Welcome to Cigar Box Nation! A letter from C. B. Gitty...

If this is your first time visiting Cigar Box Nation, you may be a little overwhelmed by the great amount of information in here.  Let me give you the nickel tour...

Building a Cigar Box Guitar

We have a variety of cigar box instrument plans that are free for you to download.  Some are new and others are more than 100 years old.  If you're new to woodworking or are looking to start with something simple, I suggest the following:

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. 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.

If you want something more challenging, then dive head-first into our vast selection of instrument plans!

You will probably have some questions along the way.  That's what makes Cigar Box Nation so great!  We have forums, discussions and even a live chat room on the front page just waiting for your questions. 

How to Play a Cigar Box Guitar

We have lessons in Video, TAB and other formats for every level of player.  You can see them all here.

Where do I get the parts needed to make a cigar box guitar?

Cigar Box Nation is run by C. B. Gitty, the cigar box guitar superstore.  We have kits, parts and great building ideas just waiting for you.  Visit us at www.CBGitty.com.

Join the Community!

Now that you have the basics, I encourage you to create your own Cigar Box Nation profile and really dig in to all the conversations and photos. 

Thank you for visiting Cigar Box Nation. 

Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker 

(visit my own Cigar Box Nation profile here!)

P. S.  If you want to know more about this whole Cigar Box Guitar movement, check out the Cigar Box Guitar Manifesto.



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Comment by Lee Boekhout on May 29, 2017 at 10:29pm

I'm not sure where I should go with this, as I am new to the forum. Any direction would be appreciated. I am looking for information on tuning of a hammered dulcimer I have recently purchased online. It has 9 courses of three strings each. It has only one bridge, no base bridge. The strings were all rusted, and I am in the process of restringing the instrument. I is reportedly made my the Amish, and is of excellent quality wood workmanship. The label inside states it is made in 1971 by Sam Rizzetta in Arlington, VA. It does not show a brand. It appears to have a nice hardwood frame (possibly maple) and the sound board appears to be quarter sawn spruce. The existing strings (all rusted) measure .120. It is unknown if the strings are original. If anyone has any information on this instrument, especially what the tuning is, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you one and all. Lee Boekhout

Comment by Lee Boekhout on May 8, 2017 at 4:58pm

Thanks, Jim, for your information. I thought I'd try nylon strings. I just like the mellowness of their sound better, like a classical guitar. As soon as I get my current projects caught up, this will be on my priority to-do list. Thanks again. Lee

Comment by Jim Morris on May 8, 2017 at 1:44pm

Hi Lee, welcome to CB instrument making! I've made and played several cigar and self made box dulcimers. The scale length (nut to bridge) can be the same for any type of strings. It's a matter of making sure the fret placement is correct for the chosen scale length. I use Stewart Macdonald's fret calculator for this and measure as accurately as humanly possible. I've never made a nylon string mountain dulcimer and know am curious as to how one might sound. Here's one I made last year

Comment by Lee Boekhout on May 8, 2017 at 12:28pm

Hello again. A question comes to mind, if I may. When choosing strings, is there any difference in the nut to bridge measurement between nylon and steel strings?  Thanks for your help. Lee

Comment by Lee Boekhout on May 8, 2017 at 12:26pm

Hello to all. My name is Lee, and I am new here, so please forgive any fubars I make right off the bat. I am interested in building a cigar box mountain dulcimer (yeh, I'm one of those). I welcome any helpful comments. I play the autoharp in our park band, and am currently trying to learn the dulcimer, so I do have some basics to start. I live in the beautiful Prescott, AZ area. Hello again to all.

Comment by William Smith on April 2, 2017 at 3:29pm
Hi to all of you.
I am building my second CBG. Looking forward to learning to play better. I played drums in bands have had trouble learning Bass , Guitar.
Comment by Erasmo Coco on November 2, 2016 at 4:40pm

Why not . Try playing the four.You never Know .If not take strings off.

Comment by Fomhorach on November 2, 2016 at 4:40pm

Or. Walk up to a piano... See how many fingers you can use to play some stuff. If it's 2 or 3 go for 3 strings. If it's 1. Go for a diddly Bow.

