Cigar box guitar no. 2


For my second cigar box guitar, I bought a six foot length of 1 x 2 oak from Home Depot. I made sure the piece of lumber was flat and straight. It weighed a lot more than the pine wood I’d used in my first cigar box guitar, and felt a lot better in my hands. I also bought a small metal miter box from a hobby store to cut the fret slots in the neck. This time, I made perfectly straight fret cuts.

I shaved off the part of the neck that attached to the cigar box so that the surface of the fret board was flush with the top of the cigar box, unlike on my first cigar box guitar. Remembering Mister Jalopy’s dictum, “screws not glues,” I screwed the neck to the cigar box with three fasteners. This way, if I need to make changes or later want to swap in a new cigar box, it will be a simple matter to remove the screws.

I made a couple of small mistakes, like drilling a hole in a spot that hit a screw going in a perpendicular direction to the hole, but this guitar build went very smoothly. The action is low, but not so low that it buzzes, and I can play the strings all the way up to the highest fret (the 20th) without interference.

Many thanks to Steve Lodefink and the gang at Cigar Box Nation for the advice on this!

Photos of cigar box guitar no. 2


  1. So Mark, you ready to start the jam sessions? Looks phenomenal!!!


    ps. Here’s a little inspiration for ya, cut and pasted from an online tutorial I did a while ago:
    Tunings for a 3-string cigar box guitar (utilizing A,D,G strings from an acoustic guitar string set). All notes are listed from low to high (bass to treble)

    Open A: A,E,A’
    Open G: G,D,G’
    A7 (the magic jazz tuning): A,E,G
    A6 (Hawaiian tuning): A,E,F#
    G9 (mandolin-type tuning/Shane Speal’s “sitar” tuning*): G,D,A
    Dirty E : Ultra-low E, E, B (in this tuning, the low E is practically flapping against the fretboard. Great for mean and dirty blues)

    *Shane uses the flat edge of a bone slide to buzz against the high string, creating a sitar-like sound. As heard in the Jug Fusion song “Bone To Pick”

  2. At the rate you’re going thru cigars, Mark, you better get to work on an iron lung!

  3. did you have to tear apart a real guitar to get those string-tightener things, or can you buy them new somewhere?

  4. Thanks for the tuning guide, Shane! It will come in handy!

    Cleek — your CBG looks great. Maybe you should get some building tips from the kind gang at cigarboxnation on improving the sound quaility.

    Stefan — That’s right, and the eggs are delicious! They have a nice smoky flavor.

    Anonymous — You can buy tuner pegs from and many other places online.

  5. I bought a lot of 10 boxes on ebay a few weeks ago… planning on making the trip to HD this weekend for the neck, etc. Where did you get the fret wire? has a bunch but I’m not sure if I really need professional wire.

  6. Hey Mark. I like your CBG. I’m working on my first one now. Question about one of the photos…are you actually cutting the headstock with a coping saw by hand? If so, how difficult is it to keep the blade straight? I have a Craftsman 9″ bandsaw, but have had a difficult time doing a straight cut on my practice wood. It may need some adjustment or possibly a different blade, but if I can do it with a coping saw and not too much frustration, I’m all for it.

  7. I so wanna draw Mark (in overalls) playing his CBG to chickens smoking cigars, but this article will be gone and forgotten by the time it was done.

  8. Nice job!! You gotta be proud.

    Just a few random thoughts here. For the folks that are expecting these to sound like a Martin guitar, forget it. Thats not the nature of the beast. These are low down dirty Delta blues boxes. In the right hands and with good slide technique they sound great! So forget about what you think they should sound like and enjoy them for what they are.

    Also, a great, and cheaper, wood for the neck is Poplar. Its a nice close grained hardwood. It looks great too. I get mine at Lowe’s. They sell it in 4 footers for around $3.50.

    Personally, I like to glue rather than screw. Makes it more solid and gives it more sustain. I figure if something is not right, I build another. All I am out is about 8 bucks in material and some time. And the lesson will make the next one even nicer.

    Hope ya don’t mind a stranger chiming in.


  9. Your CBG looks great! I am going to start building mine tomorrow. I notice that you have put the neck on the bottom of the CBG where most of the plans and CBGs I have seen place it under the lid. Why did you decide to use the bottom instead?

  10. The guitar you just made it`s awesome I had to say. If it can perform like a real one than you are truly an artist. I made something just like this from cigar paper one and everybody was amazed.

Comments are closed.