How to Build Cigar Box Guitars, Ukuleles & More - Free Plans!

Enjoy the free plans and how-to info below, and be sure to check out the ever-growing Cigar Box Guitar How-To Knowledgebase over at!

Cigar Box Nation's Archive of Homemade Instrument Plans

From the simple 3-string cigar box guitar instructional that started the Cigar Box Guitar Revolution to historical plans dating back to the 1800's...we've collected them all.

FREE PLANS: How to Build a 3-String Cigar Box Guitar

This new 8-page set of plans walks you through building a simple but fully playable 3-string cigar box guitar from scratch. Written by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker, these present well-illustrated, up-to-date how-to info in an easy to understand method that will enable young and old to build their first cigar box guitar with minimal effort.

MORE HELP:  Once you've downloaded these plans, join these Cigar Box Nation discussion groups for building and playing tips:

A Guide to Advanced Cigar Box Guitar Making

by Josh Gayou

A complete guide spanning 179 pages that covers the complete design and construction of a top end solid body electric cigar box guitar. This book discusses in detail such topics as wood selection and storage, design considerations, hardware selection, neck carving, finishing, electronics, final assembly, and set up. Read this if you want to take your guitar making to the next level. Totally free.

Download Link: A Guide to Advanced Cigar Box Guitar Making

2-string Cigar Box Guitar

From Guitar Player Magazine, 1976. These are the plans that inspired Shane Speal to build his first cigar box guitar, which was a formative event in the creation of the modern cigar box guitar movement.


5-String Cigar Box Banjo - Oldest known cigar box instrument plans

Build an Uncle Enos Banjo first published circa 1870 The oldest known plans for a cigar box instrument, the Uncle Enos Banjo plans were written by Boy Scouts founder Daniel Carter Beard for a childrens magazine. The finished product is a very playable 5-string banjo.

Cigar Box Violin

Build a Cigar Box Violin first published 1949.

Build a playable 4-string violin.

Also includes plans to make your own fiddle bow, too.


Get more help, tips and join the discussion at Cigar Box Nation's group, Cigar Box Fiddles

1920's Cigar Box Ukulele

Vintage cigar box uke plans - fully detailed. Ukulele geeks and cigar box freaks unite!!! It's time to get your strum on.

Plans are a high res .jpg scan.

Once you have downloaded these plans, join the uke discussion in our Cigar Box Ukulele Group

1910 Cigar Box Ukulele

From the article: "The one-string banjo, cigar box guitar and similar Vaudeville favorites are giving way to the tantalizing ukulele..." Oh yeah, baby! (Plans download in .jpg file)

Once you have downloaded these plans, join the uke discussion in our Cigar box Ukulele Group

1923 plans for Cigar Box Fiddle, Uke and more

Popular Mechanics, September 1923 (pdf file)

Get additional tips, secrets and more in the following Cigar Box Nation Groups:

Smokin' Mandolins

Dulciworld (cigar box dulcimers)

Cigar Box Ukuleles

Cigar Box Fiddles

Cigar Box Tube Amplifier

Way cool vintage plans from a 1954 issue of Science & Mechanics Magazine. Plans are in a 2 page .pdf Please note: the pages are mistakenly reversed in the .pdf

Get more cigar box amp tips, designs and ideas at the Cigar Box Nation group It Goes To Eleven (Cigar Box Amps)

Strange Cigar Box and Pitchfork Fiddle

Discovered in an old 1936 patent. The instrument uses a cigar box like a slide on a fiddle made from a pitchfork.


This picture features proof that someone actually made and performed with this style instrument. Anyone wanna attempt this?


Get more tips, ideas and join in the fiddle discussion at the Cigar Box Nation group,Cigar Box Fiddles

Vaudeville Fiddle

Build a Cigar Box Violin first published 1949 Create a 1-string cigar box "cello" violin, similar to instruments used by the great Yiddish vaudeville performers of the turn-of-the-century. W. C. Fields appeared in a movie playing this instrument.

Get more tips, ideas and join in the fiddle discussion at the Cigar Box Nation group, Cigar Box Fiddles

1920 Cigar Box "Jazzolin" Plans

Shane has just discovered a lost set of plans for a one-string "Cigar Box Jazzolin," originally published in Popular Mechanics in 1920. With help from Cigar Box Guitar Museum curator, Bill Jehle, we have these plans available for you to download right now:

We encourage you to build your own "Cigar Box Jazzolin" and post pictures. Learn to play it and post videos, too! Let's bring back the great tradition of Yiddish vaudeville fiddle playing!

Vroom, Frank W. "How to Make a Jazzolin from a Broomstick." Popular Science July 1920: 110-11.

Once you've downloaded the plans, join our Diddley Bow (1-string instrument) Group and ourCigar Box Fiddles Group.

Dr. Oakroot's Diddley Bow

Dr Oakroot's plans for a great Cigar Box Diddley Bow The diddley bow is a traditional one string instrument fundamental to the early blues. You can easily make a diddley bow using a cardboard cigar box, a guitar tuner, and a few other things.

Get more help, tips and secrets at our Diddley Bow Group

Vintage Lap Steep Plans

How to build this ultra-hip LAP STEEL GUITAR! (pdf document)

Once you download the plans, join these groups to discuss building secrets for this instrument!

VINTAGE LAP STEEL PLANS GROUP. (dedicated to these vintage plans)

Lap Steel World (a great group discussing all aspects of lap steel construction)


Vintage Rebek Fiddle Plans

Build this cool world-music Rebek Fiddle and crank out some one-string goodness. (pdf. document)

Need more help? Cigar Box Nation has discussion groups for Cigar Box Fiddles and Diddley Bows (One Stringed Instruments)

Fun With a 2x4 Bass

Cool plans found in a 1960's Popular Science magazine. Build your own solidbody electric bass from a standard 2x4!!!

Get your thump on and join the discussion group Cigar Box Basses


1-String Cigar Box Bass

Funky and primitive cigar box bass that uses a lever tuning/playing system. From an old children's book. Download is a 2 page Word document.

More help at Cigar Box Nation's group Cigar Box Basses

Funky Homemade Bass Guitar

Not a cigar box instrument, but cool nonetheless. Check out these plans, originally posted in the old Cigar Box Guitar Yahoo!Group. (Thanks to Jim "Gutbucketeer" Bunch for compiling and archiving the information.) Download is a Word document.

Bass tips and inspiration at Cigar Box Nation's discussion group, Cigar Box Basses


Build a Rawhide Violin


Simple plans from 1977 for a banjo-like violin.  These plans create an instrument reminiscent of an African Guimbri. Builders might want to try the violin first and then make their own version of a guimbri, banjo or other instru


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