Cardboard instruments

We’ve got a stack of cardboard hanging around the house after Christmas so we’ve been making some musical instruments.

We made this really super guitar. The great thing is that it actually sounds pretty good. I’d be lying if I said it was capable of knocking out purple haze but with a bit of fiddling and tuning a simple tune is well within reach.

My son thought it was ace anyway and spent lots of time customizing the outside (the decorating was interspersed with some vigorous twanging!).

The secret to get it to work well is to have the raised bridge – it makes all the difference. I cut a three inch hole in the middle of the box and used six split pins at either end if you fancy having a go. It’s also worth using a fairly strong box so that it doesn’t collapse under tension.

More cardboard instruments coming up soooon!

57 thoughts to “Cardboard instruments”

  1. Love that guitar and can’t wait for the enxt installment! We are still stuck on cooking-pots-and-wooden-spoon instruments in this house!

    Blue Skies
    Charlotte xo

  2. Hi Charlotte…you can’t beat a wooden spoon and pan. Sorted! Love love love your sushi cakes. The pink prawn is pure genius!

  3. What a beautiful website! Your photography is so lovely and your activities are so creative. I am excited to start using your ideas with my own two little ones! Thanks so much for sharing your talent!

  4. As always this is FABULOUS! My daughter would love to make her own instruments we have music time every day and she would be so happy to have a guitar to play like mama. I am so excited to share your site with Oh My! this month- Happy new year!

  5. Happy New Year Kate!
    You clever thing, raising the strings! Who knew? Great idea in general… I recall how much fun music could be When I was little… Hope your munchkins are having a blast!!!

  6. My daughter came home a few days ago and said she wanted to make a guitar. Wish I had seen this then. I’ll start saving boxes in anticipation of your next post.

  7. You have the most adorable site.

    This is just what I have been looking for. My daughter bought her plastic toys guitar out to me last week and said, “It broke. I fix?” I almost cried. She was looking for a button to press on it to make it work. She didn’t realise that you actually had to play it.

    I have since been on a misson to elimate most of the plastic toys from our home and make more things with my two daughters who are 2 and 3 years old. Your site is just perfect and so inspiring. Thank you.

    Love Hannah xx

  8. Hi Yosefa….we keep a stash of boxes, tubes and plastic packaging etc to use in our projects…we always find a use for it at some point 🙂

  9. Hi Hannah – thanks for the lovely comment. Funnily enough we bought a plastic kitchen for the boys once, it broke within a week. I was so angry I set this site up. We do still buy plastic toys but we try to buy second hand – or we stick to the quality bands that will last and that we can pass on.

    Good luck with the guitar building! x

  10. Hi,
    What kind of rubber bands did you use? The normal ones you can buy in the school supply section of the supermarket?
    It looks great, my daughter has been bugging me about wanting a guitar but I really don’t want to spend money on a new noise making thing that she will get bored with in a few days…

  11. Hi Laura,

    Yeah they are just regular rubber bands. I cut them and then tied each end to the split pins. They really did work pretty well! 🙂

  12. Just stumbled my way across your website and am loving your creativity. I’d like to make the guitar for my daughter. What were the strings made from? colored rubber bands??? Thanks for sharing, Cyndi

  13. Hi, one more stupid question. Are the rubber bands strained or loose? 🙂 I hope I make my point, English is not my native language, so sometimes I wonder if I’m getting across to people. Thanx a lot!

  14. Hi Laura…not a stupid question at all. I understand perfectly 😉

    As tight as you can for high notes and looser for low notes. The tighter they are the better the sound. That’s why you need to use a fairly strong box.

    Good luck, let me know how it goes.

  15. Once I came over to Cardboard instruments | Mini-eco I can only see part of it, is this my internet browser or the web web site? Should I restart? Cheers Raja Hines

    1. Raja Hines….. I think it may your internet browser, you may need to try to start your device or open this in a new browser or tab

      Blue Skies,
      Emily Hanchest

  16. Hi, I love this idea- it reminds me of when I was little and had a box of household items for crafts. I am not sure if it is my being American or ignorant (or both!), but what are split pins?? And is the bridge a piece of the box or just cardboard? Thank you!

  17. Hi Kristen…check out wikipedia for an picture of some split pins….you can buy them in most craft stores and they are really useful for a lot of craft projects.

    A bridge is just a raised piece of cardboard that is stuck onto the box…you can see it most clearly in the last picture

    good luck x

    1. Hi Hugo, you need a strong cardboard box, six elastic bands, 12 split pins, scissors/craft knife, ruler, double sided tape (to attach the bridge to the box), compass to draw the circle….erm that’s about it.

      Let me know how you get on ^_^

  18. What awesome ideas, thanks for that! Because I’m currently really bored! The cardboard guitar looks cool, funky – and, of course, super-colourful! Could you make it with a tissue box?
    I suppose so because there’s a hole in a tissue box so that the sound could reverberate…

  19. Just to make sure…are those standard brads & rubberbands? Super cute, daughter has to make a 100th day of school instrument & she chose a guitar. I guess it will have to have 100 stickers or something on it, but we are going to try it out! thanks!

  20. I love this craft idea! Super Creative! My son, Jacob, tried this out…He failed so many times XD! I enjoy all the decorative items!

  21. This was extremely helpful! My daughter has a school project where she has to make a musical instrument and this awesome instrument helped her find an idea to make one! This is extremely creative and inspiring and is just so great! 🙂

  22. I love love love this idea. For 7th grade, we have to make an instrument and this is perfect!!

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