Today we're going to have a step-by-step cigar box guitar building class!  The total time to build is about one hour, not including the introduction video, or video 8, where we're just playing the guitar.

Build a three string, slide cigar box guitar with the following items:


  • wooden cigar box - $3
  • 1x2  - $1
  • three eye bolts, 3/16" x 3" , 24 thread - $1.50
  • six #8 washers - $.98
  • three wing nuts, 3/16", 24 thread - $.98
  • three 6/32 machine screws with matching nuts - $.98
  • machine bolt, 1/4" x 2" long - $.98
  • guitar strings, one pack - $5
  • three wood screws - 1 1/2" long - $.98

These items are really much cheaper than i list here. most of them are bought in bulk, so for just a little more money you could build a LOT of guitars. The prices listed above are the average hardware store price, if you were to buy the item in small numbers in individual bags from the pegs in the fasteners section.


  • drill
  • 1/2" paddle bit for three sound holes (you could use 1/4 bit with six holes)
  • regular smaller drill bits
  • phillips bit
  • hand saw (box saw is best)
  • sand paper

Additional items

  • guitar picks can be bought at most box stores
  • slides can be bought at home depot. go to the cabinet section, and ask for a 2" long 3/4" steel spacer. they cost $1.50, and are the best slides i've ever used!!








Fret Markings:  THANKS TO DAZEDLEMONPIE, the following fret measurements have been transcribed for us, and i've copied and pasted them here.

"i just written down all the fret measurement from part 5 of the video, I thought I would share it with those interested in building one.

The following are based on scale length of 59cm

59cm multiply .9439 (or any other scale length) equals your first fret location.  It should be marked as follows: 

  1. 55.6cm   
  2. 52.5cm   
  3. 49.6cm   0
  4. 46.8cm  
  5. 44.2cm  0
  6. 41.7cm  
  7. 39.3cm   0
  8. 37.1cm  
  9. 35cm     
  10. 33.1cm 0 (G chord)
  11. 31.2cm
  12. 29.5cm 00
  13. 27.8cm
  14. 26.2cm
  15. 24.8cm
  16. 23.4cm
  17. 22.1cm
  18. 20.8cm
  19. 19.6cm"




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hey guys! seems ive missed quite a bit on this site in the last few years, ive got some catching up to do with all of you! :)

glad you are back!!!

You've been missed...

Awesome and perfect timing. I have always wanted to learn to play an instrument, and have tried some in the past but don't have 'it' I guess. Six strings, big uncoordinated fingers... nah, but I ran into CBGs online and thought, "Well maybe." Then I saw your design and thought, "I'll try that!" At least if I can't learn to play it, I'll be making some pretty kick arse art!

Read this thread and watched your videos. Great stuff. Haven't even made the first one and I am already thinking of what I want to do after the first 'stock' Crow CBG I make. Which has lead to a question, the first of many I anticipate. I gather the 'action' is a reference of the distance of the strings from the fret board. I also understand that this 'action' is usually 3/16 - 1/4" for a normal fretted action. So question, what is a good slide height and if I eventually want to do a fret board won't the string have to be higher off the fret board at the bridge end than at the nock end? Seems if it was parallel the string would contact frets further down the neck toward the bridge when playing a note/chord.

Thanks in advance, and sorry if I messed up any lingo.

The Bane

  Most of my fretted builds start at roughly 3/8 at the nut and 1/4 at the bridge, just like Uncle Crow's builds-and they clear the frets just fine as long as i've dressed them properly (all frets the same height). If I feel like it i'll take a file and lower the action an extra 1mm at both nut and fret and usually there isn't a buzz at that point either-and if there is I use a 1mm Birch veneer to shim it right back up.

  So yes, the string is a tiny bit higher at the bridge than the nut...and the Uncle Crow build already takes it into account with the two differing bolt sizes, so you should be fine. More advanced builds with bone, oak or other materials should have a similar height ratio (unless you go with a sharp neck lean like a mandolin or such, then your bridge gets much taller).

 Hope I haven't confused you-i'm barely on my first thirty builds myself and learning as I go...BTW, i've seen examples of adjustable nuts and bridges on this site, i'll try to find some links...

 Well, too late to EDIT but here are some Links:




   ,,,any of these designs should let you play with the height until you know exactly what you desire in playing a fretted build!  :)


Thanks for the responses! I really thought that was the case, but wanted to make sure since I didn't see a second larger bolt in the parts list at the beginning of this thread. The "machine bolt, 1/4" x 2" long" being the only one I would imagine large enough to be the 'nut' (called it a knock before ~ oops) and the bridge.

The links were awesome and helped a lot. Really like the simplicity of the first one with the notched machine screws! All the ingenuity with these things is amazing, but the shear quantity of information here and elsewhere can be daunting when you need a specific answer.

Thanks again,

The Bane

  Glad to be of service!

 For what it's worth, my first build was an Uncle Crow style, fretless, with the only difference being actual guitar tuners on the build and marking my neck with a wood burning pen rather than pencil-and I used the recommended 3/8" bolt and the 1/4"  bolt, Worked okay for strum and slide.

 My second build had frets, a strum hollow, scallops under the stick to minimize contact with the box and a small 1/4"  strip to replace the stick, with tinier 1/2" screws followed by glue for permanent attatchment-with this version I went as low as a 3/16" bolt for the nut and 3/8" for the bridge...and still cleared the frets enough to play...wouldn't recommend a slide on that one though!  :D

  Can't wait to see more of your builds....MY next one is a Gourd Uke that (at this point in the build at least) seems to be an unholy blend of the Uncle Crow style and the recent Rocky Mountain Dulcimer (see the Downloads section for the latter). Lord only knows what i'll end up with, but at least i'm having fun with the experiment...


Would love to see pictures. I seem to spend hours just doing image searches for these things. I think, after talking to my daughter about CBGs, is what appeals to me more than anything is the art of them, and that in turn - that art makes more art. Even if I never learn to play I think I will enjoy just building them.

A "strum hollow"? Is that what I see on Canjos sometimes? Oh, and you mention a "recommended 3/8 and 1/4 bolt for nut (I called it a knock earlier LOL) and bridge... I only see the 1/4 x 2 listed in the materials list in the OP. Thanks for adding that. I was thinking it might have been two 1/4 bolts, hence the question of strings parallel to the neck/fret board.

Again, would love to see pics!


The Bane

  Sadly, those builds came and went before I finally got my digital camera, alas... :(  I think I finally started documenting my builds about the 25th or so.

  You're right on the listing of 2 1/4" bolts though-it's been so long since I saw the original article it slipped my mind!  Zero vertical between nut and bridge works great on a fretless though as long as the stick is straight enough.

hey guys! thanks to everyone for sticking around so long! here is a new video just recorded a few minutes ago, i hope it keeps everyone inspired!!! love you all!! -crow


Difficult song Crow. But you nailed it. Your initial one hour build video got me kick started on this wonderful cbg journey. Cheers. Jonno


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