Skip to content

Adeeb Syed

Cigar Box Amplifier

inside of a cigar box amplifier

Table of Contents


Project Description: A DIY 9V battery-powered amplifier created from a 1960s cigar box (found in a thrift store).
Context: Personal project (2020)
Technologies: Hand tools, laser cutter, inkscape, 2.5 watt amplifier kit parts and accessories from C.B. Gitty
Project Duration: 3 days


Technical Challenges

The only real challenge was tweaking the laser cutter’s settings to cut through the cigar box without burning the old and fragile wood material of the box itself:

perfect cut out of cigar box cover


Technical Reflection

Although this is a relatively simple device, I am a bit embarrassed to admit I had no idea how amplifiers actually worked.  The cigar box guitar I worked on helped me realize how little I knew about the inner workings of instruments, so I figured I could learn more about amplifiers through this project.

I learned quite a bit about sound, how amplifiers/speakers work, and how not to solder something.  Also, potentiometers are a really neat invention — simple but extremely useful for a variety of purposes and found in many everyday objects.

Personal Reflection

All in all, this was a relatively easy project. Yet, I was constantly worried about damaging the delicate box somehow.  I am not sure who made the box and how it ended up in a thrift store in Cambridge, MA, but it is strangely satisfying to have added some value/utility to an object that was created almost 30 years before I was born for an entirely different purpose. 

Future Work

I will likely 3D print some modifications, such as a new hinge and a new potentiometer knob. 

 Additionally, I will likely build another one from scratch… 

…one that goes to 11, of course:

spinal tap gif

More Media