The Piccolo Cigar Box Guitar - Get Mandolin & Uke Tones with 1/2 Scale Concept

I like to build instruments that will cover the full sonic spectrum.  If I'm looking for something that will cover the upper end, a simple PICCOLO cigar box guitar is the perfect solution.

  1. A piccolo cigar box guitar only has a 12.5" scale
  2. It is tuned to Open F (FCf)
  3. It's just as easy to build as a regular cigar box guitar.

Demo video:


  • Follow our instructions for making a classic 3-string cigar box guitar
  • Instead of using a 3 foot length of poplar for the neck, only use approx. 20" section. 
  • Allow for a 12.5" scale length.  You'll need 4" for headstock and 3-4" for the neck section that falls behind the bridge.

  • If you plan on adding frets or fret markers, here are the measurements:

  • Finish the guitar as shown in the original plans.

Just remember, the simplicity of the cigar box guitar design allows for all kinds of experimentation.  Try different scales, string gauges and # of strings.  Use this concept to make baritones and even bass cigar box guitars.  The only limitation is your imagination!

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And on my third string, I was an octave too low, hence rattles, etc.  LOL>

Awesome! I've already got my box picked out!!

I like the idea of this.

I have 2 Sopranino Ukuleles which are around 11 - 11 1/2 inch scales so i think i'll give this a go. 

I was worried about the size of them originally especially as the frets seemed so close together but i've since found that for me ease of play is all to do with the nut width.

Disclaimer: This is only personal opinion - i understand it may be different for others.

I find my Sopranino with a wider nut easier to play, even though it's a slightly shorter scale - not sure if that's helpful to anyone considering making one.

I built mine months ago, but I never did find out what kind of strings to put on.  I think there is one metal acoustical guitar string and 2 uke strings on there now.  There is no puck up on it (yet) and it is unfretted, but I could fret it at any time.  Any help on string type would be appreciated.


I'm trying one now going to put dog dish in it and magnet pick up and piezo on a three way switch wish me luck.

Good luck.  I have pretty much abandoned mine because I never was able to find out what strings to use and couldn't get the info.  It now has a steel lower string and 2 upper ones are uke.  It is acoustic and fretless.

For a simple way to pick strings, if you have access to a standard six string and a capo you can set the capo to your scale length and get an idea of what each string sounds like and what note it is.  A string can go a little tighter or looser if they are close to your desired tuning.  But for 12.5", it is right at (or near) the 12th fret for a full length guitar scale so everything shifts up an octave.

Thanks for that Kigar. I will give it a go next time I am in my shop.   


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