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Further, Handy could not play jazz, Morton said, as he was unable to execute "plenty of figure work in the groove ability, great improvisations, accurate, exciting tempos with a kick" - from Alan Lomax, The Man Who Recorded the World, by John Szwed

Author Topic: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?  (Read 2672 times)

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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« on: September 18, 2012, 06:42:26 AM »
I finished my first effort a couple of weeks back.  Made it small for my son.  3 strings, not very loud at all (small box, and thick lid) but he thinks its great along with the donated slide and plectrum!

I'm now trying to put what I learnt into practice for a bigger better one...  If it turns out okay Ill have to figure out a song on it and post it on the back porch some time.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2012, 07:16:43 AM »
Daddy Stovepipe seems to be an expert in these matters... maybe you could PM him?

Offline BottleneckJohn

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 10:47:51 AM »
Yes, do finish your new one and post some clips! It's truly a remarkable instrument, so freakin' simple and complicated at the same time, haha!  :D

I've got a single stringer, a diddley-bow, as simple as it can be with the neck stick and a couple of bolts for bridge and nut.. Check it out here:

http://www.bottleneckjohn.com/CBG.htm

Good luck with yours!!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 10:49:57 AM by BottleneckJohn »
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Offline frailer24

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 02:34:10 AM »
Made one years ago out of 2 boxes glued together, 6 strings. Gave it to my cousin when he got ill. Lot o' fun!
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline nobocaster

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 01:52:14 PM »
  I've made a handful of cigar box ukes over the years.  I like to find boxes that are made of solid wood instead of ply.  I think they sound way better (and louder).  There's some nice boxes out there that are made from nice quarter-sawn cedar type wood.. very similar to what you'd use for a "real" instrument top. 

  Have fun with it!
  Devin

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 09:39:07 AM »
I'm about ready to start building, got a nice box & going with a mate to score some neck timber & wood stain etc. on Friday.
Any advice regarding frets and scale length would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm considering the possibilities of some kind of pick-up, any thoughts?
I'm going to build a three stringed instrument, as cheaply as possible.
This little project has really got my enthusiasm fired up.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 01:16:47 PM »
Ive knocked up 4 now- 2 simple things for the kids, one bad one for me- and one half decent one im pleased with, which my dad is going to get for Christmas. 

3 strings is good.  Cigar Box Nation is the site to visit. 

Many are made fretless, but ive done half decent frets on one.  Problem is action- as the standard neck through method makes it difficult to get playable frets which are well intonated higher up the  neck.

Lots of these seem to be made almost baritone scale - using 3/4/5th strings from a normal guitar.

I think you just have to make the neck which suits you and fits the box, and then figure out the scale length which works with it.  Ive not fussed about it- and then just used an online calculator for the scale length it turns out to be once its built!

As for pickups- lots of stuff on CB nation- but I put 2 piezo discs (about 60p each from maplin or ebay) in parallel, and it works fine.  Seems the trick is to insulate them to avoid them being too sensitive and feeding back.  I used a hot glue gun and covered them in a good layer of plastic  before attaching them to the box.  Seems to work.

Sooner or late Ill figure out a song on 3 string and post it on the back porch.  Maybe a video to show the guitar!

Currently building a resonator Cigar Box guitar.  Guy in the states makes cones specially for $25- Should end up looking a bit like this:

http://api.ning.com/files/YOcEglVQyC6Yi3UFeX7t5RAk1HrzgsxxdOwaCoFD6Vv7I3l8umRSFoxh0P1X8zD2/P1010366.JPG?width=450&height=600

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 03:01:06 PM »
Cheers, Slim.
I've already had a butcher's at Cigar Box Nation, now I'm thinking that a 3-string diddleybow will be the easiest option for a first time build. Let's see how it goes and maybe try fretting any subsequent model.
Maybe I'll try a bit of pokerwork decoration on the neck, with some visual hints at basic scale positions.
Anyhoo...
It's liable to take a few weeks, I'll keep you all posted.
Excelsior!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 05:22:51 PM »
Sooner or late Ill figure out a song on 3 string and post it on the back porch.  Maybe a video to show the guitar!

Please do!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 05:35:45 PM »
Yes, I'd love to see that too, Simon.  Maybe you can do like Sam Collins--have an instrument that is not set up to play in tune, but play it in tune anyway!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2012, 09:46:27 AM »
Well here is a first effort.

The guitar is a 3 string- which in due course will be my Dad's Christmas present (need to sort the string spacing first- which causes me to trip up a bit at the start of the video...).  I'm playing it acoustically, but it plugs in too- and sounds much the same (only louder  ;))

My daughter's favourite guitar song!




« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 09:50:18 AM by Norfolk Slim »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 09:54:01 AM »
Nice job, Simon!  Your instrument has a nice tone and amazing bass for such a small box.  Playing and singing both sounding fine.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2012, 05:25:02 PM »
cool - looks and sounds great!

