Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

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taz_-_devil
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by taz_-_devil » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:45 pm

That looks great, hats off to you for the reasons you pursue this hobby. Can't wait to see your final product.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:12 am

Wiring complete.
20150212_192446.jpg
Here is a typical wiring diagram for most potentiometers used for volume control.
PiezoVolumeJack.jpg
I stole the diagram from a very popular CBG supplier -- not promoting any company -- you can easily find the electric components from a variety of sites. Most builders use Pots between 10 KOhms to 500 KOhms without an SPST switch -- the one I used for the build does have an on/off switch -- so the wiring is a bit different.
20150212_181228.jpg
The piezo discs are relatively cheap. You can buy them unsoldered like I do -- or -- you can buy them with the wires presoldered. It is easy to solder -- and you can make the leads any length you want. I recommend soldering them yourself. You use regular electronics solder for all of these connections.

I use double-stick tape to place the piezo. I highly recommend starting out this way. It allows you to move the piezo whereever you want in the box. There are some nifty tutorials on how to make these pickups with a beer caps -- but I would still recommend double-stick taping your pickup in place -vs- gluing.
20150212_192308.jpg
Generally like to place the pickup under the low string.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by sltm1 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:11 am

What brand double stick tape are you using, the tape on Gitty's piezo's isn't worth a crap? If it's the box causing the problem, how do you prep it for the tape?
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:59 pm

3m -- Wipe down the wood with water -- let dry. It sticks extremely well.

I would like to add -- If you are relocating your piezo, use a flat edge like a putty knife. Pry up carefully -- OR--you will bend your piezo. You shouldn't reuse the tape...
Last edited by Pyewacket on Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Jimbo » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:21 pm

Wonder how that baby would sound plugged into a Mesa Boogie half stack!
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:10 pm

Haha I have a Crate amp. Not even an old one -- a new one. I was told the new ones are worse than the old... Would love to hear the guitars in something like that Jimbo...

Plan to have everything finished tomorrow evening. Have the strings, and the strap button. Began doing a bit of intonation work-- to be honest there isn't much you can do with these as far as intonation -- considering the junk-drawer hardware, and the fact that you want it to have a good slide-- but will do my best; I will post a bit about that tomorrow.

Decided against the potentiometer knob that I made (seen in the photos). Made a new one -- size is better/fits the guitar better -- will see it in the final photos.

Gonna go have some drinks with the wife tonight--- :wave:

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Bigbob » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:54 pm

Just a quick thank you Pyewacket, this is simply gorgeous!
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by woodshed » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:45 pm

So cool! And what a great offering to HD. Hoping the art makes it's way to S3 somehow.
When do we get to bid?

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:14 pm

Homedistiller S3 guitar is complete --
And as far as I am concerned ready for auction -- Moderators will need to take that from here -- and when they have time to work out details -- post about how they want to work things.

Thanks for your input folks, and your interest -- I really enjoyed building this!
20150214_143036.jpg
23" Scale
Acoustic strings tuned GDg (open G)
High Action for slide playing
Piezo acoustic pick-up
Volume Potentiometer - with SPST switch
LOTS of copper

Some additional information:

Since the bridge is not attached, it is likely that it would have moved during shipping. You can measure the distance b/w nut and bridge (top center of the bolts) to be sure the bridge is set to 23". Once you have it in the ball-park tune the strings. Strum each string open and again on the 12th fret. The notes should match -- just one octave higher on the 12th fret compared to strumming open. If they don't match (either too sharp or too flat) -- move the bridge closer to the nut or further away accordingly. You also have to adjust for the string thickness; thinner strings require a slightly shorter scale to correctly tune -- see the above photo and notice the angle of the bridge.

Once you have each string playing the same note open and on the 12th fret...you are tuned.

