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  • Writer's pictureLiza

Cigar Box Guitar Build No.1

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

This is my first attempt at building a cigar box guitar. I used a Tabak Especial Toro Negra box, kindly gifted to me by the owners of my local cigar shop. I used a three-foot 1.5 inch by 0.7 inch pine board for the neck/headstock/fretboard/tailpiece, which I purchased from Lowes. I also bought some templates from to properly space my fret markings and tuners.

This guitar is surprisingly resonant and sounds great unplugged. I took special care to leave the cigar box as open as possible by limiting the number of contact points inside the box. It also has a built-in unbuffered piezo pickup; I am constructing an external preamp for my guitar so it sounds good plugged in.

For simplicity and strength, I opted for a fender-style headstock but jazzed it up with a carved "cat scroll." I also wood-burned a cat briar motif onto the headstock, sound holes, and tailpiece of the guitar. I obviously love cats!

I wanted to have the ability to access the inside of my box to repair or replace my piezo pickup. So, I installed latch clasps to the box and secure the box closed with a piece of rope.

Although this is a slide guitar, I wanted to mark the frets for ease of playing, so I purchased a 25-inch scale length template from, and burnt in my fret markers with a wood burner. I'm treating this like a diatonic instrument, so I burnt in important scale-degree markers on the side of the neck. With a tiny bit of music theory, I can transpose any song to the key of my cigar box guitar.

This is by no means a perfect build. But, it has reinvigorated my creativity as a musician and maker. I'm learning to play my CBG and am currently working on a batch of 3 new instruments!

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