How to Build a Cigar Box Banjo (Published 1884)

Updated: Sep 15, 2020


(Pictured: 5-string cigar box banjo, circa 2005. Unknown builder. The design is similar to the banjo plans featured here.)


Shane's note: I've tried many different strings for fretless cigar box banjos. For an authentic 1800's banjo sound, I recommend Aquila Minstrel Banjo Strings. They give the spooky baritone sound of the original instruments. (The link below is an affiliate link which supports this website.)


Cigar Box Banjo Plans by Daniel Carter Beard  

Known by many as the "Uncle Enos Banjo Plans," these instructions for a 5-string cigar box guitar banjo were originally published within the story Christmas Eve with Uncle Enos in newspapers in the early 1884. These plans would eventually be published in Beard’s American Boys Handy Book.

1. CUT OUT NECK/FRETBOARD

FIGURE 1 – CIGAR BOX

FIGURE 2 – FRET BOARD / HEADSTOCK

Fig. No. 1 shows the cigar-box, with holes bored through the ends for the stick, that supports the neck, to pass through. The bottom of the box is used for the top to the banjo. The lid of the box may be left on, so that it can be closed or opened, as the taste or ear of the banjoist may direct.

Fig. No. 2 represents a pine board with a plan of the neck drawn upon it, ready to be sawed out.

</