Ever since I got a rotary tool this past christmas I have been looking online for a project that appeals to my taste but wouldn’t break the bank when I started to buy supplies. After deciding to build my own cigar box guitar (cbg), I then had the task of deciding what I wanted it to look like. There are literally thousands of different ideas flying through my mind. Which leads me to believe that this won’t be the last one I build. I am currently still in the development phase of the project so all the pictures in this blog are of other people’s work. I am simply using them as examples of what I want to achieve.
From what I have seen so far, most cbg’s have three strings and use parts that weren’t originally planned for use on a guitar. Anything from door hinges to crumb cups which are supposed to keep your kitchen sink from getting clogged with food. The improvised parts can make or break the look of the cbg. If done right it looks like a very cool mish-mash of parts. If done wrong it looks like a shoebox that a robot pooped on. The other type of cbg’s I’ve seen are basically a factory quality electric guitar which just happens to be made with the use of a cigar box. These ones have six strings, use professional grade bridges, pickups, and necks. Not the kind of project I would have the skill, time, or money to pull off.
Below are two photos. One of the most simple cbg, the other of a masterpiece of craftsmanship.
Since my musical talents are weak at best, I’m going in with very little info on the inner workings of a guitar and how to build one. But I doubt most guitar players have ever built one themselves. That gives me a bit of confidence. All I know at this point is which one of my cigar boxes I’m going to try this on and which parts I’m buying from the hardware store and online. There are web pages which I will discuss in blogs to come that offer anything you may need to get started on making a cbg of your own. My personal favorite cbg’s are the ones that use a box with plenty of design on it. Decals, crests, trim, brass, lots of brass. If I had my way I’d put as many accents on it as I could, but I must remember a very important design tip. Balance is key, clutter is confusing.
I plan on using the box pictured above as my cbg body. The size is perfect and the colors will pop with the hardware and add ons I have planned. The crest on the middle of the lid is positioned perfectly for me to add the dials and sound holes exactly where I want them to go without having to cut or cover any of the existing detail. The inside of the box has plenty of space for me to run the neck all the way to the bridge so that the guitar is very sturdy and rigid. My main concern of starting the project was having the neck break but this way I can build it tough enough to take a good rock and rolling.
As I make progress in my build I will keep you posted. From the info I have received online, building the neck is the hard part. Once it is attached to the box and fretted, the rest is smooth sailing. I hope. I have my home made blueprints ready. Now I just have to order the parts and patiently wait for the slow Canadian mail system to deliver them. If you have any tips or advice let me know. I’m open to all help. I will leave you with a few more pictures of cbg’s that really appealed to my taste. Like I said there are thousands of possibilities, here are only a few.