Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Blog

My cbg activities have ground to a standstill right now but hey - I've started a new blog about anything cool and interesting that comes my way. Mainly music and art related - definitely creative and cool. Have a look and see what you think. Early days yet but hope to out more stuff on regularly.

New blog about cool stuff

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

where now with cigar box guitars - building a Jazzmaster

This is quite difficult to write but I have pretty much hung up my saddle with cigar box guitars. I have found that my creative urges have moved on to other things. You'll know from reading my posts that I am also heavily into electronic circuit bending and that I have also been making a six string resonator guitar. Well those activities have distracted me from cigar box guitar world.

I don't know about you but this is how it goes with me. I am a very creative person - I need to be making something and my interests are quite wide and varied. When I get "into" something I really get into it for a while. My enthusiasm burns bright and I go for it. But I find that it will dominate my thinking and creative energies to the point where other hobbies or interests get put on the back burner. Plus I like to keep trying new things. Well cigar box guitar just haven't had much of a look in for a while now and coupled with the fact that I haven't sold any for a long time, there is no need to keep making them. My music room is already crammed full of stuff.

I even gave the UK Boxfest a miss this year. My cbg buddy wasn't able to go so I passed on it too. Now I haven't given up on them completely but there are just so many other things to occupy myself with for the time being. So I'm sorry if I am letting the side down and by not writing about them anymore and if you've come here for the first time looking for stuff on cigar box guitars, don't click away too quickly, there are lost of posts in the archives here to whet your appetite.

I'm going to continue adding stuff here when I can but it probably won't be cbg material but .... you might just find it interesting anyway. I'm sure none of you are one-trick ponies and like to dabble with other musical related subjects. I can guarantee it will be mostly musically inclined and in the style of guitar box guitar building  - pretty much home made and left-field. So thanks for your support over the last few years, I've enjoyed doing this and "it's not over till the fat lady sings"

So what am I doing at the moment. Well I'm building a Fender Jazzmaster style guitar. After making the solid body resonator, I wanted to use my newly learned luthier skills and have a go at another "proper" guitar. I had a new cheap telecaster style guitar that I didn't want anymore but it has a lovely neck, so I've taken that off to use as a donor for the new JM. The body started out as a plank of English Ash. I've glued two pieces together to make a body sized plank and routed out the shape, most of the pockets and attached the neck. Here's a photo of it so far. Jazzmasters are cool guitars, so although not as far out as cbgs, they are still slightly left-field in guitar world. I'll continue to log my progress if you want to come back and see how it's going occasionally.

Oh and I'm building a small amp using a donor practise amp built into the cabinet of an old Bakelite valve (tube) wireless. On my to do list when I get time, I want to build a Gristleizer pedal. If you've never heard of them check them out on Youtube. They are cool too. So plenty to come back for. See ya soon.

Monday, June 10, 2013

new camcorder and Youtube

Hi folks, I'm still here but not been doing much on the cigar box guitar front lately. I seem to have been more involved with my electronic activities. I really feel I need to get on with playing, experimenting and recording some music so the building side of things has taken a bit of a back seat. You know how it is with these things. The creative drive seems to get focussed in one particular direction for me and my other stuff goes on the backburner.

For some time I've been toying with getting a camcorder but didn't want to spend too much money on one and didn't want to get distracted with a new hobby. The main reasons for getting one is that the stuff I put on Youtube is quite low res because it's done on my little digital camera. It only allows me to do about 5 minutes or recording too so that's the reason I've not put any new stuff on for a while even though I've kept promising it. Well I found a cheap but adequate camcorder in a second-hand shop and so I'm intending to do a few vids soon. I want to show people my reso 6 stringer I built and a few of my circuit bent projects so don't give up on me just yet. I'll post on here when I've put something new on.

And here are a couple of new vids my electric resonator guitar and my "333" three string solid body cbg style guitar

Sunday, January 20, 2013

UK cigar box guitar fest 2013

Hi folks, it's a new year (whatever that means). Anyway it's 2013 and our friends at Homegrown Music Collective have come up trumps again and announced plans for our 5th UK cigar box guitar fest or Boxstock as it's known. This is what Roosterman has posted on the Cigar box Nation site

This year will see Boxstock going back to its roots. A simple one day event aimed at catching up with friends, enjoying and playing some homegrown music and sharing a few thoughts and ideas - what could be better than that?
The date: Saturday 26th October 2013
The Venue: The Musician, 42 Crafton Street West,  Leicester, LE1 2DE.
The daytime sessions will be free to all, with open mic sessions, trade stands, demos etc and workshops.
The evening gig promises to be a real treat and we already have 3 superb artists booked for your pleasure.
Firstly, after a storming debut at last years Boxstock open mic session, the legend that is VINYLHED,
from Hastings Old Town, we have the twangtastic KING SIZE SLIM, and from the USA (where else?) we bring you multi-instrumentalist JUSTIN JOHNSON - what a line up!

