View Full Version : Missing Advice

10-14-2017, 04:31 AM
I spent weeks making my first cigar box ukulele. It's beautiful, with the neck carved from a block of mahogany and an attractive cigar box and brass accents.

Unfortunately, the sound is so muffled that I could practice anywhere without disturbing anyone. The box I used has six sides. Five of them are beautiful cedar. The top is thick cardboard, and it does not vibrate enough to amplify the sound. It wasn't until I cut the sound holes that I realized I had a cardboard ukulele.

At this point, trying to replace the top would be a waste of time, so lesson learned. For my next build, I'm going to make the box myself.

I met a guy at a uke fest who made several cigar box ukes, and he said that a wooden top is essential. He later told me that he found a local cigar store (in PA) with lots of good boxes for $1.00 each. He bought seventeen. When I went the next day, there was slim pickings. I guess he got the seventeen best, but I did find two for future projects.

I spent hours looking online for articles about building a cigar box ukulele, and not once did I see any mention of the importance of a wooden top. Now I know!


Pete Howlett
10-14-2017, 05:07 AM
Anyone want to state the obvious?

10-14-2017, 05:08 AM
...I spent hours looking online for articles about building a cigar box ukulele, and not once did I see any mention of the importance of a wooden top. Now I know!...

Have you seen the forums over at Cigar Box Nation? Tons of build logs, guides, and other info:


"Cigar Box Nation" is the 1st search result on Google and considered the motherlode of info on CBG's.

Also, tons of parts, kits etc, all at reasonable prices are available from CB Gitty:


and Glenn Watt and Shane Speal have lots of CBG building videos on YT (some going back more then 5 yrs):



Not sure if you have access to YT, but "spending hours looking" seems like you overlooked something as there is low-hanging fruit in the above resources, as well as a lot more to be have from the resources below.

Check out Dennis Havlena, who has MANY home-grown and CBG style projects:



as well as fellow UU brother Daniel Hulbert:



Croaky Keith
10-14-2017, 05:37 AM
This one might interest you too. - https://circuitsandstrings.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/building-a-travel-ukulele/

10-14-2017, 05:51 AM
The sides and back of the boxes are pretty much plywood with only a thin layer of 'show' wood with mainly filler. Not that it is that bad for a CBG (CBU), I used the back side of the box for the top of my first instrument and the lid as the back. I made a quick CBU as something I wanted to leave at work, I cut off the lid and put an orphan guitar spruce top on it. For what it is it doesn't sound half bad. You need to put some linings along the edges and the top will probably be less thick than the lid it replaced so the front forward and back edge will sit a little proud. As just a functional instrument I just trimmed the back where my hand rests and rounded off the corner. I also placed my bridge closer to the centre to have the top vibrate more.


I opened your pictures as another tab and forgot to look at it untill I was closing things up. Are you sure you want to put the sound hole cover in the middle of the top where we otherwise would get the most vibrations from?

10-14-2017, 05:55 AM
I'm no builder, but couldn't you just take it apart, reuse the other parts, and replace the body with a quality all-wood box? I know, easy for me to say....

10-17-2017, 08:31 AM
Don't use this for a cigar box uke ;)