Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy cigar box guitar Christmas

Hi folks. I'd just like to say Happy Christmas to you all. Thanks for visiting my site, I would never have thought I'd reach so many people and so many hits on a subject as "odd" as cigar box guitars. It's four years since I first heard of them and had one given for Christmas. I've had so much satisfaction from all this. Building, playing, writing about them etc. Please keep coming back here and leaving a comment if you feel inspired to. I love to hear from other CBGers and am always happy to respond to any emails.

Well the fret-fitting experiment was a bit of a flop. Lessons learnt - don't try to retro-fit frets to an existing guitar unless it has a decent low action height. The intonation is crap due to the excessive stretching of the strings when trying to hold them down. Also the fret marks I had made were done with shallow saw-cuts which were wider than the fretwire tang and so there was little for them to grip to when I made the correct sawcut. I tried super-glueing them in which was only partly successful. Apart from that, they looked cool and weren't too difficult to fit but the guitar is still only suitable for slide playing. I may try to refit the neck so that the action is lower but I reckon if you want a fretted cbg, then best to start out from scratch with the intention and plan them into your build.

Hope you all have a great Christmas and that there are no nasty surprises in store. Keep the lo-fi, cigar box flag flying!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

two latest cigar box guitars

Here's the promised photos of the two new builds. They didn't hang around long, gone to a new home already. The white one is a Cuaba box, one of the prettiest I've had so far. The bridge is made from an allan key, the soundhole cover is a mounting from a wardrobe rail. The Partagas guitar started out as a fairly boring and too-new looking box. I aged it by creating a few dings and scratches then rubbing it with stain which deepened the colour. I wanted it to remain fairly simple and primitive looking so I created the soundholes to look as though they were burnt through but in fact they were drilled and then burnt with a soldering iron. The bridge is a nice rusty old nut and bolt.

So what's my next plans? I'm hoping to have a break from building any new guitars in order to finish a few projects. I want to get into fretwork. I've got the wire and a special fret-saw. Nice to see the saw is made in Sheffield - good old English manufacturing. I'm going to practise on some guitars I've had for a while. The first attempt will be to convert a 3-string fretless guitar into a "dulcitar" - basically a cbg with frets at certain positions that produce a particular scale when played, rather than at every semi-tone position. When I'm happy with my technique I'll fit frets to my half-built "special" that'll contain JuJu's hand-wired magnetic pickup. Maybe build another batch of tobacco tin amps and what I really want to do soon is make a simple wooden case to carry a cbg. It will get the SMOJO treatment to make it a cool box. I started a case months ago but it was too ambitious, with built-in amp and velvet lining. It's half-way there but it'll have to wait a while longer yet.