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2012, 03:30:44 AM »
Sweet.
Still working on my CBG project, yours is giving me inspiration.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2012, 09:22:09 AM »
Cool. Looks and sounds real nice. Is there a reason to go with a 3-string as opposed to 4-string setup?

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2012, 09:31:19 AM »
Dont think so- some do 3 and some do 4.  You have to be a bit more aware of the tension on the neck with 4.

I like the minimalist appeal of 3  :D

Offline sweetwilliam

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2012, 01:22:32 PM »
My first CBG was my best -- an Arturo Fuente box, 3 strings, a Fender single coil pickup, Gibson stop tailpiece, a neck made from a piece of red oak stair nose, and Schaller tuners.  Loud and raw !  There was no volume or tone controls, so 100% of output went to the amp.  I also made a nice acoustic one for my grandson with a ukulele neck on a Romeo y Julieta cigar box. 

Offline nobocaster

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2013, 02:05:54 PM »
  Here's my latest distraction from getting work done.  I found the can recently and it just reminded me of one of those "pineapple" shaped ukes.  I hear Spam is pretty popular in Hawaii, so I suppose canned ham is a good fit for a ukulele.

Cheers,
Devin

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Offline harriet

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2013, 03:10:00 PM »
Thought about it for open mike so I wouldn't have to drag my resonator but I don't know how durable they are or where you'd get repairs done on them. Thought you would have to get involved the same way you do with a budget resonator or send it to the manufacturer. I was considering one from this place: http://www.daddy-mojo.com/ or one of Brian Saner's liscence plate guitars: The daddy mojo is light, the Saner is about the same weight as a resonator - though he can make them lighter.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2013, 08:19:52 AM »
Let's see if this works, otherwise I'll have to set up a photo account somewhere.

Offline Pan

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2013, 08:34:00 AM »
Let's see if this works, otherwise I'll have to set up a photo account somewhere.

Let's HEAR if it works! Interesting bridge construction. Won't the local streetcorner Chinese miss their chopsticks?  ;)

Cheers

Pan

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2013, 07:15:23 AM »
Let's see if this works, otherwise I'll have to set up a photo account somewhere.

Let's HEAR if it works! Interesting bridge construction. Won't the local streetcorner Chinese miss their chopsticks?  ;)

Cheers

Pan
Give me a few days, I'm just recovering from a nasty fever & my voice/breathing is still a bit raggedy. I can say that the box sounds great, if a bit on the quiet side.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2013, 06:33:54 AM »
Here's a sample. Not perfect, but it'll do.
You can see how the strings pop out of their nut groove and how I still need to practice finding the pitches.
I'll definitely be making more instruments; a ukulele next, then a guitar with frets. Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy the sound of my first cigar box instrument.

Offline jrn

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2013, 01:21:55 PM »
Cool thread! I've wanted to build a cbg for a long time now. Cool, fun and inexpensive is just my speed!

Andy, what did you use for your neck?

Jason
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2013, 01:30:49 PM »
Get a length of 2 x 1 hardwood.  Shape it with a spokeshave, or just a plane / rasps of some kind.  A bit of chiselling needed for the headstock.

Offline Pan

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2013, 01:41:31 PM »
Here's a sample. Not perfect, but it'll do.

Great! Thanks for sharing.
I wish I was handy enough to build my own instrument.

Cheers

Pan

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2013, 01:57:35 PM »
I'm about as un-handy as it gets.  Some reading, some care, a reasonable idea of how guitars work and some reasonable tools are quite enough!

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2013, 11:29:39 AM »
I'm about as un-handy as it gets.  Some reading, some care, a reasonable idea of how guitars work and some reasonable tools are quite enough!
I'm a confirmed, fully paid-up, card carrying klutz of the highest order. If I can make one of these things, anyone can.
Slim's advice is excellent.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2013, 12:04:40 PM »
If the strings are poping out (and too late to build more angle in) use a "string tree" or just get screw-in eye hooks like youd use for hanging a picture.  They can pull the strings tight down towards the headstock and create an angle.

Offline frailer24

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2013, 12:26:04 AM »
The small eyehooks are a godsend. I use them on every cigar box I build.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline BottleneckJohn

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2013, 02:33:27 AM »
This is big fun, guys!
Just trying to get my 4-stringer going, tuned to GDGD and it's sounds pretty cool and swampy..
 :D



"All Around Man" - Re-release on vinyl LP in April 2015!!
http://www.bottleneckjohn.com/newcd.htm
BJ

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2013, 02:42:34 AM »
Nice! Love the transition from acoustic :) What is the pickup?

Offline BottleneckJohn

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2013, 02:52:29 AM »
Thanks! The PU is a cheapo mini-humbucker.
"All Around Man" - Re-release on vinyl LP in April 2015!!
http://www.bottleneckjohn.com/newcd.htm
BJ

Offline harriet

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Re: Anyone else had fun messing with cigar box guitars?
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2013, 06:35:38 AM »
Sounds great BJ (as usual). and the cbg looks great as well:)

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