Comment by Fomhorach on November 2, 2016 at 4:36pm

The way we tune 3 stringers is not far away from any of the ways we tune 4 stringers.
It's a good way to start out to play a 4 stringer but.. 3 stringers are a whole breed of instrument in themselves. Having a 3 string guitar does not mean you are restricted in music. What you loose in the distance between notes, you gain in both ease of play and (i know this seems contradictionary) style of playing scale runs.
3 string players (in my opinion) learn the relationship betwen notes faster than 4 string players. If you ask a 6 string player why that shape produces that chord most of them say that 'it just does' but they don't know why.
With 3 strings you begin to learn note relationships faster because there is a lot less to think about. Why is a fourth, what is a fifth..
4 strings takes you into shape playing, 3 strings let's you find out more about twin note relationships.
All this might seem like 'woah! That's deep musical theory' but really it's not, when you play a 3 string for a while. So yeah, try a 4 string with 3 strings for a while. You might actually decide not to add the 4th string as (in my opinion) it has the most scale note variance for playing.

Comment by Jayme Russo on November 2, 2016 at 4:16pm

Can I get some opinions ?? I had every intentions on buying a diddley bow when I went to buy my first cbg considering my skill level (none) and age (57), but when I got there I kinda fell in love with a 4 stringer. I was thinking I would take 3 strings off to begin with. What do you think of that idea?

Comment by Fomhorach on November 2, 2016 at 4:12pm

we build and play musical instruments. This internet forum style of chat thing had my head spinning for a good few weeks. There's also the fact that it's not very reliable and seems to do stuff that it's not meant to and refuses to do stuff that it's supposed to. 

People are tearing hair out as I speak. Well perhaps not but they have taken to whiskey to calm down. Perhaps not but if I was in their shoes I would use it as an excuse.

Comment by Fomhorach on November 2, 2016 at 4:07pm

No worries Jayme. :)

Comment by Jayme Russo on November 2, 2016 at 4:06pm

Comment by Jim Morris on October 18, 2016 at 10:49am

Welcome Chris. As someone who has lugged around Hammond B3's and Fender Rhodes pianos in the past I gotta say that a 3 string CBG is a lot easier to sit on the porch with! Lots of helpful folks here with playing and building tips if you get a notion to build one of your own.

Comment by Chris Anderson on October 18, 2016 at 10:21am

This website rocks! I'm a keyboard player bored with keys, always wished I could play guitar, just moved to Nashville and am looking forward to sitting on my front porch playing my first CBG I'm waiting for from eBay (hopefully it's built well.)

Appreciate everyone's insight, lessons, videos, sales & such.

Comment by Ian smith on October 9, 2016 at 9:43pm
gday all,

I'm very new to CGB and can not as yet play I have decided not to build but to buy and found Nigel McTrustry in Brisbane to build my CGB
Comment by the anonymous pick on October 2, 2016 at 1:56pm

welcome to  the addiction .,chance  ;-)

Comment by Chance on October 2, 2016 at 10:14am


I'm a newly joined member and just wanted to say "hey!"

This site is really great and packed full of info.  I'm very slowly learning how to play 3 string cbg and my guitar is built in the Uncle Crow style.

There are about 15 cigar boxes piled up in my garage now which need to be built, but I'm taking what little spare time I have and trying to learn to play.  Based on what I've read here, It seems building them is as addictive as playing. 

I'm sure I'll have many question about playing and building as time goes on.



Comment by joe martinez on September 25, 2016 at 9:07am

you guys are great,  I have been building cbgs for about a year now,  and recently built a mini amp with your 2.5 amp circuit board kit.  The kit came with a pot that shorted out when I installed it, and I made a phone call to get a replacement,  when I didn't hear back, I was initially a bit disappointed, but 2 days later a new amp kit showed up at my door, WHAT GREAT SERVICE!!  CUDOS TO ALL OF YOU AT CIGAR BOX NATION!!       


Comment by Fomhorach on September 13, 2016 at 5:17am

I did a little search on Swisher sweets, it seems most of the boxes were made from pressed cardboard. This could be problematic but it can still be done with good results. Try and find a decent box (even if you have to order it from ebay).

My advice would be to get a couple of other boxes and build 3, the last one being the swisher. Building the first 2 will be fun and you will make mistakes that you can learn from for the third build to be 'the one'.

Also look over this forums groups and ask around in the ukulele group for tips and advice. Read through the older posts and ask questions. You could even start a new thread.

On a personal note,I find building shorter scale length instruments like ukuleles to be easier than longer scale lengths and I would advise people new to building to head down this route first.

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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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