Well it sounds pretty good to me and as usual you'll come away buzzing with enthusiasm and if you haven't been before you'll make some new cbg buddys I promise. Put it in your diaries folks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

cigar box guitar rewards

I mentioned in my last blog that some of the rewards of being involved in this cigar box guitar thing, have been the feedback and interaction with other people who have read or seen my postings. I mentioned a young lady (Lorraine from Ireland) who has taken the subject up as part of her college course and wanted to talk to me about it and use it as part of her thesis. This is fantastic. She phoned me to ask about intonation as she had built her first guitar and although it was playable, the intonation was wrong and the octave was turning up at the 14th fret instead of the 12th. After some questioning, we realised that she had had missed the point of having a bridge or saddle - effectively the anchorage of the strings at the tail end were her bridge, allowing it to be played still, but making the scale length too long. The addition of a saddle/bridge, set a few centi-metres forward should correct this. We had a good long chat and a few laughs and I really enjoyed talking to her. She has kindly allowed me to mention her and post a picture of her with her newly built, first cigar box guitar. Notice the knitted snowman in the bottom right with a big grin on his face. Looks like he's jamming along with an Irish tin whistle! Looking forward to seeing your next build Lorraine and maybe hearing you play it?

The way I normally set my neck, fretting, saddle position etc is quite simple. I have a long narrow piece of mdf with the fret positions drawn on (I always use the same short scale). I also have marks where the nut will be and where the bridge/saddle position should be (twice the distance of the nut to the 12th fret). Before I even start to cut the neck and because cigar boxes vary so much in size, I use the template against the box to size it up and make sure the bridge will be somewhere near where I want it (which is usually about 1/3 of the length of the box from the bottom edge). I can them see how long the whole neck need to be, allowing a few cms for the tail to stick out when using a through neck design and adding about 140mm to the top of the neck for the headstock. Also I can see where the 12th fret will be with regard to the top edge of the box. That's not so important - more for working out the aesthetics of how it will look and how many frets I might want in total. I always use a floating bridge rather than gluing it in place so I can adjust the intonation easily. Once you've built the guitar and strung it up you can place the bridge where it ought to be as a starter, then with a tuner, move it either backwards or forwards until you get the octave of the open string correct at the 12th fret. Hope this helps.

7th anniversary of my first cigar box guitar

Just looked back and realised it's seven years since I started on this CBG path.  I spotted my first one on Ebay and loved the look of it, knew nothing about them but wanted it. My wife bought it for me for Christmas. As they say the rest is history. In that time I've had some fantastic fun with them, made some great friends - one in particular has become a best buddy. Been instrumental in getting the UK CBG fest established and had some cracking events with them (most credit due to Chickenbone John, who incidentally was the guy who made my first one). I've had some of my guitars photographed with a couple of minor celebrities, had a backstage tour and free tickets to the Buena Vista musical show, rekindled my interest in electronics, sold some stuff which has funded the purchase of more gear to add to my collection. It's been one of the best journeys I've made.

Now I know I've been very quiet on the CBG front this year. That's been down to a few reasons. Busy building my own 6 string reso, building a DIY synth box and just to keep me occupied in between, we have had to deal with the deaths of two close members of the family, and three other members being hospitalised involving us with a helluva lot of visting. 2012 has been one helluva year for us but ... I'm still here and though I haven't anything new to report on in CBG world, as it's coming to the end of the year, I just wanted to reflect back and also say a big thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings, report back to me and give me your support. Now this is not meant as "own trumpet blowing"  but I have to say these are the real rewards for me, trivial as they may seem it's just great to know my efforts haven't been a waste of time and might have helped uplift and inspire others to find their passion too. It's that passion that helps to make life fun and help get you through the rough times.

I started writing this blog and posting on Youtube because I was just incredibly enthusiastic about the subject and wanted to tell others who might want to know more. One of the best parts of finding something that fires your passion, is being able to share it with like minded people. I've had some great feedback from people who have seen my stuff and written to say how how they enjoyed it and in some cases, inspired them to get involved themselves. One man told me how it had turned his son's life around, given him motivation. Another young man wrote asking lot's of questions, then having been inspired by building cigar box guitars, went on to do some luthier courses and started building his own plastic bodied 6 string electrics based on the old Airline guitars of the 60s - and what fabulous guitars he made! Recently a young lady contacted me to help her on a cigar box guitar project she is doing as part of her college course (more on that in my next blog).

