View Full Version : Cigar box octave mandolin

Cary Fagan
Jan-10-2008, 6:55pm
well, probably not. But I wanted to build a cigar box guitar (not having built anything before) and figured it might as well be something I can play. I built it in my kitchen. It's actually quite fun to play. The scale is short so I can use regular mando fingering. It might not look like much but hey, I actually built something I can play!

Cary Fagan
Jan-10-2008, 6:57pm
One more pic. By the way, it's not a lefty; I put the box on with the picture upside down.

Avi Ziv
Jan-10-2008, 7:00pm
Gotta love the nut and bridge http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Nice job

Jan-10-2008, 9:01pm
Actually Shane Speal gets some real decent sound out of his Cigar box instruments. I have a recording of one of his bands and you be hard pressed to tell they weren't using normal stringed instruments. Shane is the curator of the National Cigar Box Guitar museum. I sold him a cigar box uke a few years ago.

Bertram Henze
Jan-11-2008, 8:03am
That nut is the coolest idea I ever saw. Get into a DIY shop empty-handed and come out with an orchestra. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif


Jan-11-2008, 8:28am
The nut and bridge on this are standard fare on modern cigar box instruments. It has evolved into a defacto standard. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Cary Fagan
Jan-11-2008, 10:44am
True enough, on he nut and bridge. I found instructions on the net. My only innovation was using a mando tail piece.

Jan-11-2008, 10:48am
What did you use for the neck and where did you get it. Also it is just a solid piece of wood? No fretboard and extends to the tailpiece?

Cary Fagan
Jan-11-2008, 1:24pm
The neck is a piece of 1 by 2" maple I bought at Home Depot. Surprisingly nice grain. Yes it extends to the tailpiece, no fretboard. It's shaved down at the headstock and where it goes into the box. There's a guy who has produced a DVD on making cigar box guitars (jellybellymusic.com I think--he also sells them on ebay). He uses more power tools so I simplified things a lot, with the help of insructions on cigarboxguitars.com. All I used was a rasp, a file, a coping saw, a hammer, and a drill. I am going to shave some wood off the neck. I think next will be a cigar box mando. I'll add another pic.

Cary Fagan
Jan-11-2008, 1:26pm
and one more.

Jan-11-2008, 2:48pm
Decades ago Blues Legend 'Bo Diddley' had a custom made electric guitar made with a rectangular body
reminiscent of a cigar box stringed instrument with a plantation slavery history.

AS a one of a kind instrument Bo's Axe was rather tough to Pawn.
So when it was stolen at a gig it was promptly traced back to A theft reported and quickly returned.

David M.
Jan-11-2008, 3:22pm
Looks cool. I love it.

A luthier buddy of mine here in town made (and maybe makes) a pizza-box banjo that doesn't sound too bad.

Jan-11-2008, 3:39pm
We're the cigars any good?


Jan-11-2008, 3:42pm
Anybody looking for more information on Cigar Box Instruments can find it here (http://www.geocities.com/cigarboxguitar/national.html). The uke in the foreground all the way to right was mine at one time. I bought it about 40 years ago and it was ancient then.

Jan-11-2008, 4:30pm
I think that link may have swamped the page. I'll try back later.

Thanks for the info, one day I'll see about making me a cigar box mandolin.

Jan-11-2008, 5:03pm
I've seen some cigar box ukes at Elderly's before, but that is the first mandolin. That is so cool, and the nut is way bad. I give it a ten on the cool scale.

Jan-11-2008, 7:46pm
How does it compare to the Passernig? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Cary Fagan
Jan-12-2008, 11:11am
It blows the Passernig out of the water.

just kidding. The Passernig is too great for words. A joy to play. And a spectacular sound.

AW Meyer
Jan-13-2008, 2:07pm
That is way cool, Cary. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Cary Fagan
Jan-14-2008, 12:01pm
Thanks all. Nice to hear from you, Al.

I hesitate to add this video link but what the heck. My brother took it last night on his cell phone. we'd just come in from the cold, the mando was not in perfect tune, my hands were cold (excuses, excuses), and the sound and image are crummy. Not to mention, our goofing around. However, here it is.

http://video.google.ca/videopl....l=en-CA (http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=6314644419661151171&hl=en-CA)

Jan-27-2008, 9:49pm
Did you use real frets or something else? Copy the fret spacing from another mando? It sounds good on the video!

Cary Fagan
Jan-28-2008, 11:35am
Real frets. There are a number of fret calculators on the net. You put in the scale (distance from nut to bridge) and it gives you the measurement for each fret. I used a coping saw to cut the slots and ordered fret wire (cut in short lengths) from a source on ebay.

I'm onto my second, a mandolin (not octave). Doing amuch better job. Different headstock design, cleaner and more accurate fit, better fret job (used a mitre box to get them straight!), tapered the neck, even better cigar box. I'm waiting for my cheap tuners to arrive from elderly. I'll post some pics when it's done. I'm certainly having fun.

Jan-28-2008, 11:58am
I did a similar build a while back, but instead of a cigar box I made a bowl back by cutting mitered circles with a scroll saw and then stacking them together, gluing and sanding. It's a real common scroll saw technique for making bowls from a flat board. Some thin mahogany (project wood for scroll sawing; you can get small thin pieces of lots of woods for reasonable prices) for the top and I was in business. One tip for other DIY on-the-cheap types - you want a thin cutting saw for frets. The cheapest I found was a Harbor Freight flush cut saw. You have to clamp a guide board next to the cut line and use finger pressure to keep it straight. I have seen a uke plan that uses toothpicks glued to the neck as frets.