cigar box guitars

Everyone should make a cigar box guitar, or similar, and then learn to play it. Below are a couple of pages of sketches to guide you through how to make a cbg of your own. You just need a few basic tools, the sort every household should have and a lot of imagination. The imagination is to work out how to make the instrument without the skills and know how of a professional luthier. At the end of the day if it sounds good it is good.

Ideally you need a cigar box but they are now hard to get hold of, surprise surprise. If you know someone going out to Cuba ask them to bring you one back, minus the cigars. So any wooden box with slimmish sides (about 8mm) and thin top and bottom (ideally 3mm). Use your imagination! The box sizes need to be about 250mm by 200mm by about 50mm deep. As the sketch shows, cut the box in half so that you have a top and bottom, put hinges on it and some sort of catch or catches. Given up yet? Determination and imagination please.

Enough said really. Follow the sketches. Key things to remember – the scale length is 622.3mm. The fret positions are as follows (distance in mm from nut) starting with fret position 1 and so on, 35, 68, 99, 128, 156, 182, 207, 230, 252, 273, 293, 311, 329, 345, 361, 375, 389, 402, 415. You must have a gap between the box top (the sound board) and the neck in side the box. The neck needs to be a good straight piece of wood. Use steel strings numbers 3, 4 and 5 from a standard acoustic guitar. It’s all about imagination and enterprise, sourcing materials and inventing ways of doing things.

sketch A

scan of cbg drg 10001

If you want to amplify the sound, and I suggest you do, here is a basic wiring diagram. To ‘pick up’ the vibrations from the sound board you can either use a disk piezo or a rod piezo taped to the underside of the sound board (or whatever you think works best)’

wiring diagram

Then learn to play it.

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