A bit about myself. I have relative pitch. This is a step below perfect pitch. What relative pitch is. If I hear a note I automatically know the distance and pitch of every note. So unlike perfect pitch I have to hear a note first. I do know some pitches by memory. Yes this is fading with age. But I still have it. Really helped me years ago. Years before the internet, tabs and you tube. If I could hear it. Had the skills. I could play it.
I have some awesome playing CBGs that I’ve bought at our annual fest here in St. Louis MO. And I’ve played them hard. I have hundreds of hours of video of me playing both ideas and songs. Video myself so I can both hear and see what I’m doing. I make most of my music on them.
The off sound of a CBG is part of it’s raw charm. In your face don’t care almost punk attitude is the quality base for these instruments. Music doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.
I still have more standard guitars than I do CGBs. I’ve played for years. When I play them it’s like an old friend. My ears are happy.
After playing on a standard guitar playing on a CBG is rough. I’m not going to say is as bad as fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. But I really notice it. I guess I can justify my problem. I know other great guitar players. They notice too. I realize this problem would be salved if I played everything with a slide. But that wouldn’t work with the kind of music I make. I listen to videos both on this site and on the web. Love the off raw sound. But in my hands it doesn’t work. Relative pitch becomes my problem. Because it’s my problem. Not a problem with the instrument or the raw sounding awesome music people make with it. Think of it like hemorrhoids. Something I could have that’s not catchy. But still a personal problem. Still something I need to deal with.
The only answer I can come up with it to change what i’m playing on. So I plan on building a few CBGs. They will have standard necks with machined bridges. So I can still play CBG tunings and keep my head happy. Will my music be better. Nope. Will it be better than what a hand made CBG sounds like. Absolutely not. And there’s no way it’ll be better than any music on this site. But in my hands it will make my ears happy. You might call it my preparation H.
How will these new creations be CBGs? First and foremost no rules! I’ll still be making the bodies. Doing all the wiring. And even including the awesome raw sound of a piezo. The only real difference is the use of a store bought neck. I have six string spaces to choose from. I could have just three, just four, two sets of three, one set of four and a two string low bow, one set of four with a space and a diddley bow. And more. All on the same neck.
Because I can put more of myself into something I build I'n not going for the normal guitar look. Like my AutoRatic Cosmic Glider. Every CBG I make will stand out in a crowd.
So I guess this is more of a confession post. “Hello everyone. My name is Cause the rat. I have a problem. I love something I can never obtain. A music I’ve loved from the first time I heard it. A beautiful raw sound. An off key out of tune tapestry of pure rich joy. A rough beautiful music. A sound that transcends above classical standards. A beauty that flows seamlessly from so many. But fails in my hands.”
So I’ll play on my preparation H. And be jealous of the awesome raw sound that a real CBG makes. My music will still have the tuning of a CBG. But never obtain the true sound.
Being a beginner player, It's not as ingrained in my head yet, pitch, I hear it, I hear the differences different instruments make using different tonal woods(which seems to be my hemorrhoids) I hear how one sounds that pleases me, and have a hard time switching to a different guitar, I have this problem with regular guitars, not CBG's, and reason being....is many will hate this comment, I haven't been able to wrap my head around them being anything more than a cultural "look-back" like someone trying to bring back bell bottoms.
I've talk to several with your...."affliction" LOL, mostly long time players with that "perfect or close to pitch" and like you said it's not fingernails on chalkboard to you, it describes it perfectly to most of them. They're usually ex-drum players, ex-lead or rhythm guitar players, I've had some want me to repair guitars that had nothing wrong with them, but they could hear the "itch they couldn't scratch" coming from their instrument. So it's not only just with CBG's from being use to "real" instruments, but with all instruments.
As far as building "CBG's" that term is loose as a goose who ingested a gallon of olive oil...I've heard some on here, old post and new trying to make claims if it doesn't have an actual "cigar box" then it isn't.....in my opinion, if you weren't a migrate worker from a 100+ years ago, felt a whip on your back, or been so poor you ate bugs and made an instrument out of desire with chicken wire and a broom, then you never made one either.
Plenty on here have made exactly what your undertaking, can't wait to see your builds.
Hummmmm... attempting to create something that you can't obtain otherwise ..?
that is the true essence of CBG's ;-)
good luck , anxiously awaiting to see your creations .
Thanks folks. Really thought I was going to get negative posts on this one. But that would be OK too. I'm thick skinned and have nothing to prove.
