This will probably be one of the weirder first time posts.  I coach a middle school science team, and this year there is a new event that challenges the kid to build a home made instrument that can accurately play a scale, and a simple tune, then tests them over the physics of instruments.  

According to the rules the device may not contain any of the following "Electrical or electronic components, parts taken from  or used in any toy or professional instrument.  The only exception is strings.  

So so after some quick googling at our first team meeting we stumbled across cigar box guitars and thought this is perfect.  So how do I substitute for parts?  I think we can make tuners by drilling a hole in a bolt.  is there anything special about fret wire that I couldn't substitute some other wire for it?  about what size should I be looking at.

We are probably going to build 2.  One will be a 1 string, and the other a more typical 3 string.  Would there be drawbacks to not doing all the frets, and just doing the ones we need for the scale and 4 measures of yankee doodle?  

These will be built by the kids, but when they are done I'm going to make one for me.  Thanks for the help.

Views: 92

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That’s a great idea for a project. If you look around a little you should be able to find info on usin’ eye bolts for tuners, limitin’ the number of frets (like diatonic scale fretboard) and usin’ toothpicks instead of fret wire. I haven’t been around long and am no expert, but all these things have come up in my short time. Scroll the discussions, or try searchin’ there.I’m sure others will pitch in ideas. Good luck and let us know how it goes! I for one could dig a video of students crankin’ out Yankee Doodle on instruments they’ve made!

hi, you could get away with not using frets at all. Just scribe and/or burn the positions into the fretboard. 


Check this out, super simple cbg, gives all info & measurements? Good luck :)

You could also use a sharpie or paint pen to mark the frets, maybe the easiest? You can also glue nails, wire or even wood frets on it, just measure the height of the frets off your favorite guitar if you’re not sure? 

on my first CBG i used split pins/cotter pins for frets. cut in half they have a flat side and were easily superguled to the fretboard. there is a plethora of builds and styles on the site.

Tuners could also be wooden friction pegs like some student violins or fiddles.

I have seen small diameter nails used for frets.  Or play fretless, as mentioned, by pressing where the frets would be.

This might help.  They do use commercial guitar tuners.  They also do a scarf joint for the headstock, which (IMHO) is a bit overboard.

You could also go fretless and use a slide. Mark fret location with a sharpie.


The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources


Cigar Box Amp Mods

Started by Cigar Box Nation in Feature Articles. Last reply by RTZGUITARS on Friday. 14 Replies

Blog Posts

Mr. Bells

Posted by Stephen Cohen on September 4, 2021 at 12:30pm 0 Comments

Bookie's Poor Man's Dobro

Posted by Steve Bookout on July 18, 2021 at 2:04pm 4 Comments

Get your groove on for free

Posted by François on July 13, 2021 at 3:05pm 1 Comment

Latest Activity

Old Man Williams commented on Old Man Williams's video

Learn To Play Beatles on 3 String Cigar Box Guitar - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

"Thanks for all the positive comments, I really appreciate it :-)"
8 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Uncle John's video

Hobo’s Lullaby - repost of our recently departed friend.

"Back for another listen.  Love this.  Love that old man too.  "
23 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Steebos Kalist's video

Life By The Drop - Cigar Box Guitar Cover

"Wow, Steebos.   Fine play, but it's the vocals I am digging here.  Anybody…"
26 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Gary O'slide's video

Gary O'Slide Fugitif

"On the run.  Riding that poor horse hard.   Border bound."
28 minutes ago
Poorness Studios liked Steebos Kalist's video
32 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Rich's photo

Padron 4 hole whole

"That's not a ten. But pretty darned close."
33 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Rich's photo

Padron 4 hole front

"Me too on the sound holes, grate and painted edges. Black tail complements the black sound holes.…"
34 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on the anonymous pick's photo

swamp witch guitar bubble gum 4

"That is wonderful kitschy folk art my friend.  And no doubt, it plays well and sounds…"
36 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on the anonymous pick's photo

swamp witch guitar bubble gum 5

"Chewy. That is fun. I like it, Pick. Had a new player over last night to try my Roland Micro Cube.…"
38 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Randy S. Bretz's photo

Ziricote fret board w/ brass powder inlay bone markers

"Looks great.  It amazes me how you get such tight, beautiful joints."
39 minutes ago
Uncle John posted a photo
41 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Uncle John's photo

Good playing fretless. GDG.

"Good on you, Doug.  Have fun.  This one pictured is already being played pretty well by…"
42 minutes ago


© 2021   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->