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I am helping my 5-yr-old son build a 1/2-sized 4-string bass guitar from a cigar box. I have been looking at plans for a 3-string cigar box guitar, but am uncertain as to how the plan should be altered to make a bass guitar. Also, can anyone offer advice on the size and measurements for a 1/2-sized base guitar?
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer!
You might want to check out this group: http://www.cigarboxnation.com/group/cigarboxbasses
Hi Libby......That's so cool your building a bass for your 5 year old. I built 3-string bleach bottle banjo's for my two daughters but that was 20 years ago. I have been looking for basses myself and I ran into this yesterday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRM26I8Y3KY on youtube. All I can say it can't be too hard the way this guy made it. You can pretty much make anything cheaply. Even the bad ones are pretty good. I look forward to see what you come up with.
I've built a 3-string Ukulele Bass with Polyurethan strings like the Kala Ukulele Basses. What you need is different tuners and special strings - you get the tuners at largesound.com at fair prices. The strings are quite expensive (here in Europe you pay about 30 Euros for them). But you can get the Ashbory strings at half the price (which IMO don't sound that good). You get really good sounds with a simple piezo pickup. And the bass is only a little larger than half the size of a longscale bass guitar. In my christmas song video you can hear its sound.
In the photo you can see normal bass tuners. Meanwhile I've changed them into Ukulele bass tuners. You get ukulele bass strings at various online stores. Ask for pahoehoe strings. Here you can hear how my bass guitar sounds:
Three string basses are fairly easy to build if you already built a 3 string cbg. Basses just have a longer scale and I use weedwacker line for the strings. I also enjoy the sound of a fretless bass so no frets to install!
Hi Wade. What weedwacker gauge would you use for a shortscale bass guitar tuned in E-A-D?
Ohh that's a good question - I've only experimented with long scale 34" and above. I don't get a lot of volume out of that low "e". I bought some vinyl covered clothes wire I want to try. I'm using .13 for "E", .095 for the "A" , .080 for the "D" and .065 for the "G". I have to say the results are pretty impressive with the AD and G strings. Still not satisfied with the E yet.
Hope this helps,
My 5 yr old. son is still working on his 1/2-sized bass guitar -- we are using a bedpan for a resonator and were able to get fret measurements for a 25" scale length using the fret calculator on stewmac.com. Now we have another question (because my son is expected to do as much research on his own as possible, I am having him write the question):
"MY NAEM FAOLAIN I AM 5 YEARS OLD. I AM MAKING A 1/2 SISE SIGAR BOX BASE GITAR FOR SCOOL. PLEES TEL ME WHAT SISE WIERE I SHOULD YOOS FOR MY FRETS. THANX."
Thanks in advance for any help you all can offer!
Actually, frets aren't necessary for bass. If the strings are close to the neck you can just hold the string against the wood where the fret would be and the strings will vibrate just fine because they're so thick. You can use fret lines or markers on the side of the neck to see where the positions are.
But if you want frets, probably the easiest is to glue down the flat side of cut bobby pins. If it doesn't need to be too durable, bamboo skewers will do and are even easier to cut.
Using frets will make it easier for your son to play the "right" notes. But it's not easy to fret an instrument, so I would just make marks where the frets would be (look for a fret calculator in the www). So he'll find the right positions. My daughter started to play the violin when she was 5 and violins don't have frets or fret marks and it didn't sound bad when she played her first notes on the instrument. so if your son can hear if a note sounds good or bad, he'll get along with a bass without frets.