Cigar Box Guitars: One PBS SoCal staffer’s adventure in #upcycling

Last week we put out a call to PBS SoCal staff: “What’s an interesting way you reuse everyday objects?”

We expected some run-of-the-mill responses—of which we received a few—but one staff member really outdid us all.

Todd Markel, our Traffic and Content Operations Specialist reuses old cigar boxes … TO MAKE GUITARS!

Todd describes himself as a “long time music lover”—an amateur musician who’s dabbled in concert reviews and photography, and more recently served as his son’s band’s driver while they were on a tour. Todd recalls seeing Johnny Depp and Paul McCartney playing cigar box guitars on television. Todd bought a couple cigar boxes at a smoke shop and gave it a go.

Here’s what Todd told about the process:

I found some groups on Facebook and connected with other people currently making them and I downloaded some plans, instructions and received encouragement. Since the body of the guitar is much smaller there isn’t as much volume or bottom end as you would find on normal guitar. I’ve included Piezo pickups on most of my guitars to aid in the amplification of the instrument. These types of guitars are usually better suited to slide or bottle neck guitar style of playing. My favorite is the Padron cigar box guitar which was actually my first build.

Since starting this hobby, Todd has sold three of his guitars, and given two away to some of his favorite performers: Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals and Fat Mike of NOFX.

Todd was kind enough to share a couple photos taken during his builds and as well as a photo of him giving Warren Fitzgerald his guitar.