Cigar Box Guitar

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by Bowser, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    I've read that +/- .020" is acceptable. This project is a slide guitar, so I won't be hitting those notes precisely. If I were to fret the instrument, I would definitely make it on point. There's a website that will calculate your frets depending on the length of the scale.
    http://www.ekips.org/tools/guitar/fretfind2d/
     
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    To what notes are you tuning the strings? An open tuning of some type I presume?
     
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  5. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    GDG But there are other possibilities.
     
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I would think GBD (G major) or any major chord if you are using it for slide.

    It would also be interesting to set it up as someone mentioned (I think) with droning strings like of like a banjo.
     
  8. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    Well, this is my first. I'm happy with what came of it, so much so that I'm building two more for family and friend. I have a really nice box sitting aside that I'm saving for my final project--I'm thinking frets and pickup. Alternative tuning has certainly opened door to new possibilities. I can say that I've definitely gained a new appreciation for my acoustic guitar after this deviation,
     
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  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Guy I knew built a few of those, used to set it up with the lid opening the back - so he could add some light bracing to the top as needed or wanted, and get at the inside with the strings on for pickups and such.

    He used to use double stick tape to find the right place for the braces, and then glue 'em in. Sound hole(s) in the side, facing the player's face (no holes in the front).

    ymmv
     
  10. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    I haven't noticed any warping on the neck or box with this first one. I didn't seal the box in case someone needed to get into it at a later date. If and when I built my electric, I will be pressed to keep the internals accessible. The box I have in mind is rather hefty, so I'm not concerned about its structural integrity.
     
  11. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    I have a bunch of salad bowls I want to make banjos out of. Until then I bought another one from Zither Heaven.
     
  12. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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  13. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    This one is different in that it has real friction tuners, but the previous ones have been reviewed, they use metal pegs like piano tuners that need a special tool. I like to improvise while watching TV and my real banjo (a Deering Vega Old Tyme Wonder) is too loud and big.
     
  14. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    Would like to hear you play. You should post a recording. Sounds as though you are very good.
     
  15. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    I'm just a beginner. Been playing for about 2-3 years. Self taught. I only know two songs, but I'm trying to branch out and learn all the standard old time tunes. I did study classical guitar for a couple years from my piano teacher, who played cello, piano and guitar. Also took piano lessons for 7 years. I like to read tab, which makes way more sense than classical notation.
     
  16. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    I started building two more CBG's. I found it pretty easy after building the first (now I know what to do to make them great.) I thought I would fret these and had to buy a razor saw to do so. Also, I'm adding piezo pickups to these.

     
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The bracing was for tone control - he's a pro builder, and he got interested in getting volume and tone from a cigar box, amplifying one well, etc. At one point he was drilling lines of little holes near the edge in places to "free up" the top. Yeah, not exactly in the spirit of the thing, he was laughing at himself, but he had some success. It involved - iirc - "rounding off" the resonant surface by separating small sections of the corners of the box using glued bits of wood underneath, careful placement of pickups, etc. And with the back open he could try stuff.
     
  18. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    I am surprised by the resonance of the box of the first one I built. About the only alteration I've made is removing 1/16" from the portion of neck that goes through the box, so the neck doesn't touch the underside of the lid, freeing the box to vibrate. I suppose a person could experiment with the resonance by placing stints inside the box.
     
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    That makes sense. Both my old and new wooden top banjos have the same feature.
     
  20. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    Does the neck of the banjo feed through the body? I've never actually held one in my hands.
     
  21. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, the stress of the strings needs to be resisted by the neck, not the pot or body, which only takes the downward force of the bridge (and the tension of the head). Old versions use an extension of the neck, like a stick. Newer ones use either a single or double threaded rod, so you can adjust the neck angle.

    I posted a review of my new toy banjo on Amazon. It's fun, and a real instrument, not so much a toy, it's just small. Which makes me want to explore the possibility of a high quality version with planetary tuners and a skin head.
     
  22. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    So it's becoming a hobby. I just made a deal with a local gentleman who will trade some guitar parts for one of my CBG's. Apparently he was once a luthier and has a box of items that he wants to trade.
     
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    According to my source here - sorry to be dealing second hand, but I was commissioning a guitar from the guy and drawing him out on his approach in general - one gets maximum total resonance from the maximally free top, and all bracing etc for tone is a process of subtraction and focus. With a banjo the need for volume predominates, so one usually wouldn't mess with the top, but he is a guitar builder by preference and by profession - can't help himself.

    The whole guitar thing started as a hobby for him as well. Be warned. Your bridge, for example - there are a few simple improvements possible, in character, no big deal, just some investigation re shape and contact and placement and material and string compensation and - - - -
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015

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