Make: Projects - Cigar Box Guitar - PDF

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Make your very own cigar box guitar and serenade friends and family.

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This sweet-sounding, three-stringed mini guitar revives an American musical tradition.

As a volunteer music teacher, Ed Vogel sometimes meets kids who can't afford instruments. So he decided to design one that they could inexpensively build themselves, based on the traditional cigar box guitar.

Before the 1950s, when factory guitars became less expensive, many folk musicians built their own stringed instruments. Wooden cigar boxes, which were solidly constructed connoisseur objects, became a popular choice for the instruments' bodies. Thus, an American tradition was born, and today, the cigar box guitar is enjoying a folk revival. 

This guitar is a simple, three-stringed design that uses only one power tool and common hardware. Despite its low cost, this guitar plays real music and will hold its tuning for a couple of days. A kid can build it (and play it), and so can you.

This project first appeared on the pages of Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 04. Includes embedded video.