A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘diy

Gas Can Guitar

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It’s been a while, but I made another guitar. This one’s a Gas Can Guitar, made out of, well, a gas can…

I saw one online a while ago, thought it was awesome, and wanted to make my own. My dad gave me the gas can a year or two ago, I found a donor guitar for the parts cheap online at the beginning of this year, and I finally got around to making it. This one was probably the easiest I’ve made so far, but I wasn’t overly motivated to do it, so it dragged on for a while.

As for play-ability, the action turned out pretty high and there’s not much I can do to lower it easily due to how it’s made. It also goes in and out of tune while playing due to the can bowing and shifting the bridge (I think). So, it’s not the best sounding or playing guitar, but still good enough to play around and have some fun with. Also, the pickup is a little on the hot side, which I like.

The back:

And here’s a pic before it was assembled, so you can see what’s inside:

And finally, here’s a short and rather sloppily played video:

Thanks as always for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!


Written by Jim

November 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

License Plate Guitar

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About a week ago I finished my most recent guitar build, an electric four string license plate guitar:

Having seen a number of these on YouTube, I’ve wanted to make one for a while. I actually started on it around Christmas time, but didn’t work on it for a weeks at a time due to being busy and having some life distractions.

The box is made out of poplar, the neck butternut, and the finger board is oak. I got the license plate off eBay and chose one from New York because I think it looks cool, it’s fairly unique (most license plate guitars I’ve seen use western plates), and I’m from New York state originally.

Aesthetically speaking, this is one of the favorites that I’ve made; it didn’t turn out perfect, but I’m pleased with it. Unfortunately I messed up marking the fingerboardĀ and cutting for the frets though; it doesn’t play in tune down the neck. It’s still good enough for me to use to noodle around with, but it always just sounds a bit “off” and I won’t play it for many people (not that I do much of that anyway).

This isn’t an original idea, but my favorite thing about this is the tail piece: it’s the end of a fork cut and bent for the application. It works perfectly and, in my opinion, looks pretty cool.

For pickups, there are two piezos mounted under the plate, one under either end of the bridge, and I included a volume control. The sound quality is so-so, about what you can expect for piezo pickups.

Well, thanks a lot for looking. I have another project I want to start right away, and it shouldn’t be too hard, but finding the motivation and time to do it could prove challenging.

Thanks for reading and happy playing!

Written by Jim

March 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

Wine Box Guitar

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After a several month hiatus over the summer, I’ve finally built another guitar: A Wine Box Guitar.


I got the idea after seeing a video of Justin Johnson (easily my favorite CBG player) playing one sometime last year. I got the box from eBay and my wife found the guitar that I used for the other components while helping clean out a relative’s basement.

Here’s the “before” picture:


I’m relatively please with how it turned out but there are some flaws and short comings. The wine box has really think sides (3/4″) and the top and bottom are 1/4″ thick, so it doesn’t resonate well at all. As a result, it’s very “thin” sounding and doesn’t have much volume. A larger sound hole would have helped, but I didn’t want to ruin the awesome dragon on the lid, so went with a simple f-hole. Cutting that out was the hardest most time consuming part of the process and it splintered a little around the edge.


Template I made for tracing the hole.

Otherwise the build was pretty straight forward, I just removed the bridge and neck from the guitar and put them on the wine box. I did replace the nut and tuners as well.

It is playable but due to the poor sound quality is more of a decoration than anything to me. I still think it’s neat and am pleased with it. Here are just a few more pictures and there’s a video, with some quite noticeable mistakes, at the end of me playing it.


You can get an idea here of the thickness of the sides. This was a 2-bottle wine box, the notches in the sides were for inserts to hold the bottles in place.

The neck was glued on and reinforced with two screws.

Having nylon strings, I think playing classical music with it is most appropriate, but I’m not the best classical guitarist. Here’s the video, anyway. (It’s pretty faint, so you might have to turn up your volume)

Thanks a lot for looking, and happy playing!

Written by Jim

November 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Cigar Box Amplifier

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This is my latest project: a cigar box amplifier.

A video is at the bottom of this post.

To be completely honest, I can’t tell you a lot about it. Electronics aren’t a strong suit of mine and I followed step by step directions to put it together. Here is a link. IĀ had seen these before at a cigar box guitar festival but, though I thought they were cool, I didn’t really think about making one. However, months ago I somehow happened upon these instructions and figured why not give it a shot.

