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The Oil-Can Guitar has its origin in the townships of Johannisburg. Children from the street built a guitar out of an old tin can or an old oil can. A real eye-catcher on every stage.
What is needed for an oil can guitar?
Of course an old tin can. Maybe there is still a home standing around or you can find it at a flea market or on an online platform. I bought two for the first time. In the beginning something usually goes wrong.

harley davidson garageHarley davidson Pre-Luxe

Afterwards I thought about the body and what should be built in there so everything. I collected all the components and put them on paper in the drawing program.
As neck I use a customary ready bundled neck in Ibanez style. Then 2 humbuckers with a 3-way switch and the usual tone and volume potentiometers and of course the mono jack socket 6.35mm should be installed. You can find all the parts in the shop

Adjustments Box:

At the bottom of the box I will mount 4 small feet to protect the box a bit. Since the tin can is very unstable, I put an additional aluminum plate on the floor so that I can fasten the feet, through the tin, on the aluminum plate.

Oil Can fussmontage  Oil Can fuesse

6.35mm Mono jack socket:

Since I'm just on the box, I install the 6.35mm jack socket. Also here I insert an aluminium plate behind the socket so that the socket is reinforced a little bit.

Oil Can Bohrung Buchse  Oil Can Klinkenbuchse

Jack socket completely installed

Oil Can Buchse eingebaut

3-Way Switch:

The 3-way switch is required for pickup switching Pickup Neck - both - Pickup Bridge. So you can switch between the two humbuckers. It is best to first glue a painter's masking tape onto the box so that the cut-out and the holes can be drawn in well. I mill out the cutout for the 3-way switch with the help of the Dremel. Then the holes for the fixing screws can be drilled. The masking tape can now be removed again and the switch provisionally mounted. For the wiring and the soldering of the pickup cables to the switch you will have to solder it outside the box.

Oil Can 3 weg schalter  3 Weg Schalter eingebaut

The Body:

The tin can is very unstable. Therefore I decided to fit a board behind the can wall on the whole side. I don't like surprises during the assembly, so I thought about it a little bit. The scale is the most important thing to keep. So I drew everything on the computer in original size. Then the first printout and put it on the box and checked the scale. Then I drew the cut-outs and fixing holes for the pickup. Finally the holes for the volume and tone potentiometers. Since I am currently drawing, there is a second version with single-coil and humbucker.

Body Oel Can Guitar  Oil Can Guitar Body single coil Humbucker

The drawing will then be glued to the wood. The Pritt glue is ideal for this purpose. Its adhesion is so excellent that the paper can simply be pulled down from the wood after the saws. The cutouts for the pickups are now sawn out with a decupier saw. I leave out the holes for the bridge and the tailpiece. I will drill this directly through the box

Oil Can Ausschnitt Pickup  Oil Can Ausschnitt Pickup anpassen  Oil Can Pickup einpassen

For the attachment of the neck to the box a traverse is needed. I used a maple strip for this. This is adapted to the width of the neck at the front. This traverse runs through the whole box.

Traverse Hals

Now the traverse is screwed to the body. Make sure that the screws are not placed where the holes for the bridge have to be drilled.

Oil Can Bode halsbefestigung

Check the scale in between.

Oil Can Kontrolle Mensur

Body and tin can are united:

Fit the body with the neck traverse into the box. In the corners of the tin can the body has to be adjusted a bit. Round off the corners with the rasp and file and adjust to the box.

Oil Can Body eingepasst

Now the can lid can be adapted to the neck traverse

Oil Can Ausschnitt Deckel

Once the body has been placed in the tin can, the cut-outs for the pickups can be cut out of the can. The Dremel is the best choice.
Transfer the centre of the cut-out from the plan to the box. Then process the tin can accordingly.

Oil Can Pickup ausfraesen

Now the pickups can be installed and screwed together.

Oil Can Pickup eingepasst


Oil Can mit Hals  Built-in potentiometer

I don't want to go further into the installation of the potentiometers and the wiring. I have a separate wiring section where this is described in detail.
Now the holes for the neck can be marked and drilled.

Oil Can Bohrung hals

Mounting Bridge and Tailpiece:

Before the holes for the bridge and tailpiece are drilled, the bore must be checked again. It is best to glue a painter's tape onto the box and draw in the length of the scale.
The plan can then be adapted again to the scale and attached to the box with adhesive tape. Now drill the holes for the sleeves with a suitable drill bit.
The Scale section deals specifically with the scale and bar placement and can be read there.

Oil Can Bridge Tailpiece

Afterwards the strings are pulled up and the Oil-Can guitar can be tuned. If you need help for this you can read it in the section Tuning.

the finish Oil-Can Guitar:

Oil Can Guitar fertig  Oil Can nahe

If you are interested in rebuilding the Oil-Can guitar, you can easily order the components in our shop. To make sure you don't forget anything, the best thing to do is to put the guitar together in our configurator.
Have fun with the replica...