Shane Speal's Cigar Box Guitar Building "Tricks & Hacks"

Shane Speal's Cigar Box Guitar Building "Tricks & Hacks"

Want to build better cigar box guitars? Looking for some solid advice on how to build CBGs that sell?

In this post, we have three short videos from Shane Speal with insanely useful tricks and hacks to build your best cigar box guitars. 

After each video is a step-by-step breakdown done in pictures of Shane's years of hard-won advice. 

Insanely Useful Tricks & Hacks

Here's just some of of the CBG-building tricks you'll learn in this post:

  • How to quickly and efficiently repair trim on paper-covered cigar boxes
  • How to use box handles and a centering ruler to take your build from plain to insane
  • How neck collars will give your CBGs the ultimate look to sell 

So, let's get crackin'! 

Scroll down to learn all the tricks and hacks listed above, and more, from the King of the Cigar Box Guitar, Shane Speal.

Repair Paper Trim On Cigar Boxes

Watch the Video

Watch how Shane repairs trim on paper-covered cigar boxes in this video:

See the Pics

See how Shane repairs trim on paper-covered cigar boxes in step-by-step pictures:

"Have you ever worked with a cigar box that the trim started to come off?

I hate this."

Shane Speal hates trim peeling from paper-covered cigar boxes

"I hate this and I’ve used a glue gun, and I’ve used wood glue, and different things.

Well, I have found the best thing for repairing trim on paper-covered boxes.

And that’s one of these scrapbooking glue rollers."

Shane Speal uses a glue roller to repair trim on paper-covered cigar boxes

"And these are used, you just roll it and it puts a line of sticky tape, double-sided sticky tape wherever it goes.

And so if you take your time [...] and what I want to do is gently run this glue roller right where this trim goes."

Take your time with the glue roller

"You don’t want to go past the trim because then it’ll be sticky.

There’s to be a little bit of a sticky part hanging out.

So I’ve got that there. And then we just want to slowly put the paper over that new adhesive."

Slowly re-apply the paper trim onto the adhesive

"And there we go.

It’s perfect. It’s not going to go anywhere." 

Bridge Covers, Center Rulers & Rod Piezo Secrets

Watch the Video

Watch how Shane uses a centering ruler and a box handle to turn a plain cigar box guitar into a work of art. Plus, get a secret rod piezo trick, too:

See the Pics

See how Shane turns this cigar box guitar into a work of art in these step-by-step pictures:

"This guitar is mostly done."

Shane Speal knows there's something missing from this cigar box guitar

[...] "It’s mostly done but quite honestly there was just something missing from it.

I really love the look with the old Arturo Fuente box. It does have the pre-cut F-holes."


"And I like the look. I have the cool corners, the square corners."

Shane Speal uses cool, square corners on his CBGs


"But it’s… there’s something missing from this.

And what I think it is, is that the bridge, which is an old bolt, just seems kind of plain."

Shane Speal thinks this CBG looks plain

"And what I want to do is, I want to add a bridge cover to it.

And what I use for a bridge cover are these.

This is a colonial box handle, and C. B. Gitty sells these as well."

Shane Speal uses a box handle for a clean look

"And I want to put it on here, and to give it a nice, clean finish to it.

Just, that’s what’s going to make this think over-the-top.

But I need to put this on the box, and I need to center it correctly."

Shane Speal centers a box handle over the CBG bridge

"So, I wanted to show you how I put these on the box.

Now, I’ve already pre-drilled. I’ve kind of had it half-done already, so I can make it quicker for you.

But what I did was, this needs to be [...] centered on the box.

I don’t want it sideways or off-center, or it’ll look goofy.

So, how do I do this?

I use this. This is a center rule, a centering ruler from C. B. Gitty."

Shane Speal uses a C. B. Gitty centering ruler

"And it’s really tough to tell with the camera, but what it does is, it has a center-line here.

And then going outward, it has one centimeter on each side, two centimeters, three, four, five, and six.

