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Build a Cigar Box Distortion Unit With This Easy Hack

Build a Cigar Box Distortion Unit With This Easy Hack

Last year, C. B. Gitty introduced the Psycho Knob internal distortion, an easy-to-install circuit that added fuzz effects inside your guitar. 

Now Shane Speal shows you how to hack the kit to become a standalone unit that can be used on all your electric guitars!

Hear the Demo

What you'll need

(Click each picture to purchase the item)

Psycho Knob Distortion Kit

1/4-inch guitar jacks

Small cigar box

External battery tray

Skull sound hole cover

Hack the Kit

C. B. Gitty Psycho Knob ready to be installed

1. Wire Jacks to the Circuit Board

Instead of installing the Psycho Knob inside a guitar cavity, simply wire a 1/4" jack to the IN lead and another 1/4" jack to the OUT lead (see above).

View of installed C. B. Gitty Psycho Knob from inside the cigar box

2. Install the Circuit Board in a Cigar Box

Find the smallest cigar box you have.

Drill holes for the jacks and the Psycho Knob.

Then, mount the components inside the box.

The photo above shows the optional battery compartment (details below).

Input and output jacks for the C. B. Gitty Psycho Knob marked on the cigar box exterior

3. Identify the Input & Output Jacks

In order not to mix up the signal chain, mark the IN jack as "GUITAR" and the OUT jack as "AMP."

View of the external-mount battery tray

4. Optional (and seriously awesome) steps: 

Install an external battery compartment as shown in the example

Do these steps before installing any of the parts into the cigar box.

  1. Drill holes for the Psycho Knob and guitar jacks, and route out an area of the cigar box for the external battery compartment. We suggest the bottom of the box since the 9v battery will add some weight and act as a weighted base.  
  2. Mount the unwired battery compartment to the box.  
  3. Cut off the battery terminal connector on the Psycho Knob Kit and solder the +/- wires to the compartment.

Install a skull faceplate behind the volume control

The C. B. Gitty Skull Sound Hole Covers are an excellent addition to the cigar box distortion unit. 

To use one on your box:

  1. Center the skull nose hole over the hole you drill for the knob selector switch. 
  2. Fasten the skull in place with wood glue or another appropriate adhesive. 
  3. Install a knob such as the chickenhead knob used in this project. 


In this post, you learned how to install a C. B. Gitty Psycho Knob into a stand-alone unit.

This way, instead of installing a Psycho Knob directly into on cigar box guitar, you can have a distortion box to use for all of your CBGs and other electrified instruments.

All you need for this project is

Want Another Way to Add Distortion to Your Sound?

After countless gigs and constant abuse (including throwing the guitar across stage at the end of gigs), Shane Speal brought this CBG back to life with parts including the Psycho Knob Distortion board.

Read the post below for another way to add distortion to your CBG sound.

Dead Cigar Box Guitar Given "Frankenstein" Life with C. B. Gitty Parts, Psycho Knob

Dead Cigar Box Guitar Given "Frankenstein" Life with C. B. Gitty Parts, Psycho Knob

2nd Mar 2017 Shane Speal

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