Some of you might laugh when you see the wiring and my gobs of solder, but hey, it works! The instructions said to plan on about 4 hours to put it together; I think it took me 10. It’s a neat little amp though. It uses a 4″ speaker and the controls are volume and gain. It’s powered by a 9V battery, or a wall adapter (which I haven’t tried yet), and is wired so that it turns on automatically when an instrument cable is plugged in.



It behaves somewhat like a tube amp in that it breaks up a bit as you turn up the volume. I’ve also found that it responds well to guitar volume adjustments. I leave the amp pretty well cranked now and just roll off the guitar volume when I want a cleaner sound (something I didn’t include in the video). I’ve also found it to sound a bit better with single coil pickups, but that’s probably a matter of personal preference.

Below is the aforementioned video. Nothing special, but enough to get the idea.


Thanks a lot for reading, happy playing!

Written by Jim

May 30, 2016 at 10:20 pm

A Bedpan Guitar

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This is another guitar that I finished late in December, a bedpan guitar. I can’t take credit for the idea, just do a google search and you’ll find several others.
(more pictures at the end of the post)

The story behind this one is that my mother (a nurse with a pretty goofy sense of humor) saw a few at a festival she went to over the summer and asked if I could make her one. She thought it was funny and the bedpan reminded her of her nursing school days. It wasn’t very hard to make, it just took me a while to get to it. She was very happy with it.

I found the bedpan on Craigslist, which has to go down as my most interesting Craigslist purchase. I cleaned it so hard before doing anything with it, you can’t even imagine.

I didn’t shoot any video of it or record it, and it’s sort of hard to explain the sound. It sounds okay, but definitely different than a cigar box guitar does. Less volume (I think due to the lack of a lid and the bridge resting right on the neck) but sort of metallic-y and well suited for playing with a slide.

It was fun to do and I’m happy my mother enjoys it so much but I can’t say I’d make another.

Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed.

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Written by Jim

January 13, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Cookie Tin Guitar

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I’ve made a few more guitars since the last one I posted about in June. One that I completed in December is a cookie tin guitar.


It’s the same general concept as a cigar box guitar, but with a cookie tin as a resonator instead of a box. While I was making it my intention was to try to sell it to help finance another project I want to do, but after I finished and played it, I liked it too much so am not going to part with it. This just reinforces my original feelings that I’d never make these to sell… it takes away some of the fun in making them, actually making it sort of stressful with being concerned over details, and it’s just more fun to do it as a hobby and give them as gifts.

Anyway, this one does have a unique sound to it; it’s a bit more “plucky” and banjo like. Following are some photos and a short video of me playing it at the end.

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Thanks for looking!

Written by Jim

January 2, 2016 at 10:08 am

6 String Cigar Box Guitar

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Since I got into making cigar box guitars one of my goals has been to make a 6 string CBG by re-purposing an electric guitar. Over the winter one of my friends was cleaning out his garage and came across on old electric guitar he had gotten when he was younger. He never really learned to play and it had been collecting dust for years. He asked me if I wanted it and suddenly I had a “donor” guitar. I found a box I liked on ebay ($10! – the most I’ve ever paid for a cigar box) and began working on it.

I worked on it on and off over the winter and spring and only really finished it a couple weeks ago. It was difficult to make, but the biggest reason it took so long was because I didn’t have much time to work on it. Sometimes a couple weeks would pass without me doing anything to it, but towards the end I got some momentum going and was able to finish.

I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out. There are some flaws and mistakes, but it’s playable and sounds okay for what it is. The rest of this post will be pictures and there’s a video of me messing around with it at the very end. Hope you enjoy, thanks for looking!



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To attach the neck I actually cut the guitar body to fit snugly inside the cigar box and glued it in place:


I reused two of the guitars pickups and hardware but replaced the volume pot and pickup switch. Soldering everything together was, uh, interesting… I’m very inexperienced at it and not very good, but it worked in the end and it’s all hidden inside the box, so that’s good enough.


Finally, here’s the video. Remember, I never claimed to be any good!

Written by Jim

June 27, 2015 at 9:57 am