Cigar box guitars are home made instruments with a distinctive sound. They are a great way to learn how to play slide music or any type of chord progressions. The lack of strings limits the sound but also opens up tremendous possibilities. Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or are just getting started, it is easy to get started with a three string cigar box instrument in open tuning or GDGB.
The first step to building a cigar box guitar is to choose the right box. The best boxes are clean and free of dents or scratches. They should be large enough to produce a good tone and not too small to be difficult to fret. You can find free, recycled boxes at many grocery stores and liquor stores.
Once you have chosen a box, it is important to mark the location for the neck. To do this, measure the thickness of the top of the box and make a mark on the neck at that depth. Measure the inside length of the box and make another mark on the neck at that length. You will need to cut the neck so that the fretboard is level with the top of the box. Use a saw to cut the marks and a chisel to remove the excess material until the neck fits snugly into the box. You may need to sand the neck down or use a file to smooth it.
It is a common misconception that all cigar box guitar are made from old Coke bottles. While this is an excellent starting point, there are many more ways to build a cigar box guitar. For example, you can build an electric cigar box guitar, add steel frets or even make it a ukulele. There are many websites dedicated to cigar box guitars, so it is a good idea to do some research and find what style of music you want to play on your cigar box guitar before making one.
The most common strings used for cigar box guitars are nylon and round-wound steel. Both of these strings are easier to fret than high tension guitar strings. A nylon string is less likely to break than a steel string and it can give the cigar box guitar a more mellow tone. A round-wound steel string is a little more brittle but can be easier to tune and play in sharp keys.
After the string is installed, a tailpiece, bridge and nut should be added to the instrument. You should then install tuners and run the strings. You can use a three stringed cigar box guitar in open tuning or GDGB which is similar to banjo tuning. The chord shapes are more simple than on a standard guitar and this makes it easy to learn songs.
Although some musicians consider cigar box guitars to be novelty items, there is a strong everyman ethos in the community of luthiers who build these instruments. Walker, for example, makes his cigar box guitars by the dozens and sells them at the Charleston Night Market. He has even been known to hand a guitar off to people who have asked him for it.