Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to make a cigar box style electric guitar!

This is a cigar box style guitar inspired from the early blues.

First of all I cut the pieces of the body with my jigsaw. I use a clamped board as a guide. I also use a smooth cut blade.

I will join the body using finger joints. I mark the depth of the fingers with a sharp knife and cut the joints on my scroll saw.

In one side I make a hole with a forstner bit to reduse the mass of the wood. This way the output jack of the guitar will fit in nicely.

I glue the pieces together. I clamp them with a frame clamp and I check for square edges.

I glue some wooden pieces to provide more strength and also mass for the screws of the top and bottom.

I will join the box with the fretboard using a half lap joint. I start by cutting the body and then use a chisel to finish the cut.

I cut the fretboard and clean the cut with a chisel. 

Now I need to remove wood mass from the fretboard in order for the pickup to fit in. I use my saw and a chisel to do the job.

I mark the the fretboard’s back and cut it on the scroll saw.

I use my rasp to shape the neck.  

I make a wooden pickup frame on the scroll saw. I mark where to cut by using an old pickup frame.

Now I cut notches for the keys to fit in. 

I use a fret calculator to find the positions of the frets. My scale is 63cm.

I mark the fret positions on the fret board with a pencil. 

I cut the fret slots. 

I glue the fretboard on the neck.

I trim the fret board flush with the neck using a block plane.

I drill holes on the fretboard for dowels. The dowels will be used as fret number guides.

I use my glue gun and dowel positions markers to find a good spot to drill the top and bottom for screws.

I screw the top and trim it flush with a block plane.

I trim the dowels on the frets with a flush trim saw.

I cut the fret wire to length. I fit in the frets and add super glue to their edges for strength. I trim the fret wire flush with a rotary tool.

I apply two coats of teak oil to all the wooden parts.

I use the pyrographer to burn my name and the guitar’s name on the wood.

For the wiring I used the schematics from Seymour Duncan’s web site. I downloaded the wiring diagram for a humbucker and a volume pot.

I solder the parts together. 

I make a tail piece from a crap piece of metal. I cut it and shape it on the vise. I drill all the holes needed using oil to cool down the parts, to prevent drill bit brakes. I screw it on the guitar.

I glue the nut with my glue gun.

I make the bridge using a scrap piece which I planed on the right thickness. I glue the bone with my glue gun.

I open the channels for the strings with a small saw.

I make the knob of the pot on my scroll saw.

My guitar needs some more fine tunings but at this point is playable and ready for action!


  1. HEY DUDE, your work is really amazing, congratulations,
    well done,
    i want to make my own cigar box blues guitar, i love the blues
    can you give me the size of the box, please bro
    excuse my english, im from mexico
    i dont know how to say anything else
    i would appreciate that
    thank you

    1. Don't worry my English are not better! I am Greek. The size of my box is
      30,5x19x5,2cm. Glad that you liked it and thanks for the comment!

  2. Awesome project! Where did you bought the guitar parts? Internet store?

    1. I bought the pickup second hand on line. The keys, the pot and the input jack I bought from a local e-shop! They are easy to find! Thanks for the nice words!

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  4. Hey man, great project. I need to build one for a school project, and was wondering if I could also make a tutorial video about how to make this. I can give all the credit to you if you would like. Thanks and great job

    1. Thank you for the comment, glad you liked my guitar! You don't need anyone's permission to make your own tutorial. Make your video and post on youtube for all of us to watch!

    2. What thickness plywood did you use for the sides and for the top and bottom?

  5. Could you list all the supplies you used so I have something to go off of?

    1. Nothing much, plywood, any kind of wood for the neck, guitar keys, Input jack, volume pot, guitar pickup, screws, wood glue, fret wire, nut bone and the rest you have to improvise with what you got, at least that's what I did. It is a pretty difficult build if you do it for the first time, and you'll have to go with trial and error, try beginning with the body or the neck and try to gradually complete the build! This is the way I did it at least!

  6. Is it possible to use 6 strings instead of 4? This is my first time making an electric guitar and I'm unsure as to whether you had a reason for only using 4.

    1. I added four just to make things easier for me. More strings means more tension and I would need a trus rod in order for the neck to stay straight! I also like 4 strings beacuse I can tune the tree strings in a chord triad and then use the fourth as an octave or a fifth! But I guess that's a matter of personal preference!

  7. How long is the fred board and the neck? Lo e your guitar!! Thanks :)

    1. Thanks for the nice words! My scale is 63cm from nut to nut!

  8. Hi
    you tell that the scale length is 63 cm.
    i need to know the width of the arm for the 4 string guitar ,and if you can tell me the total lenght of the arm.


  9. Hi, what strings did you use for the guitar?
    Love your project.
    If anybody knows what strings to use please answer ;)

    1. Any strings will work, i suggest you use the a, d, g (and b) strings

  10. θα ηθελα πολυ ενα τετοιο οργανο ,γινεται?

  11. what is the neck wood? (sorry for the spelling)

  12. Είσαι καλλιτέχνης!

  13. Now that you've had this instrument for awhile is there anything you would change? You said you would like to fine tune a few things at the end of this article. What did you change eon your instrument and how did you change what you did?

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  15. Hi, amazing job man, can you tell me what strings you used? is it DGBE?

  16. Hey, man, great job! I was just wondering where I could find supplies for making the guitar. Great video by the way, too.