In this guide I’m going to talk about how you could put together a full cigar box guitar in as little as 30 minutes, using nothing but a regular screwdriver and a small hammer!
You’ll know exactly which cigar box guitar kits are at the top of the market right now (in terms of quality and ease of build), and you’ll have all the resources you need to start building your own as soon as this week.
It’s always good to start off with the basics, so I’ll go over what cigar box guitars are, cover some 3-string models, look at what tools you need to build one, and then we’ll go into a few 4-string cigar box ukuleles you can build as well. Let’s begin!
The Best Cigar Box Guitar Kits to Purchase
Before we get into the details, let’s go over two of the best guitar kits available for purchase today.
We reviewed 25 guitar kit models and settled on a few that are available on Amazon Prime (super fast shipping lets you start building sooner rather than later…) and have great reviews (you know that the guitar kit you’re getting is truly the best…)
What is a cigar box guitar kit?
A Cigar Box Guitar Kit is a kitted set of parts that allows you to build an entire CBG (Cigar Box Guitar) from scratch, DIY-style, in the perfect way by following a simple set of instructions. All parts come pre-drilled and pre-marked to make assembly as easy as possible.
This can all be accomplished with a regular old hammer and screwdriver, being hands down the most affordable way to build up your own cigar box guitar.
It’s important to understand that the majority of the CBGs we’re recommending here are intended to be played like a slide guitar.
What this means is, instead of fretting each string individually and picking up chords as you would on a regular guitar, you’d put a slide on your finger and run up and down the fretboard while strumming.
This makes cigar box guitars great for playing the blues because slide guitar is practically a part of the blues genre.
Then again, if you want to play your CBG like a regular guitar make sure you buy a kit with a fretted neck (showing the fret markings).
I’d also recommend that when you’re building, you sand down the fretboard really well to keep it from scratching your fingers. In “raw form” the fretboards of these kits get pretty rough on your fingers.
3-string cigar box guitars are usually tuned to “Open G” which is G-D-G on its three strings.
4-string cigar box guitars (also called cigar box ukuleles, since they typically have smaller necks) are usually tuned to “Open G” (DGBD) or “Standard Tuning” (DGBE).
Building a 3-string cigar box acoustic guitar
The easiest cigar box guitar kit to assemble that also has some quality to it is the Pure & Simple 3-String Cigar Box Guitar Kit from C.B. Gitty. If you want to get your build right the first time, this is a great kit to get.
Here are the main CBG components included with the kit:
- 1X Hardwood Neck (pre-drilled)
- 1X Cigar Box (pre-drilled sound holes and mounting holes)
- 1X Guitar Slide (used for playing your CBG once assembled)
And here’s a list of the smaller components:
- 3X Open-Gear Guitar Tuners
- 3X Tuner Bushings
- 6X Small Mounting Screws (#1 x 5/16”) [Philips Head]
- 6X Brass Eyelet String Ferrules
- 3X Brass String Retainer Screws (#4 x ½”) [Philips Head]
- 2X Washer-Head Screws for Box Mounting
- 1X Threaded Rod Cigar Box Guitar Nut
- 1X Cigar Box Guitar Flying Bridge
- 3X Guitar Strings (.042” Bronze Winding, .012” Steel, .009” Steel)
This kit is fairly easy to put together and build, even if you’re just building your first cigar box guitar and don’t have any prior experience or know-how. It’s great for kids who like musical instruments and putting things together with their hands, and then they can play it afterward which makes for a great learning experience.
All in all, we can confidently recommend this CBG kit as a great starter’s choice. Even though it is a little bit on the higher side price-wise, the thorough documentation and quality make it all worth it.
If you wanted, you could also add a piezo pickup and drill a hole through the side for a mono jack. There are DIY piezo guitar pickup kits for CBGs available.
You can grab this guitar kit on Amazon (before it goes out of stock - they’re popular!)
Building a 3-string cigar box electric guitar
If you want to build up an electric cigar box guitar from a kit with a humbucker pickup, volume control, and fully fretted neck, check out “The Chicago” from C.B. Gitty.
Great Electric Cigar Box Guitar Kit
Building a 4-string cigar box acoustic ukulele
A great budget option for building your very own cigar box ukulele (has a shorter neck) is the 4-String Electric Blues Box Slide Guitar Kit from Hinkler.
Most of the sentiment around this guitar was “low hopes” turned into “wow, this is better than I thought!” We agree with that sentiment.
Even though the cigar box body is made of cardboard and the pickups aren’t of very high quality (I mean, for the price, what can you expect?), this cigar box guitar is loads of fun to put together and play after assembly.
If you’re going to be building on a budget, I can’t recommend this kit enough. It has everything you need to get some experience building up your own CBG and also comes with 20 CD Tracks showing you how to play a cigar box guitar.
Now, I want to say upfront, if you’re looking for more of a “project” this kit probably isn’t for you.
The box, pickups, electronics, and neck are pretty much assembled out of the box. All you have to do to put this CBG together is put the strings on, screw in bolts for the bridge, and then tighten up all of the strings.
It’ll be great for a beginner or someone looking for easy assembly, but pretty boring if you’re looking for a project. Just wanted to get that out there.
This kit comes with a glass slide and doesn’t have any frets.
What does this mean? Well, it means you hold it under your arm like a ukulele and play it like a slide guitar!
Overall, if you want a cheap cigar box guitar kit that’s super fun to put together and play, you can’t go wrong with this kit! This is one of the easiest CBG kits I’ve seen.
Grab this Cigar Box Guitar Kit on Amazon.
Recommended Cigar Box Guitar Accessories
One slide isn’t enough. That’s simply the truth. Depending on the material your guitar slide is made of, you’ll generate a different sound when playing slide guitar.
Guitar Slide Kit
304 Stainless Steel: This stainless steel metal slide produces a clear bright sound with superior intonation and excellent sustain. If you want to play a song requiring longer sustained notes or a bright melody, this is the slide for you.
Glass Slide: The glass slide really brings out the middle harmonics of your sound, generating a more “blues-like” sound. If your goal is to play blues guitar, you’ll likely find yourself sticking to a glass slide.
It couldn’t be a more perfect match. Imagine sitting there playing your Cigar Box Guitar and also having a miniature guitar amp you can clip right on your belt (or just set aside next to you).
Portable Mini Amp
This thing is super portable. Of course, don’t expect the sound quality to blow you away (it’s a tiny amp at an affordable price), but it’s loads of fun when you really get into it!
Basic tools required for CBG building
This article can’t be complete without your toolset.
Most of us have a screwdriver and hammer lying around the house somewhere (which is literally all you need to assemble these kits), but in case you don’t here are a few you can have shipped directly with your guitar kit (in the same Amazon package).
Electric Cigar Box Guitar Parts
Includes tuners, a pre-wired humbucker, and beautiful eye-catching chrome parts.
And that’s all there is to it! Now you know exactly what you have to do to get building and become the proud owner of your very own Cigar Box Guitar.
If you’re interested, there are also cigar box amplifier kits available. Once you’ve got your guitar built up, an amp kit just may be a great next project...