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!


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41 Comments Leave yours

  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. Kate #

    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. Kate #

    Hi Shauna….no need to say thanks…I love doing my blog so it’s no effort….come back soon!

  5. 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!

  6. Kate #

    Thanks Jessika – looking forward to it very much too. Happy strumming! :-)

  7. Great attention to detail, the tip about the bridge is super helpful. I really like the colors and the fab photos.

  8. P.S. – how exciting to hear you’ll be at another of my favorites, Oh My Handmade :)

  9. I’m really enjoying your blog. You create the sweetest things! Seriously, the colours on the strings & even the paper inside is darling. Well done :)

  10. Love this guitar Kate. You’re amazing!

  11. Kate #

    Thanks Steph, Sarah and Jenny….I’m blushing a little….glad you like.

  12. That is a wonderful idea. I found you via Mummy do that.

  13. 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!!!

  14. 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.

  15. Hannah Trost #

    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

  16. Kate #

    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 :)

  17. Kate #

    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

  18. 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…

  19. Kate #

    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! :)

  20. Kristi #

    I stumbled on this blog and I am so inspired by it! Thanks for showing us such great ideas.

  21. Kate #

    Thanks Kristi :)

  22. 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

  23. Kate #

    Hi Cyndi – yep just regular elastic bands. Have fun!

  24. 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!

  25. Kate #

    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.

  26. 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

  27. Kristen #

    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!

  28. Kate #

    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

  29. Lady Gaga #


  30. excellent post, I’m a guitar student myself

  31. Michelle Mosterd #

    Nice, but I wonder if 8 year old Zoe would like it too:

  32. What a cool cool idea. and so simple. thx!

  33. Hello, a friend and I want to make one of these for a class project…what is the list of exact materials we’ll need? Thanks!

  34. Hello, a friend and I want to make one of these for a class project…what exact materials do we all need? Thanks!

    • Kate #

      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 ^_^

  35. milly #

    hey does this make 5 or more notes ? x

  36. aquino #

    it’ so verry fun playing this guitar

  37. Thanks for this great idea! I loved it so much that I featured it on my blog!! And, my son has had so much fun playing with it.

  38. 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…

  39. Carmen #

    This page is amazing. Beauty, simple and creative

  40. Happy Soph #

    Supes cool! Easy and creative! ;-)

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