Frequently asked Questions

  • What tools do I need to make a Cigar Box Guitar?

You only need a few general tools for building a cigar box guitar. Depending on if you are starting your build from scratch or buying pre-made parts you may need a more comprehensive tool kit or just a few household tools. Our 'How to Build your Cigar Box Guitar' playlist on YouTube provides a more in-depth look at the tools you will need, and how to use them properly at each stage of your build. 

We recommend you acquire the following basic tools (and learn how to safely use them) if you are building your guitar from scratch.

A basic handsaw, electric drill, Philips/Pozidriv headed screwdriver, wood-glue, clamps, rasp, soft faced hammer, regular hammer, wire cutters and sandpaper of various grades. If the bug bites and you wish to build more Cigar Box Guitars or or you want to buy more specialised tools to make some tasks easier, we have some available for purchase on our website.

Please note we do NOT recommend buying fancy/expensive power machinery for first time or casual builders. They are potentially dangerous, even with experience and when taking the proper safety precautions. Cigar Box Guitars can easily be built safely and at a reasonable pace using simpler tools, it just requires you to make the effort to learn how to use the tools you have. Learning to use handtools is a skill that will stay with you,  something that will improve with time and practice and serve you well in future - it's time well spent.


  • How do I fit a fretboard to a neck?
When fitting a fretboard to the neck of your guitar there are a few things you should be wary of.

Firstly it is best to fit your fretboard before you carve or shape the neck as the wood will move/settle once carved/shaped. 
Make sure your fretboard is slightly oversized in width to your neck. We provide all our fretboards a few mm oversized, this is in order to allow "wiggle room" when lining up your fretboard correctly to the neck. If you cut your fretboard to width before attaching it to your neck you might find it very difficult to line it up exactly. 
Make sure you use a liberal amount of wood glue and ensure that you keep the neck firmly clamped up at least overnight in a room temperature environment. Too little glue and your fretboard will not stay, the excess glue is easily removed during the shaping/shading process of the neck. If you glue up your neck in too cold or too hot an environment, the wood glue may not form a proper bond between the board and the neck causing the joint to fail
The last step is to simply plane or sand away the few spare mm that overhangs the sides of the neck. 
  • When do I shape the neck?

It is best to carve and shape the neck after the fretboard has been attached and any wood burned or dot markers have been added. You can carve and shape your neck before adding markers, but having the neck still in the square makes the task of installing fret markers a little easier.


  • Why does the neck need to go through the box?

By running the neck through the box/body of your Cigar Box Guitar it ensures that there is no load placed on the box/body by the strings and is instead all taken by the neck. This ensures the box/body only acts as a sound chamber in a similar manor to the build of the traditional banjo. 

If you are building a guitar with anything other then a peizo pickup you need to make sure when making your neck that you reinforce the neck with a backstrap/neck heel. This ensures that you remove the weak point when fitting/cutting out the space for your pickup in the neck stick so it still retains its structural integrity. If a backstrap is not added the is a risk that the neck will bend or even break or split under the forces exerted by the strings at the weak point made by the pickup cut-out. 


  • Tips for soldering?

When soldering any kind of pickup make sure that the soldering iron is up to temperature before you start.
Remember to clean your iron during soldering to ensure the tip does not become  contaminated.
Tin the wires to make it easier to solder them onto the pots or jack socket.
Make sure to use the side of the soldering iron rather then the tip to provide more surface area contact to the solder. 


  • My pickup isn't making a sound/ My guitar isn't working

If once you have soldered your electrics together and find they aren't producing any sound first make sure all the soldered joints are solid by giving the wires a quick tug to make sure they are anchored properly as you may have a dry joint. If that's all OK the next step is to make sure its not the amplifier or lead you are using that is causing the problem, as more often then not the problem lies with a faulty lead or a dead amplifier. The other fault could be that one of the electrical components may be faulty and needs to be replaced.


  • What do I tune my Cigar Box Guitar to?

The standard Cigar Box Guitar tuning that we use is G,D,G. The simplest ways to tune your guitar are to use a tuner or a phone app. Just make sure when using a tuner that you set the scale to Chromatic rather then Guitar as the guitar scale may try and force you to tune higher causing the strings to snap. 


  • What strings do I use?

You can use any standard electric guitar strings. We have our own specified quality strings made by Newtone to provide the perfect balanced tension sets and save you from buying a standard 6 string set and having to throw half of them away. 


  • Do I need a special amplifier?

No you do not need to buy any special amplifier, any standard guitar amplifier will work with our Cigar Box Guitars. We offer a range of amplifiers from simple jam-jar amps at £25 to the more expensive original Pignose amp at £97 if you do not own one already.