Intonation -- Modern guitars have a variety of ways to adjust for proper intonation -- You are somewhat limited with a CBG like the one I just built. I built this guitar to be sure that it can be played with a slide -- so the action is high. Intonation is more of a challenge with thick strings (The low G and D string on this guitar). If you string this guitar -- one octave higher -- your strings will be much thinner and be much less of a problem. What this means: the two thickest strings on this guitar -- when played fretted on the first couple frets -- will be sharp (Pressing thick strings against the frets -- first couple frets -- causes string distortion). This is ONLY when you play fretted -- slide work does not cause intonation problems like this. You can get much better intonation if you lower the nut by filing down the nut grove on the soundboard further:
20150213_065333.jpg
If you buy this and you want better intonation -- filing down the grove is no big deal whatsoever -- just need a rattail file --remove strings and work slow -- once you remove a bit -- restring, tune and try the first couple frets again. If it is sharp -- remove strings and file some more. REMEMBER -- you are lowering the action at the nut end -- and your slide playing may suffer. But, as you get better with slide -- you can get by with a much lower action -- and better intonation may be more desirable. Of course, you could always build a second CBG with a lower action for more traditional fret playing. In fact, I would use a bone nut -- and I could file each string grove separately -- if I was after true fret playing.

This guitar has a nice acoustic sounds. The electric is nice and punchy -- I think this has to do with the metal bridge; and is why I like to use bolts. If you wanted a softer electric sound, you could make or buy yourself a wood bridge --

Just to mention, those that don't know, you can download a tuning app for your smart phones. There are some free ones that work great.

BEFORE ANYONE CONSIDERS BUYING THIS -- I like this description from a place that builds these for people -- So ima gonna steel it and post it.

*** WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING A CBG ***
A cigar box guitar is a rude, often crude, gritty home-made instrument, and there aren't really any rules when it comes to making them. They are about as far as you can get from the glossy, soul-less factory-made instruments hanging on the walls of most music stores today. CBGs are meant to invoke the sorts of instruments that the founding fathers of blues would have built from stuff they had laying around - an old empty cigar box for the body, a piece of scrap lumber for the neck, scrap pieces of woods, lengths of bolt, old keys, etc for the nut and bridge, miscellaneous hardware such as a hinge half for the tailpiece.

I made this guitar with the best standard of quality and playability that I could muster- BUT- you need to know that cigar box guitars are for the most part primitive and primal instruments that often bear little resemblance to store-bought instruments. Each one is a unique, hand-made creation, as much instrument as art. They may have some rough edges, some nicks and scuffs, high actions, a bit of twang or sitar-buzz on certain strings, etc. That is part of what the CBG is all about. There are builders out there who turn out high-end professional-grade cigar box instruments, and charge MANY hundreds of dollars for them, and that is fine. You just need to know that these instruments are built with a different purpose in mind. If all of that sounds good to you, then great! If it makes your blood pressure shoot up and causes you to start muttering about "real" instruments and the finely honed traditions of luthiery... then you may want to keep looking.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by yakattack » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:40 am

Good job! I've been following silently as to not muck up your wonderful thread. Looking forward to bidding options. You truly have a gift.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:08 pm

Thanks Yak --

Realized that the photos don't show the fret markers -- Screws -- on the side of the neck does the trick:
20150215_145150.jpg
Also, added some side latches -- two ---one on each side:
20150215_145331.jpg

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by thisguy » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:02 pm

Golly if I knew how to play, or had money, I'd be alllllll over that.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by sltm1 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:32 am

Excellent build Pye, she's a real beauty!!
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Tater » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:41 pm

I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by moosemilk » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:19 pm

Great build and thread, pyewacket! That sure is beautiful! Wish I had the funds to bid. Bet it would sound pretty good on my Crate G40C.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Jimbo » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:33 am

I hope whoever wins this brings it to S3 in June. Im twitchy to play it!
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by The KYChemist » Sun Feb 22, 2015 5:03 am

Question for the OP... Instead of using the Avery label backing sheet, would a piece of wax paper, cut to size, work as well. I love your method for label transfer, and have a few applications in mind. Wax paper seems like it would, and would be a bit cheaper.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:28 am

Kychemist - I had thought about trying it with wax paper. I opted against it because I was worried about paper feed -- and the overall integrity of the paper. Having a paper jam would be very bad thing -- the glue will peel off and stick to your printer head. You would also have to check that the matte finish adheres evenly to the paper. It might be worth experimenting with though.

I found a good deal on the labels at Target -- Avery 18163 2X4 10sheets for 5bucks -- officedepot seamed to be overpriced

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by The KYChemist » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:50 am

Yeah... The $5 isn't that bad. I figured price would be around $20ish and up, and they wouldn't come in a pack that small. I think I'll just stick to a proven method. Thanks for your input. Much appreciated.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:53 am

I can't say thank you folks enough for your interest, support, and of course your bids! I am still in shock over the final bid -- but as Windy City says -- this is a great site.

