Cigar Aficionado

A How-To Guide for Building Cigar-Box Guitars

When you accumulate stacks and stacks of empty cigar boxes, there are a lot of things you can do with them. Sure, some are given away to friends. You use a few for storage, and maybe a few are nice enough to be displayed. Crafters have found numerous uses for old cigar boxes, from purses to speaker cabinets for home theaters. But no cigar-box product is quite so impressive as the cigar-box guitar.

They're daunting to build, of course. And that's why craftsman David Sutton has put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide in his book Cigar Box Guitars: The Ultimate DIY Guide for Makers and Players of the Handmade Music Revolution (Fox Chapel Publishing, $29.95).

A rich history and detailed background on the cigar-box guitar as art and instrument is an enjoyment to read. Sutton has spared no expense in creating a world around the DIY project and the culture behind it. But by far the most fascinating material is the step-by-step process, laid comfortably in front of the reader.

Don't mistake this for an easy project, necessarily; it's a 92-step process from beginning to end to create a playable, electric guitar out of your favorite box or cabinet. But if you'd like to try something less complex the first time, Sutton gives you options. The volume offers three separate builds for a variety of levels of complexity, ranging from the simpler fretless guitar to an electric six-string with all the bells and whistles. Tips keep you cautioned to the pitfalls of construction.

It's a good way to spend a weekend, share some time with a fellow smoker/musician/handyman, and for a musician there's probably not a better feeling than strumming your own handmade guitar with a cigar in your mouth.

Visit for more titles by Sutton.

" Is there a book on how to turn a cabinet into a humidor?" —May 22, 2013 22:18 PM