Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making a Cigar Box Guitar – Part 3

OK, let’s finish off our Cigar Box Guitar.

If you haven’t already read parts one and two, they can be found here: and here:

I want to add some fret markers to the neck, but before that I want to fill in a few holes, as can be seen here:
I glue in some toothpicks:
Cut them and sand them down:
It’s not a perfect colour match, but I think it gives it some personality.

Now for marking the frets, I use an online calculator to determine the positions and mark them out with a pencil. There are many sites that provide fret calculators, but I used the one here and it worked great:

I should add here that since this will be a slide guitar only, we won't need any proper frets, just markers.
Then I use a soldering iron to burn in the lines and the dots:
We pretty much have a complete Cigar Box Guitar at this stage, but I’d like to add some sort of pickup, so I grab a spare piezo buzzer I have lying around from repairing one of my kids’ toys a while ago. I also have plenty of pots and jacks, etc., lying around from doing stomp boxes. Here are the main ingredients:
First, let’s cut a section out of one of the reinforcement blocks to make room for the jack:
And drill a hole for it to pass through:
Then figure out where to put the pot. At first I wanted to put it close to the back end of the guitar top, but this wouldn’t work, as it would be banging into the jack when we try to close the box, so instead it’s moved forwards a bit.

Original position:
Moved forwards:
Hole drilled:
Now we fit the pot and scrape the back of it so that it’s easy to melt a blob of solder onto the back of it.

Blob of solder melted onto it:
Piezo and jack connected up:
Piezos are very sensitive, acoustically speaking, so we need to add some padding around ours so that it doesn’t pick up too much unwanted noise. To achieve this, two pieces of very thin wood are cut out and smothered with white glue and the piezo is sandwiched in-between them, making sure there's room for the wires and the solder blobs.

Making little grooves for the wires/solder:
Adding the glue:
Making the sandwich. Mmmm… sandwich.
Note that the wood I used above was FAR TOO THICK and I had to go back and repeat this step with a much, much thinner solution.

All right, finally (for the electronics), the pickup sandwich is glued into place. Make sure you glue it somewhere that is not going to interfere with closing the box (e.g. don’t glue it in the middle only to find that you haven’t accounted for the neck).
We’re now ready to put this whole thing together, so we glue the wooden reinforcements that we made in the last post into the box:
And then the neck itself is glued in:
Finally we add some screws to each corner of the box. This will seal it closed, but still allow us to open later should the need arise:

Making pilot holes for the screws:
Adding the screws:
Add some strings:
And here’s the finished product:


Gustavo Comanduci said...

Great Job! Looking forward do listen the results on a video!

Lexicon Devil said...

so THAT's how you make them.pretty damn cool.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know how to play... and I'm thinking about building one! Nice job.

Maria C said...

Thanks great bllog post

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