Campfire songs are a great way to spend an evening out. But what if you don't have a guitar or your little ones don't know how to play? The cardboard guitar is a perfect way for kids to get in on the musical act and enjoy themselves with a fun craft! Follow the steps below to create your own instrument from scratch.

What You'll Need 

  1. One small rectangular box
  2. Another piece of flat, sturdy cardboard bigger than your rectangular box
  3. Three rubber bands or some string
  4. Glue (Elmer’s or similar is fine, just make sure it’s strong enough to hold cardboard together)
  5. Scissors
  6. Ruler
  7. Pencil or marker
  8. Long cardboard tube (this could be from a paper towel roll, a wrapping paper roll, etc.)
  9. A circular object like a roll of tape, a bowl, a jar, or a mug. Choose an object that is the size you want your guitar's soundhole to be
  10. Optional: A box cutter or Exacto knife, a piece of paper as big as you want the face of your guitar to be, and acrylic paint and paintbrushes


Make the face of your guitar.

You can freehand cut this shape out of the flat cardboard. Or, if you want to be more exact, take that optional piece of paper and fold it in half. Then, trace half of a guitar shape on one side, and cut it out while folded, to create a perfectly symmetrical guitar shape! You can use this paper as a guide and trace its shape onto your large piece of sturdy cardboard.

Optional: Paint the Guitar.

This isn't necessary, but it's a great option if your kid is extra artsy or you plan on having this guitar around for a little while. Go nuts! Mine is inspired by the Kalamazoo-based acoustic Gibson Guitar, but you can get as creative as you want. Do you like lime green guitars? Done! Want some dinosaurs or a unicorn on it? You betcha!

Make the soundhole of your guitar.

Take your circular object and trace it on the guitar face to make a circle, then cut it out. You can manage with some scissors, but it is easier to cut this with a box cutter or Exacto knife if you have one.

Cut twelve slots in your guitar face for the strings.

Six on top, six on the bottom. Easily done with scissors. Measure these slots to be an equal distance apart and evenly long. Also, make sure that the slots on the top and bottom line up, so the strings are straight when you put them in!

Prepare the guitar body.

Pick one side of your box to open, then cut each of the flaps on that side so that there’s a bit of material left over (for me, that means I’m cutting the flaps on each side of the box to about ½ inch long). If you fold those flaps over again, they should leave a hole in the middle a bit bigger than the soundhole of your guitar face. I glued and stapled mine into that position for extra stability. Then, cut a small x shape into the top of your box, where you want the guitar neck to go.

Shape the guitar head.

Cut two triangular pieces out of the top of the paper tube so that it tapers. Then take some of your leftover cardboard, and cut out a shape to look like the head of a guitar. Slot the cardboard head in-between the tapered sides of the paper tube, and glue it all together. I used clips to keep everything together while the glue dried.

Put it all together!

Apply glue to the short closed flaps of your box, and attach it to the back of the guitar face. Then, put glue on the little flaps of material of the small x in the top of the box, and use it to hold the cardboard tube in place when you push it into the hole!

Let it dry.

This is the hardest part...waiting! I set a heavy book on the top of the guitar to really hold it together while the glue dried.

Put in the strings.

Slot the rubber bands around the notches you cut earlier so that one rubber band makes two strings. If you’re using strings instead of rubber bands, cut a piece of string a little over twice as long as you want it to be on the guitar, and knot it to form a loop. Then slot that loop into the notches, so one loop forms two strings.

Get jammin’!

Use this guitar for the campfire, during road trips, or any time you feel like breaking into song! A hundred bottles of beer on the wall, take one down, pass it around, 99 bottles of beer on the wall…

The inspiration for this tutorial comes from Lorraine, author of the craft blog You can find pictures of her cardboard guitar here!

Thinking of making your own cardboard guitar? Share your results with us on Instagram or Facebook with #mipeninsulas!



Tags: Crafts DIY