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Hey everybody, I've been reading up a lot over the past few weeks and I think I've got a pretty solid plan for what I want to do, I just want to get a few opinions on things. This isn't necessarily a cigar box bass (since no cigar box is involved) but it uses similar construction techniques.
It'll be a 4 string weedwacker bass with piezo pickup. The body is constructed like a Danelectro guitar: a hollow body made out of a plywood frame with masonite (or maybe ply, haven't decided) top. I'll be building the body like a sandwich, kind of layer by layer. I still have to do some measurements on what pieces need to be what size but I know exactly what I'll do. For the neck I want to make a laminate for strength and resistance to bowing. There will be a fretless but lined fingerboard on top. What woods should I use for the neck and fingerboard, and what sizes should I get? Not sure what a good width is, since the neck won't taper toward the nut. Something easily available is a plus (think Home Depot)!
What size strings should I use? I'm torn between 30" scale and 34". I will likely start off with 34" though. What should I do for tuners? I don't want to use bass tuners because they're big and heavy and I don't want the neck to dive insanely. I also don't really have the tools to drill out a guitar tuner. Ideally I'd like to make as many parts for this bass as possible so if anyone has some DIY tuner ideas I'd love to try them. Any suggestions on bridge construction or should I just scale up a normal CBG style? Same with the nut and tailpiece.
Finally, I'd like to ask about piezo placement. Since the neck is the only part that directly couples to the strings, I'd imagine you'll get the most signal from placing a piezo right onto it. I was planning on taping the piezo to the bottom of the neck below the bridge. Is that a good idea? I guess I'll have to play around with it a bit. I'm also going to build one of these into the cavity http://www.scotthelmke.com/Mint-box-buffer.html for best signal possible.
I'll leave you with a drawing I've made so far. Not quite to scale since I'm not sure of all my measurements. Let me know what you think of it!
Also I'm having a bit of difficulty hearing the few youtube demos there are. How does a weedwacker bass sound compared to something like the Kala U-Bass?
Would these tuners work with weedwacker strings? https://www.largesound.com/buy/index.php/categories/parts
They're reasonable priced, they're not huge chunks of metal like most bass tuners, and they're open enough for larger strings. Just want to make sure they can handle the tension.
Hmm, I don't have any answers but it's an interesting topic. I was sitting outside today looking at a roll of weedwacker string wondering how well it would work on an aeolian harp.
I use standard tuners and just drill out the hole slightly bigger. You can even cut the WW line thinner on the end to get started in the tuner hole. The "E" string is a big challenge to get volume from such a low sounding string. Some builders save the headache an do a 3 string bass (ADG) - these are much easier.
Hope this helps,
I think I'm gonna just go ahead and experiment with the Ashbory tuners, because I think drilling for the size E I want will be too hard on a tuner. I considered doing a 3-string, but since it seems that's what everybody else does, I might as well be different :)
Part of the reason I want a huge E string is so it has the power to vibrate the piezo well-enough instead of just flopping.
I've been playing around with my design more. I've made the upper horn look a little better to me, though potentially at the cost of some neck dive. We'll see. I'm doing a slot headstock because they look really cool. Not sure how strong that needs to be since I've never done it before. This model shows it as a 30" scale length against a human body:
Additionally, I will definitely be doing a 3 piece laminate neck with a probably width of about 2.25 inches or so. It will have a trapezoidal profile
my electric uprigh has a slotted headstock. It's maple, the walls aren't really strong, but it manages to counter the pull of 4 steel 40"+ strings...
That's good to hear. I think I've pretty much established my final plan then!
Just got to work out a few dimensions, go shopping for wood and glue, and then get cutting
I don't know about slotted headstocks on a homemade bass, but I do know a version of the 70's Gibson EB-3 had one and it was prone to letting go if knocked while the strings were tensions - so much so that Gibson dumped the design in subsequent models. I reckon that if the lamination you use runs through the head too it should be all gravy for you but who knows? I doubt there are many home made, laminated-and-slotted-headed, weed whacker equiped basses out there! Good luck with it
I took a look at the EB3 history just now. I didn't know they ever did any with the slots, very interesting. It looks like the breaking issues were fixed when they moved to a laminated maple neck, so hopefully I should be fine!
For sure, half the fun of this is ending up with something that nobody else really has. I will do the lamination all through, just like on a Wishbass