So let's hope we can keep this fire going, enjoy our cigar box guitar adventures and have fun. Hope you all have a great Christmas and that Santa brings you some nice cigar box related toys.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

the 333

Right then. I'm calling my solid bodied three stringer the "333". I found some old cigarette packet fronts and decided to decorate the guitar with something. The one I liked is called "State Express 333". I thought that sounded cool for a three-stringed guitar so I stuck one under the strings, a piece of another on the headstock and just to add some mojo to the back, I made a stencil and sprayed 333 on it. The whole idea of this guitar was to make a well made and great sounding guitar but not to over-design it. To make it look like it was just thrown together quickly. The pieces of wood I bought had the price stamped on it which I left on so the 333 sort of echos that theme. The hole in the headstock is a result of shearing off one of the screws that hold the machine head in. I couldn't get it out so decided to reposition it and drilled a new hole. I kinda like the fact that it's got a hole that shouldn't be there. I might stick something interesting in it eventually. Been playing it again today and it's an abolute cracker. Here's some photos. Got to do a vid of it so you can hear it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

three string cigar box guitar style electric guitar

I've been calling it the plank so far but I'm gonna rename it. Anyway it's more or less finished. Just a few cosmetic touches to add to make it a bit more interesting. It's a bit of an ugly, weird looking thing but it's a little cracker. I wanted it to look like it had been thrown together from bits and pieces but with a decent fretted neck and decent (non piezo) pickup so it plays and sounds real good. And it does. I fitted a cheap Ebay-bought humbucker and just a volume pot.nI'm well-pleased with it. Put through a distortion pedal it sounds real dirty and wicked. When i get time I'll take some decent photos and hopefully a vid to put on Youtube.

Life has been manic again for the last couple of months with a death and two hospitalised family members to visit, so it's an achievement that I managed to get anything done.

I haven't even told you about our 4th annual CBG fest at Manchester a few weeks ago have I? Call back in a short while and hopefully I'll have had time to post something here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back on the cigar box guitar wagon

It's been a while since I did much building  in the cigar box guitar world so i haven't written much here. Other things have taken priority for several months. One of those was building my own solid-body 6 string reso which I absolutely love. The knowledge gained from that has made me re-think my cbg building ideas. I really like playing with three strings in open tuning but want a bit more quality from my instrument than I previously had. I want frets and a decent sounding pickup now so my next build will have to incorporate those. I also decided I'd like to have a crack at making another conventional 6 stringer but on my own this time.

So I decided it will be a Les Paul junior - cos there cool and simple instruments. So I headed off to John Boddy timber yard to buy some wood and while I was there I found a small plank of pippy/burr oak. It has a swirly, knotty and cracked grain which is loved by wood turners for making decorative items. I figured it would make a cool solid-body, cigar box style, three stringer which would be a good practice project before attempting my LP junior. So that's me back in the land of CBGs (OK it's technically not a cigar box guitar but who cares - it'll fit in nicely with my collection and should sound and play damn fine).

I started on the body yesterday. Cut the plank down to a cigar box size first. The plank had a big curved crack in it, which I didn't mind, but when cut to size was going to leave a piece flapping about. I decided to let the wood dictate the shape of the body by hacking it off.  Then I hacked away with a gouge chisel all around the other sides to create a really rough looking plank and just lightly sanded it to take off the splinters. It now looks like a piece of driftwood. The wood has various ink stamped markings on it which I am leaving on. Next job is to make a template to route out a neck pocket. I think it'll have a single humbucker with a volume control and keep it really simple. I'll post a photo here soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

guitar build update

Once again my apologies for taking so long to get back here. Still busy sorting out my departed uncle's affairs. Wow doesn't time fly. Well the guitar is 99% finished and I've been playing it for a few weeks now. I'm just waiting for the Highlander cone pickup to arrive. When it does I'll have to remove the strings, plate and cone. All the wiring is pretty much in place ready for it. At the same time I need to raise the action a little at the saddle end and fit some heavier strings. I fitted 12s but with the action as low as it is and the tuning dropped down to open D, there isn't enough tension on the strings for easy and clean slide work (which is what I mainly built it for). I've got some 15s - yes that's right 15s but that is pretty normal guage for slide players. I'm very happy about the guitar and still can't keep my eyes off it. I'll post some more deatils about the last few build sessions but for now I'll leave you with a (rather poor) photo of it. In reality it looks 10 times more beautiful.