Bike replied to Fred Bike's discussion Bass Pickups for a CBG?
"So the string has to be centered over each pole?"
1 hour ago
Korrigan commented on Uncle John's video
Thumbnail

Multi-pupose power tool for CBG builders

"This is the only power saw I own and it works well. Sure I'd like to have various saws (and a…"
1 hour ago
Korrigan replied to Fred Bike's discussion Bass Pickups for a CBG?
"Sting spacing might be a little wide if you are doing a 4-string with each string centered over a…"
1 hour ago
Paul Slocum liked sparky37's photo
2 hours ago
Paul Slocum liked Ted Smith's photo
2 hours ago

Music

Loading…

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

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service