Relative pitch is either something your born with or you can develop over the years. I was born with it. At around 7 or 8 I would listen to classical music. Memorize the different parts each instrument was playing. Then choose to play back a single instrument or number of instrumental parts back in my head. Or just the entire orchestration. Radio stations squeeze or stretch out music depending on the time they have between commercials. There were times i could tell this was going on. The song would be sharp or flat from the last time I heard it.
Richard. It's more of a notation thing than the overall sound or 'timber' an instrument makes. The sound I'm referring to is the raw, off pitch tuning. I've found the off pitch notation is what turns off a lot of guitar players. They can't play it with another guitar player unless they're playing it with a slide. It's fun to watch a guitar player pick up a three string CBG. They have the same reaction I did. "What do you do with this? Nothing is where it should be."
Anonymous, I have a damaged guitar that will be modified to have two different three string tunings. Thinking of G on the top, B flat on the bottom. going to bang on that for a bit to get a feel for it. The the laws of physics are my limit.
I guess I don't understand. I can't see any reason that a properly set up and tuned CBG with good fretwork would have intonation any worse than the average guitar.
Out of curiosity I just checked the one I have with me right now. Difference between open strings and 12 fret harmonic is less than a half cent. Trying to use the same finger pressure in each position, the max I'm off up to the 12th fret is about 5 cents. I can change the pitch up to 10 cents sharp just from varying finger pressure. From the 12th to the last fret (23rd, don't ask why there isn't a 24th, lol) it is worse because of the high action. I'm working out of town and don't have my tools but I plan on fixing that when I get home.
Sure, it could be better but I think that's not to bad for a CBG and maybe better than some cheap guitars.
First off, thankfully the people inhabiting this forum are (mostly) reasonable, regular folks without a need to flame others herein. There have been a few over the years, but they tend to leave before too long....nobody wants to engage much with them. Hooray for the good guys!
Build what you want to play. So many in here build their own boxes, use tins, shovels, clocks, 2x4's, or whatever tickles their fancy when they go to build. All good, all are somebody's starting point. Not an actual cigar box? O.k. by me. I don't call my "other" builds cigar box guitars, because they're not. They are home-made, hand-made, by me. Still call them gits. I make my necks, but I have used factory 6 string necks for a couple of builds. In the end, I haven't liked them near as much as my 3 string, garage built gits. Rarely get played by me. At 68 years old, my ears are what they are. Some gits sound much better than others to me, so those are the ones I pick up to play. My old fingers just aren't up to 6 string playing like they used to be, so my factory 6 strings get played by my grandkids. Give me a 3 stringer with 10 mm string spacing, and I can still rock my world.
Go rock yours.
thanks again for the responses.
Korrigan, ya, high strings can be a real problem. The two main CBGs I play on are five and four years old. The constant pressure on the necks have bent them a bit. Plus i don't think they were 100% accurate when new. But still great players. The highest point above the last fret is perhaps a 1/16 higher than one of my electrics. Been playing guitar sense 1976. One thing I would tell players I helped was to press the string light enough to hear the note. Even when playing chords. I learned that too. Keeps from squeezing strings out of wack. Easiest playing guitar I every had was one with a scalloped fretboard. Like playing on threads and air. We have an monthly CBG club. Some months ago one of our members came in with a cool idea. He had cut his wooden bridge up into three pieces. Then moved each piece to get his intonation perfect. It really did make a difference.
Grandpa, I remember all of that. A few folks took themselves to seriously. Some of my favorite CBGs on this site are ones made out of scrap or plywood. I like to think of it this way. A cigar box is the acoustic bodies of the CBG world. Even making your own box is part of the acoustic CBG world. Everything else is the electric bodies of the CBG world. And it's a big world.
My damaged guitar I'll mod is a 1980 Electra Les Paul Custom copy. The binding on the neck is cracked up. With a chunk missing on the bottom side. The side you slide your hand. The electronics are original so the pickups are mush. Or "vintage" sound people people pay big bucks for. Instead of B flat I'm going with A. It's only a half step down. And I can tune it up to B flat if I really needed it. Guess it's really not that much of a mod. All I'm doing is widening the third string slot on the nut. : )
As of right now I've got a les paul copy tuned With the 4, 5, and 6th string as an open G. The first three are tuned to an open E using the strings that are there. It kind of sounds like a mickey mouse version of the open G tuning. Like I should play everything twice as fast. : ) This was the easiest way to go. Try this without moding the nut. Decided when I do this I'm going with an open G and B flat. Each with a 1, 5, 8 tuning.
