I am getting ready to start my Cigar Box Guitar, I am making my own box. What is the ideal thickness for the sides of the box? I'm planning on making the top and back 1/8 inch thick.

Does the thickness of the box sides have much to do with the sound? I am not electrifying the guitar.

Thanks very much!

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Hi Ron, good question. I will answer this, as I normally do from a full acoustic guitar perspective.

As Cbg's are stringed instruments I feel that the dynamics and functioning of the two - full acoustic and box styles are transferable. What is important in one is also applicable and important to the other, although possibly to a lesser extent in the CBG. 

Both instruments work as a "pump", strings move the top that in turn moves air and with it soundwaves out of the soundholes. When I build instruments I'm thinking how can I keep the strings energy exciting the top [and back] efficiently. One way is to not lose energy by having it lost in the sides. So..............No the sides do not have to play a role in sound productionMany builders of acoustic guitars go to some lengths to limit the movement of the sides. So 1/4" or so thick is fine in a Cbg. Acoustic guitar sides have to be bent so start out thinner, I stiffen mine up after. 

Your top and back thicknesses sound good, but thickness does not always relate to stiffness/flexibility. But that another story, now I'll shut up.

I hope this helps.


Thanks for your reply, I have built several dulcimer's some teardrop and some hourglass shaped, I have also built several strum sticks. I usually keep the sides 1/4 of an inch, for the top and back I use 1/8 material, I also use a brace on the underside of the top where are the bridge sets and a brace on the back usually about Center ways of the length. I'm thinking that a Cigar Box Guitar wouldn't be much different than the other instruments I've built.

Once again thanks for your reply.

I like using white pine for the sides and bottom of made boxes. For the sides, I just rip a 1x2 in half to get two pieces about 5/16" thick ( 3/4" cut in two less half the width of the saw blade). It works well.

I like 1/8 to 1/4 side wood. I use kerfing braces on the edges for strength and something to screw the top or Back onto. I have found however that thick sides and tops can still be loud. I use Cedar “up to a 3/8 inch” often. Even 1/4 inch plywood works. I use old tool boxes of sturdy vintage construction and still get good sound. A big box is often louder than a little one.


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