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What size cigar boxes is best for making simple slide guitar ?
Too long and narrow is not great for playing. Too big is like square regular guitar. In this case regular guitar is better.
You are a pioneer here, I've not seen anyone make anything like a kantele yet. As far a slide guitar, most folks agree the bigger the box, the better. Thinner plywood is good for acoustic building, like a Padron or a Las Cabrillas or a Don Pepin Garcia. Those are my favorites.
I'd say figure out the dimensions you want, and find a box that matches your needs. Or you can take any box you like and cut it down to match the size you need - I've done that.
based on some pictures i found on google the size varies, but the kantele "keeps" to be a lap instrument, it means you keep it on your both knees. I think there was a Polish (or maybe Jewish?) instrument called "cymbaly", played a bit differently (with sticks) but approx. same sized.
Maybe a box like the one mentioned here?
some building information in German (you may want to use Google Translate).
I asked by e-mail dimensions and measures from kantele ja bowed lyre maker.
He wrote:6 string G instrument shorter string is 240 cm and longer string is420cm. Bowed lyre beaker length is 30cm.
I'm not sure what that means.
Looking and thinking right size for cigar boxes.
it cannot be 240 cm (I think he wrote mm). 2.4 metres kantele would be longer than my upright bass and only an orangutan could play it...
An interesting instrument, I already added it to my queue ;-)
If you tend to over-think - look there:
I'm not *so* crazy about the standards (why am I here? ;-) )
A "logical" approach would be:
1.The "fretting" hand must fit comfortably in the space between the "posts".
2. There should be enough place for bowing (between the bridge and the "fretting" hand.
3. Overall length should be sufficient for holding the instrument between player's legs.
The 3 above constraints define your "minimum length".
4. Most of us won't be able to buy original bowed lyre strings - how long are the viola strings?
It could be your "maximum"
My version of the kantele:
- (cigar) box as the resonator/body,
- laminated top, first/top layer can optionally function as lid of an open box/frame as well,
- "ponsi" (bridge) attached to the lid of the box to make the instrument louder,
- friction tuners (pegs) - I will probably take a 6-in-a-row guitar tuner, I'm frakking lazy ;-) - but it would be classy.
I made an initial prototype of a very simple cardboard box kantele http://archive.org/details/CardboardBoxKantele , see also how to tune lyre using wraps http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo_UkPpm5pE&feature=relmfu . Maybe you can use some of it, please ask me if you have any questions.
I tried to tune my prototype using knots only. With such a small scale of strings it has to be tuned to something like g4, b4, e5. For that i adjusted the knot to some 2 cm from the yoke (varras) and then adjusted the loop around the yoke. I once even succeeded in tuning all three strings (for strings i used a 0.3 mm fishing line, with more than three strings the cardboard box may become unstable) but after a few hours they went out of tune due to stretching the nylon. And i did not succeed to tune them again because after released, a knot may slightly change its location, this was hopeless. The strings can be fine tuned by sliding them on varras, up to a tone up. The strings do not slide on yokes, nor do the yokes slide when plucked, but the strings may slide when strummed.
The intervals between strings have to be 2 cm, then it is possible to put fingers between the strings. I know the strings on jouhikko, etc, are stopped from side, but the only way i could stop the strings on my instrument (prototype) was pushing the strings up with the finger nail from below. It was completely possible to play that way and the sounds were clear. I also found it possible to stop two adjacent strings with two fingers. For that purpose the strings also have to be high enough so that it would be possible to put fingers below the strings.
I think that it is possible to tune the strings on kantele with knots, but only when it is possible to release every string separately. So there have to be some pegs (but not tuning pegs or movable pegs) or anything else to fasten strings separately. Once tuned, the strings may well stay that way. These may only be tags on the edge of the box, but that box then has to be made of wood, cardboard is too weak for that. As well as for any other ways of tuning (wraps, sliding bridges) the design has to be more complex than a simple cardboard box enables.
I hope that there would be some use to someone of the things which i found. Have fun with making some novel (or modern versions of the forgotten old) instruments.
My cardboard box kantele is now tuned to g4 and d5 http://archive.org/details/CardboardBoxKantele2 , tuning it with knots when it only has two strings is not too difficult. You may also use such thing as a two string jouhikko, by cutting incisions to the sides for bow.
When talking with some people here, some thought that my kantele does not resonate well. The solution i proposed was to add ribs made of strong cardboard which press against the yokes and are glued or otherwise fastened to the cover of the resonator, thus transmitting the vibration of the strings better to the cover of the resonator (these would be like an equivalent of the ponsi on kantele). This solution was accepted, though it was also understood that this makes the design more complicated.
I have also thought that on boxes which are not deep enough, parts of the box cover may be used to cover the box partly up to the strings, the covered areas may thus also act as a kind of resonators.
I'm sorry for posting again, but i should finish it by writing about all details. First i found that the double bottom (the resonator cover with a hole) in the most simple form of the instrument was a bad idea. It now resonates the best with a box only, what resonates there is all the body of the box. Thus it may be that shallower boxes are even better for the purpose than deeper boxes.
Also when you play it on the table, add some small legs to it to the corners, some half a centimeter thick, because the bottom of the box doesn't resonate well when in contact with the table. I added the legs and it resonates much better now, thus this was the biggest reason why it did not resonate well.
My instrument's sound in my recording in the video was not loud because i used the headphones microphone to record. The headphones microphone is directed towards the face and thus does not record well anything from another direction, sorry.