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.