Free Plans Archive: How to Build Cigar Box Guitars, Ukuleles & More

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 Free 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.  These plans are listed in no order.  Scroll down and discover something new today.  Keep checking back for new plans.

How to Build a 3-String Cigar Box Guitar - EASY plans

Eight-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 to build your first cigar box guitar with minimal effort. >> Read more...

3-String Cigar Box Guitar - MODERATE pro plans

The cigar box guitar plans that started the modern movement.  Originally created by Cigar Box Nation founder, Shane Speal, these plans were then adapted and improved by Ivan Sucharski. 

>> Read More

Guide to Advanced Cigar Box Guitar Making

179 pg guide covering the complete design and construction of a top end solid body electric cigar box guitar. Wood selection and storage, design considerations, hardware selection, neck carving, finishing, electronics, final assembly, and set up. >>Read more...

Make a 2x4 Lap Steel Guitar - EASY project

This is one of the easiest homemade guitars I've ever built, and it took me only an hour to make.    >> Read More

Make an Electric Kazoo!

Give your kazoo more power!  Shane Speal shows you how in this quick video.

>>

1884 "Uncle Enos" Cigar Box Banjo Plans

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.

>>

Build Your Own Cigar Box Ukulele with this Complete Kit - $79.99

A complete, ready-to-assemble cigar box ukulele kit designed in the C. B. Gitty workshops to allow just about anyone to build a fun, easy-to-play concert-scale instrument. 

>> Read more (sponsored link)...

How to Build an Electric Guitar - the Historic 1959 Plans

In our quest to discover and compile all the great DIY musical instrument plans of the last 150 years, we stumbled across these great electric guitar plans from 1959.

>>

Build Your Own Cigar Box Violin - 1940

"Anyone who loves music and is handy with tools can make a cigar box violin that is capable of producing really good tones. The violin may be designed for either two strings or four, depending on the maker's ability as a craftsman and aspirations as a player."  >> Read More

Make a One-String Cigar Box "Vaudeville" Fiddle - 1949

The one-string fiddle was a staple of the Vaudeville circuit in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  In fact, Larry Fine of the Three Stooges was a master of the Vaudeville fiddle!  >> Read more...

Build a 5-String Cigar Box Mandolin - 1922

A  solid 5-string mandolin made from a wooden cigar box. From the lost files of cigar box guitar history, we present these plans which were rediscovered by John "Reddog" McNair of Reddog Guitars.  >> Read More

How to Make a Cigar Box Ukulele - 1920's

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.  >>

Homemade Hawaiian Ukulele - 1917

This article on how to build a cigar box ukulele comes from the June, 1917 edition of Popular Mechanics. In it S. H. Samuels walks the reader through the basics of constructing a uke, which in 1917 “was made at a cost of 30 cents, by careful selection of materials from the shop scrap stock.”  >> Read more...

Build a 2-String Cigar Box Guitar - 1976

You may be thinking that plans published in a guitar mag in 1976 aren’t quite old enough to qualify as “historic”.  These plans are special though, because these are the ones that Shane Speal used to build his first cigar box guitar… and from that first cigar box guitar, he went on to jump-start the entire modern cigar box guitar revival.  >> Read more...

Musical Instruments From Cigar Boxes - 1923

Cigar box mandolin, violin and cheese box guitar!  These plans have been archived here and re-typed out in an easy-to-read format.  Straight out of a 1923 edition of Popular Mechanics.  

>> Read More

Banjo Making, Appalachian Style - by Chickenbone John

Figuring out how these things fit together was a right old game, but I've managed to do it. It's got a few neat bits...double action trussrod, and a method of adjusting the tension on the head...but the internal pot is a simple 6" cake tin, and the skin is a drum head, as they... >> Read more...

How to Make a Gourd Banjo

The gourd banjo dates back to Africa and was one of the first instruments brought to America by slaves.  The construction has a lot in common with neck-through cigar box guitars (which, of course, were also derived from the African gourd banjo).  >> Read More

Free Plans for a 3-String Balalaika

These free plans are for a 3-string, triangle-body Russian instrument known as the Balalaika. They were written by James H. Flynn, Jr. in the early 80’s and some time ago he made them freely available.

>>

Build a Ray Jacobs Rocky Mountain Dulcimer

Great cardboard-topped 3-string dulcimer plans!  Includes a demo video, too.

>>

The Pitchfork Fiddle!

Here’s something a bit different – a patent that was granted by the U. S. Patent Office in 1936, to one Grant C. Haium of Wisconsin, for a musical instrument formed (according to the drawing) from a pitchfork, tightened string, resonator drum and an interesting slide/resonator box. >> Read more...

Cigar Box Jazzolin

Here is a short article from the July, 1920 edition of Popular Science Monthly, in which author Frank W. Vroom gives fairly brief instructions for constructing what he calls a “Jazzolin” using a cigar box. This is basically another take on the classic one-string cigar box fiddle.  >> Read More

Vintage Plans for Building a Complete Lap Steel Guitar

A comprehensive set of plans to make a classic lap steel guitar.  Includes pickup construction, too.

>>

Build a Rebak Fiddle

The rebak is the ancestor to the violin and was brought to Europe by the Persians.  We've got some vintage plans for building your own.

>> Read More

Fun with a 2x4 Bass

God bless the writers of science magazines back in the 1960's.  Everyone wanted to be a rock star, so they found innovative ways to make the instruments!

We have archived these vintage 2x4 bass plans in a downloadable PDF file for you to print out and attempt.  >> Read more...

Build a One String Box Bass - circa 1976

In our never ending search for cigar box guitar plans, we stumbled across these very simple instructions to build a one-string bass with a "whamola" style lever as the tuner.  The plans come from a 1970's children's book.  >> Read more...

Homemade Fretless Bass Schematic

These plans are archived as a downloadable PDF file, perfect for printing.  In them, author "Bill" shows his schematic for making a primitive homemade bass guitar

>> Read More

Make a Rawhide Violin & Bow

Make a playable rawhide violin.  Also gives instructions for making a homemade violin bow.  From a how-to book circa 1970's.

>>

Building Cigar Box Dulcimers

If you are looking to expand your cigar box instrument-building repertoire beyond the basic 3 and 4-string cigar box guitars, then consider taking a look at a classic instrument of American folk and roots music: the mountain dulcimer. >> Read More

VIDEO TUTORIAL - Build an Uncle Crow Cigar Box Guitar in One Hour!

Uncle Crow shows how to make a simple, yet great sounding cigar box guitar in less than an hour.  He includes step-by-step video instructions.  >>Read more...

Build a Les Claypool "Whamola" Bass

Les Claypool's one-string Whamola is the mutated and high voltage bastard-son of the washtub bass.  Using a lever tuning/playing system, the instrument delivers globular, freak-out sounds.    Just watch this video to get an idea...  >>Read more...

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

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