Scot Hacker's avatar image

Build a cigar box ukulele

From Scot Hacker's bucketlist

Add Like 31
  • 31 are doing this
  • 2 have completed this

I like to strum a little ukulele (Hawaiians pronounce it "ooh-ke-leh-leh") every now and then. Such a happy sound - you can play the saddest song in the world and it'll still sound cheerful when played on the uke.

The kit

A while ago I found this company called Papa's Boxes, who sell DIY ukulele and banjo kits, using cigar boxes for the instrument body. Dear wife got me one for Christmas, and I got a good start on putting it together, then winter set in. Couldn't varnish the box in the cold and wet, so had to wait for spring. 

Halfway there 

Finally finished the build in December 2010  - nearly a year later! Unfortunately the sound quality isn't nearly as good as a proper uke, but it's awesome to behold, and fun as a second instrument. Here are some pics from the build, and a video showing  how it sounds (comparison between finished cigar box and a professionally built koa wood uke from Hawaii). The slideshow includes all pics from the build.


Hole saw 

Strung up 



Complete Flickr set:

And here's the video comparing sound of the cigar box to a "real" uke:

my video

Here's another guy's cigar box uke (actually, his does sound pretty good!). The fact that both of us demo on Sam Cooke songs is 100% coincidental, promise!


Added on June 1, 2010

Completed on January 29, 2011

Tags: Diy Music Ukulele


John Hacker on Jan 31, 2011

Hey hey....nice job on the build and with the playing. I def. like the sound of the Koa wood of course, but very cool nonetheless! Mohalo!

Scot Hacker on Jan 31, 2011

Thanks John. Next time I do a little vid like this I'll use a proper camera and mic rather than the computer - the difference between the two sounds is way more dramatic IRL. Mahalo to you too!

You must be logged in to leave comments.

See how others are doing it

Build a cigar box ukulele

Tristan Nelson  December 13, 2011


Did you like this story? Like

Build a cigar box ukulele

Matthew Yanek  June 1, 2012

Seems like such an amazing thing, such a refreshing sound!

Did you like this story? Like

Learn more