A CIGAR BOX FOR MUSIC BECOMES A BOX FOR EVERYTHING
I don't remember exactly how I got bitten by the cigar box guitar bug a couple of years ago, but here I am, building my tenth cigar box guitar. People have been making cigar box guitars since the mid-1800s. Jimi Hendrix got started with one. Lightnin’ Hopkins too.
You can see photos of cigar box guitars built by contemporary enthusiasts from around the world at Cigar Box Nation, the premier site for handmade stringed instruments. You can download construction plans from the site and ask questions in the forum, where friendly guitar makers will help you get started.
I buy my cigar boxes for $3 each at my local cigar box store in Studio City, California. (I have not smoked a cigar since I was in college, but the smell of the store and the boxes I buy there is lusciously intoxicating. If cigars tasted as good as they smelled, I would be addicted to them. Perhaps it’s a good thing that they don’t.) If you don’t have a cigar box store in your town, you can pick them up on eBay for a few dollars. Garage sales are another option if you don’t mind hunting around.
Cigar boxes make for good guitar bodies because the thin wood resonates when the strings are plucked. In addition to having good acoustic qualities, the artwork on the older boxes is beautiful. See Cigar Label Junkie for some stunning examples of cigar box art.
Once I started using them, I was surprised to discover how versatile cigar boxes were for other uses, such as project enclosures.
I found that they were great cases for amplifiers too. They could hold the circuit board and speaker, and drilling holes for the knobs, switches, and guitar jacks was easy. Soon I’m hoping to make a cigar box radio and a cigar box iPhone dock with a built-in speaker and amplifier. Cigar boxes are now my go-to enclosure for any project small enough to fit in one.