Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cigar Box Guitars - How do they sound

Pretty damn good! Some have pick-ups fitted but I'm talking about acoustic instruments here. They don't have the volume of a conventional acoustic guitar but are still loud enough to hear in an average room. They obviously lack a good decent bass response but even so if strung with fairly heavy strings you can get some nice low notes - no problem.

The actual sound quality varies from one CBG to another. Some have a sort of banjo quality to their sound - hard to describe in words but a sort of "plunky" hollow sound when plucked. Sustain is quite good too considering. I guess it depends on a number of factors - type, guage and tension of strings; type of nut and saddle; size and material of box (soundboard); neck material density etc.

The thing is not to get too hung up on these things if you are making them. The fun of them is their simplicity and primitive nature. Make one out of whatever you've got and you'll still get a cool sound. The slide aspect of these things is mainly what gives them a distinctive bluesy sound. Different playing techniques will create different tone qualities too just as it does with conventional guitars. Palm muting and varying the position on the string where you pluck it, using fingers or picks, etc all affect the sounds you can get. They are amazingly versatile once you get familiar.

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