Another Cigar Box Guitar

Cigar Box Guitar with pickup installedA couple weeks ago I decided to make a second cigar box guitar. This time I followed the plans from It was more complicated than the MAKE magazine version I made previously. The neck runs through the box rather than just being glued to the top. I also decided to use real strings and tuners, and make it electric.

Hooking up the pickup was ridiculously easy. I took a Radio Shack piezo buzzer, hooked it to a 1/4″ input jack, taped it together, and that was it! Before installing it into the guitar I plugged it into my amp to make sure it the connections were good, and everything worked fine the first time.

The biggest problem I hit was that I had shaved down the headstock too much. In trying to make it a little more guitar-looking, I planed down the headstock area. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until the very end (when I was stringing the finished guitar) that I had made the headstock too thin. The tuners stuck out high above the nut, and the action on the guitar would be unplayably high.

After I supressed the urge to smash the whole thing, I re-drilled the holes for the tuners where the nut was, and re-filed the groove for the nut further down the neck. That worked out fine, and the project was saved (whew).

The action is still high but it sounds good and is definitely playable. I’ll have to make a clip of Jack or Joe playing it and post it.

Completed Cigar Box Guitar

11 Responses to “Another Cigar Box Guitar”

  1. Neolardo Va Dinci says:

    Now make me a cigar band tambourine!

  2. Mike says:

    I did see them, that’s one of the things that inspired me. Really great work!

  3. elliott says:

    looks rad dose it soud good?
    was it worth it?

  4. Brian says:


    Help a brother out? You mentioned you went the Radio Shack route — did you have to break down the buzzer out of its plastic casing? Any help possible on the wiring, as in ground/live on an input jack?

    I’d be very, very appreciative.



  5. Mike says:

    The buzzer was used as-is in the case and is still very sensitive. The wiring was really easy. I’m not sure it matters which way you hook it up but it worked the first way I tried it. I ended up not even soldering, just put electrical tape on the connections.

    Good luck, let me know how it goes!

  6. Anonymous says:

    You *can* break the piezo transducer out of it’s case, it works either way.

  7. musikman says:

    does the sound dampen realy quickly (cause it’s fretless)

  8. Wichita Sam says:

    Go ahead and break the piezo out of the plastic case. In the case it is more sensitive to feeback. Don’t worry about polarity, it will work fine either way. I’m not sure about the action being too high, but it guess you’re using bolts for nut/bridge that are too large. BTW, high action isn’t much of an issue on a fretless guitar. Many slide players like it that way. Fretless/not fretless has little to do with “sustain”. Neck thru designs, especially with hardwood neck have great sustain.

    hope this helps,
    Wichita Sam
    (veteran of 120+ CBG builds)

  9. Eric says:

    what size piezo buzzer

  10. Bill says:

    Pretty good lookin cbg for your 2nd attempt. Since you’ve built that one, you’ve prob made several more. I found an old CORA electric guitar at a rummage sale for $5 and salvaged the humbucking pickups from it… stuck em in a cohiba box and called it awesome. Never know what you’ll find!