Five years ago, MAKE featured an
electric Cigar Box Guitar project
(Volume 04, page 76). The project’s
author, Ed Vogel, designed a simple
instrument using only parts you’d find
at a hardware store. I made one myself,
and had a wonderful time playing it.
Last year, I decided I’d like to make a more traditional cigar box
guitar. I soon found Cigar Box Nation ( cigarboxnation.com),
a fantastic online hangout for homemade stringed instrument
enthusiasts. The photos, videos, and MP3s posted by these
happy strummers and pluckers were inspiring, and the variety
of guitars in the photo galleries was astounding.
I joined the group and was warmly welcomed by its members, who kindly answered my newbie questions about frets,
choices of wood, and other aspects of guitar building. In a
matter of days, I had built my first cigar box guitar (or CBG for
short). I’ve now built more than a half dozen CBGs, and I guess
you can say I’m hooked.
Photography by Mark Frauenfelder
Because every CBG is built by hand, using different found
and scrounged materials, no two sound alike. I love the
suspense of not knowing what kind of “personality” a CBG
is going to have until it’s completed. Here’s how to make
a plain-vanilla, 3-string CBG that requires a minimum of tools
and parts, yet sounds great.
Set up: p. 79 Make it: p. 80 Use it: p. 85
Mark Frauenfelder ( email@example.com) is editor-in-chief of MAKE.