So again, BIG thanks to you all -- and Windy City -- spectacular!

When Bigbob and Tater started getting real a couple days ago -- I realized that someone is going to be spending some SERIOUS cash on this. I know how hard we all work for our money these days, so I began working on something behind the scenes. Just to add a bit more value...

I only had a couple days, so I had to make do with Radioshack-- armed with a couple schematics easily found online -- thankfully they are still in business here. Say what you will about Radioshack -- I still like that damn store.

Anyway, I assembled all the components -- pounded out some more copper, drilled holes (for the speaker grill) using ODs hand drawn perforated flute plate template (added a few more holes, graded the hole sizes a bit), grabbed another cigar box, and found an old 12vdc Linksys computer router's power supply --
began building:

Will be sending this to you Windy City -- gonna see if I can fit it in the same box -- otherwise, I will send it separately.

Cigar Box Amp:
20150226_065519.jpg
Tried to stay with the general theme as the guitar. Basic little practice amp -- with volume pot -- and a gain pot. With gain up high -- it gets gritty as hell.

Here are a couple photos of the inside:
20150226_065805.jpg
I don't have tons of experience soldering small electrical components in a circuit board -- was able to manage mainly because of the good schematics. Only modified a bit by wiring in a coaxial connector so that you can plug in a powersupply -- forgoing the need for a battery.
20150226_065918.jpg

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Husker » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:00 am

Looks like your basic 555 amp circuit (is that what it is). That chip (if it is the 555 you used), is SOOOO versatile. If not, then please post a link to whatever schematic you used. 555 can also be used for almost any sound effect modification box. But IIRC, the really 'simple' circuits do get pretty nasty when you turn gain up high. They feedback pretty hard. You have to use enough capacitance to eat that feedback, thus no longer such a simple circuit, also the wires/breadboard make it almost impossible to do high gain. A clean PCB is needed to keep the RF down.

Here is a pretty good set of 555 circuits for amps and such. I bet there also are many sound effect circuits in there. I did not dig in, and my electronic reading is in memories LONG lost.

https://www.google.com/search?q=555+ic+ ... d=0CB0QsAQ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:13 am

These are the plans I used. Runoffgroove website I believe deserves the credit for it -- not me -- a bit of a dimwitt when it comes to these sort of things:
Radio Shack parts.jpg
This helps with understanding placement on the general purpose circuit board.
Circuit board for idiots.jpg
Circuit board help.jpg
Last edited by Pyewacket on Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Jimbo » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:18 am

haha, the 555 is a timer. It will make a nice Class D (digital amp) if clocked at 10x the highest audio frequency. But maaaaan, a Class D amp in a rustic cigar box amp for a cigar box git box? Seems sacreligious. Should have a crusty old Sylvania 12AX7 triode vacuum tube in there :D

Edit: Pye that looks like a nice basic opamp amplifier. LM386 is a nice low voltage amp. We can strap some batteries to it for sittin around the campfire in Colorado. Very nice addition to the package man, sweet! You da man! Now I really do need to put a song and video together! (see request in other thread)
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Pyewacket » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:23 am

Should have a crusty old Sylvania 12AX7 triode vacuum tube in there
Great, now I want to build one -- wife is gonna kill me.

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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Husker » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:26 am

Lets see you battery power that tube, lol. I saw a ton of tube like this last fall at junk stock. They are around, and yes, an old tube amp is really what 'should' go with this CBG.

Good stuff.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Jimbo » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:01 am

Husker wrote:Lets see you battery power that tube, lol. I saw a ton of tube like this last fall at junk stock. They are around, and yes, an old tube amp is really what 'should' go with this CBG.

Good stuff.
haha, right?! Slog a car battery out to the campfire haha.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Windy City » Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:04 am

That is really awesome. :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup:
And also very generous of you.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Jimbo » Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:51 pm

Im sittin here doing a spirit run on some corn likker, pickin on this cigar box guitar, and somehow everything just seems right with the world.

Beautiful instrument Pye! An absolute gem.
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Re: Building a 3 string Cigar Box Guitar

Post by Bushman » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:07 pm

:thumbup:
Jimbo wrote:Im sittin here doing a spirit run on some corn likker, pickin on this cigar box guitar, and somehow everything just seems right with the world.

Beautiful instrument Pye! An absolute gem.
:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: +1, since I don't have your musical talent I just put on stillin music when doing a run.

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