Cigar Box Guitar Kit – Part One

My second son also likes guitars and he likes making things, so for his birthday recently I bought him a Cigar Box Guitar kit from Crimson Guitars, where I will go to do my guitar building course in a couple of months.  This is a new venture for them, as well as for us, and it promised to be interesting and fun, and a nice way for us to spend some time working on the cigar box guitar (CBG) together.

There are a number of options for the kits.  Firstly, there are three different combinations of woods for the neck and fretboard.  I chose Maple and Purpleheart, which is similar to what I want to use for my guitar build.  Next there are standard, premium and ultra kits.  The standard kits contain all you need for a basic cigar box guitar, but the premium kit adds a single coil pickup (instead of the basic piezo), more interesting wood choices and a wooden bridge.  The ultra kit adds a mini fret-levelling kit, a bottle of their finishing oil and a wooden box.  I decided to splash out the extra for the ultra kit, because the tools in the kit and the finishing oil will probably be useful for me too.

I gave the kit to my son on his birthday, and we made a short unboxing video which is available on my YouTube channel, as below.

Then, a week later, he came round and we did the first few steps of the build.  There are ten steps in the instructions, as described in the unboxing video above, and we more or less did the first three.

The Box and its Contents.
The Box and its Contents.
Marking out

The first step is to plan your build and mark the various components accordingly.  There are a number of choices to be made about the design, both functional and cosmetic, and you need to think carefully about how the neck and body fit together, particularly so that the strings will be at the right height.

Gluing the fretboard to the neck

This is a fairly simple, yet critical step, and care must be taken to ensure that the two are glued properly and the fretboard does not move from the desired position.

Preparing the body for the neck

The cigar box needs work to accommodate the neck, and what needs to be done depends on your design.  We chose a fairly standard and simple way of doing this, but if you watch Crimson Guitars’ recent four-way CBG competition, you will see that each of the luthiers took quite a different approach.

We thought that these first steps went quite well, although they did take us quite a long time (the video is a small proportion of the total time spent).  However, this is our first such build, and so that is to be expected.  You can see how it went in Episode One of CBG Build series below.

Following this first sesssion, I have ordered some new tools to help with the next steps, including a small set of rasps and files and a Proxxon IBS/E rotary multitool, which will be great for routing out the small cavities for inlaying the coins and other jobs.  I have also ordered a directional microphone for my camcorder which I hope will reduce the background noise on videos like this one, where I don’t use the mikes that I have for music.  The background noise level is quite high in some parts of this latest video, but when you are concentrating on what you are doing, you don’t even notice it.

You can see what happened in part two here!