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How to Make Your Acoustic Cigar Box Guitar Louder with a Resonator

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Have you ever noticed the wooden back piece of a conventional banjo. These are called resonators and their job is to keep the sound vibrations from being absorbed by your body. The ends of the resonator extend beyond the body and provide a hard surface for the sound to be reflected back to your audience via the sound holes in the flange. Put simply, a resonator banjo is going to be louder and brighter.

Pittsburgh old time musician, Louie LaManna (Facebook link) pondered if the same concept could work on cigar box guitars. He built this Brick House guitar using a salvaged tenor banjo neck and two different cigar boxes.

Note the bottom of the red Brick House box has been removed and a wider box bottom has been added, using Ace Hardware inside corner bridges.

LaManna says that the 1 1/2" braces with two holes per side work best. The position of the brace's top hole allows for mounting to the body box at least 1/2" away from the bottom of the resonator box.

LaManna opted to use bolts to mount everything and saved the enclosed screws for another project.

A big thanks to Louie LaManna for the guitar and the willingness to share his building secrets. This instrument is proudly displayed at the Cigar Box Guitar Museum inside Speal's Tavern.

Demo video:


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