Still tweaking the body. Decided on two layers of 3/4 ply with a 1/4 ply top. Single Fender noiseless pickup top loaded with a ring. Got a set of these dirt cheap. Thought it would be a great time to try one. The controls compartment will be accessed from the back of the guitar. The center 3/4 ply will have large areas of it cut out. This will lighten the guitar up and, if I put a sound hole in it somewhere make it semi acoustic. My Cosmic Glider is hollow as well.Never put a sound hole in it. Didn't want to change the look of it.
for those who haven't seen AutoRATic Rhythm and Blues Cosmic Glider,
Quotable: "The off sound of a CBG is part of it’s raw charm. In your face don’t care almost punk attitude is the quality base for these instruments. Music doesn’t have to be perfect to be good." :-)
I taught myself how to play, how to read music and tuning. I used a pitch pipe to tune my guitar when I started out. That allowed me to recognize and remember E-A-D-G-B-E or most of that when just listening with my ears. Electronic tuners are great while on stage, but they become a crutch and a hindrance to learning/training your ears to hear and recognize notes.
Recorded music is often times different from what was played while recording. Tabs written by the player will be off by a half step or whole step in some instances compared to the recorded music. Effects can play tricks with your ears when trying to match a recording as well.
Many of the self taught Bluesmen were out tune/off key when playing their songs. They just played what sounded good to them. I've heard many say that Buddy Guy is always slightly off tuned when others are playing with him. One of the reasons that disciplined musicians of that time had such ill opinions of Blues musicians of that time. It was the same for many Roots Appalachian Country/Folk musicians as well.
There are those that have perfect pitch hearing and can match everything note for note and there's those that don't. I don't have perfect pitch, I had to train my ears to hear and the lowly pitch pipe helped with that over time.
CBG's definitely have their own voice and like any musical instrument, they can sound great, sound good or sound like crap. Hahaha
More thoughts on this. Originally liked the idea of having six strings and calling it a three string double neck. However. The thought accrued to me. If was was to play in front of a crowd it would be hard to convince people I was only using three or four strings. And in the end its the spirit and simplicity of the CBG that is more important to represent than the convenience of having six strings to choose from. It's the range of creativity you can get from just three or four strings. So just three or four strings should be represented to others on each guitar. So for each tuning I'll need a different guitar. Or a stage hand that doesn't want to get paid. : )
There is one other aspect of a CBG that throws long time guitar players a curve. The lack of a radius on the fretboard. We're used to anywhere from a 12 to 14 radius. This radius helps in string bending and vibrato. Because it fits the natural curve of the hand.
My work bench is becoming more of a reality. Going to get all the 2x4s ripped and squared this weekend. I've got all the wood. Just need the time to get it together. One done I'll have a real work area, Not a wobbly un level chunk of ply on two saw horses.
Back in the 80's and 90's Rock Band days, I was a rhythm guitar player. 95% percent of my time was spent playing 3 or 4 strings on my 6 string guitar in 1-5-1 chords with the occasional 4th or 3rd.
So I've been used to this for some time playing the 3 low strings for E bar chords or playing the 4 middle for A bar chords and the 4 high strings for D bar chords. This made it easy to go to CBG's.
My 6 string baritone scale dulcitar usually gets played on the 4 high strings, but you can play bar chords on the 5/4/3 strings or go bass/baritone on the low 6/5/4. Very versatile that allows you to play many parts of a song.
The CBG and Dulcimer have made me look at 6 string guitars in a different way now. Many possibilities at my fingertips, if the arthritis and nerve damge gives in for a while that is. ;)
Never damage myself. Took years to learn to hold things with my right hand without dropping them. My hand still gives out with a sharp pain every once in a wile. But now I've learned to keep holding what ever is in my hand.
I strung up a Less Paul copy with two tunings. Really easy to play. Just like what you said. The same as playing songs from rock bands. And convenient. However if I'm standing in front of an audience they will see six tuners and strings. It would be hard to convince them I'm only using three of them. But if there is only three tuners and strings they will instantly know what I'm doing is on only three strings. I'm not a blues man. Not sure what to call myself. Definitely not the blues. I use single and two notes to make variations of chords. One song is in C with the guitar in open G tuning. Another song is C minor with no open strings ever played. Still in an open G tuning. I've been spending a lot of time experimenting. Finding ways to get out as much as i can with just three strings in a 1 ,5, 8, tuning. There is so much you can do with this.