It keeps going the whole way out.

The idea is, if you put this on a box, and you look at the end here, and you look at the end here, if you match up, [...] then I know that I am center."

Shane Speal describes how to use a C. B. Gitty centering ruler

"That this is nice and center.

And what I did before I started filming was I took the box handle and I put it where it needed to go, made sure it was center and [...] where the handle touches the rule, I made sure that it was perfectly centered on each side."

Shane Speal centers a box handle over a cigar box guitar bridge


"And so I put it there and I drilled some pilot holes, and I’m just going to put this in place.

Now, one thing you always need to prepare for is, I know that these screws to hold in the handles are kind of long."

Shane Speal says this handle has long mounting screws

"I have a pre-amp here and I want to make sure that that screw does not drill into the pre-amp."

Shane Speal warns to beware of a long box handle screw piercing a cigar box guitar pre-amp

"So for one of them, I just cut it short.

I just took a little pair of snips and I cut that short."

Shane Speal cuts the box handle mounting screw

"So, I’m gonna put this handle on here and this guitar will be done.

I got my trusty little electric screwdriver.

Where’s my pre-drilled holes? Here they are!"


"These bridge covers are not necessary and quite honestly some players don’t like them because they like to palm-mute the bridge.

However, there’s times when I’m building a cigar box guitar that I like for the entire piece to be almost like a piece of art.

So, these box handles add a great finish to it."

Shane Speal displays a box handle centered on a cigar box guitar

"So, there we are. We have a nice, finished cigar box guitar."


"(In this guitar) I have a piezo rod pickup and the way I installed it was… you know how the neck goes through the box here?

Whenever I made the neck through the box… that piezo rod… I put a little groove right where the bridge is and I glued the piezo rod between the bridge and the top of the box."

Shane Speal shows how where to install a rod piezo in a neck-through cigar box guitar

"And that’s it. So, this guitar here is done."

Shane Speal proudly holds his finished CBG

Additional Resources:

Products Used:

Details Sell Guitars

Watch the Video

Check out this video in which Shane talks about the details that help sell a guitar:

See the Pics

Here are step-by-step pictures of Shane talking about the little things that sell cigar box guitars:

"I love corners.

Corners really clean up the look, especially on paper-covered boxes because you have those chipping sides of the paper."

Shane Speal loves box corners for his CBGs

"You know, even when you’re playing but also for you guys that are selling cigar box guitars, aesthetics are very important.

You know, you gotta make a guitar that plays good and get yourself together and make sure you’re making an axe that plays exceptionally well."

Shane Speal advises to make cigar box guitar that play well to sell

"However, it’s those extra things you do, the little corners, putting that bridge cover on the other guitar (above).

Things like that help sell the guitar, so it’s important.

One of the things is always a pet peeve to me [...] is anytime I cut for the neck in here, there’s always a little bit of room here. 

Sometimes the cuts aren’t perfect."

Shane Speal points out that some cuts aren't perfect on cigar box guitars

"So, what I’ve come up with and what we’ve developed with C. B. Gitty are these things, and they’re called neck collars."

Shane Speal holds a C. B. Gitty neck collar

"Now mine, I had the very first ones made so Gitty put my name on them.

But he sells plain ones, and that’s all you need is a plain one.

And it’s just a little piece of plywood that fits perfectly on a 1 by 2 neck, and it goes like this.

And it adds just a nice clean edge to everything you’re doing."

Shane Speal demonstrates how a C. B. Gitty neck collar is installed

Check out various C. B. Gitty neck collars linked below:


So there you have it. 

With those 3 quick videos and descriptive step-by-step pictures, you've learned some of Shane's tricks on how to make your best cigar box guitars. 

Those tips include:

  • What it takes to repair trim on paper-covered cigar boxes
  • Several ways to dress up your builds to make 'em sell
  • And what tool to use to keep your CBGs looking professional 

Which of Shane's tricks will you use first?

17th Jun 2019 Glenn Watt

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