PICS & VIDEO: Build This Simple Shovel Handle 4-String Cigar Box Guitar

This cigar box guitar article was originally posted at PoorMansGuitar.com, Shane Speal's blog of all things musical, simple and cool...

Here's a simple cigar box guitar design I came up with using a shovel handle from Lowes. It's presented here in 'builder's diary' form, giving you an overview of the setup.  I encourage you to improve on this design and post your findings in the comments below!   

First, a quick demo video before we get started.

Parts used:

There's really not much to this guitar.  I cut the shovel handle long enough to give me a 25" scale, with an extra 4" on each side for headstock and butt.  I used a Forstner bit to cut a circular hole in the side of the box and fed the stick through it.  The 12 Bar Blues pickup was top mounted without any routing needed and a hole was cut into the side for the jack.  I didn't do any grounding.  BTW, this pickup is similar to C. B. Gitty's Wickedbuckers and Elmar's ThinPups.

On the butt side, I put a drywall screw to hold the stick in place.  The drywall screw was then hidden by the trapeze tailpiece.  

The most unusual part of this guitar is the headstock.   As seen in the video above, I simply flattened out the sides of the headstock with my belt sander and drilled for the tuners. Having the tuners on the sides of the neck allows for some great string pull behind the nut (aka bolt). 

Here's another view of the headstock.  I did put one little tuner screw beside the second string in order to keep it from moving around.  Also, to keep the bolt in place as the nut, I used my Dremel to channel a groove so it would sit flat on the stick:

This tuner layout results in an unusual setup when trying to tune the guitar, with the lower tuning keys being positioned on the right side of the headstock.  It's a little weird (and I keep reaching for the wrong tuner), but you eventually get used to it.

One other detail - I scratched fret markers on the side of the neck:

That's pretty much it.  Shove a stick through a box, string it up and wail away.  Don't overthink this.  

For those who are curious about the guitar slide in the video, it's a Turquoise Guitar Slide from StubbySlide.com. 

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Replies to This Discussion

The old style mop handles, would work great for this too. I have three sitting in my shed, that are 2 inch in diameter. But have another idea, of splitting them in half, then adding a fret board on top. Just need to find someone with a good band saw, to cut them for me.

I used a one inch Oak dowel for this 3 string 

I recently used a dowel salvaged from an old wooden picnic bench umbrella stand.  Its thick and makes for an excellent handle if you can eve get your hands on one, its worth a try

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