What are the best materials for my first build?
Ahhhh that word best,,, it's in every forum from growing flowers to building home built airplanes. For most first builds of anything, we want to use the "best" of materials to do our worst first build. I have seen master builders take the worst of materials and create some works of art. And beginners buy the best of materials to make mistakes and blunders with on their first build. I am guilty of the second. I have seen this observation in the different hobbies I have been in, wood working, taxidermy, CBG building, and now, "real" guitar building. (LOL) Folks just starting out will ask for advice on the "best" of this or the "best" of that to start out with, and we all say it, and all want the best advice for the best materials. Maybe the word has different meanings to the user of it. However, for this site, it cracks me up to see some people seeking super high expectations out of a cigar box, stick and strings. Words slung around here like sustain, ohms of pickup output, neck angle, 250 or 500 pots, shielding, winding wire size, and other technical guitar terms are creeping into the CBG tech area. I understand that there are those that want to put more horse power under the hood, and the coolness factor, I get it. I understand that.
I can see using the best of materials once you have some building skills in your bag of tricks, but for starting out on the first one, we really do not need the best of this or the best of that. Mini rant over.

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Uggggh, I'm trying not to get on a rant either, being I have an "opinion for everything", but...

... my take on CBG building is sorta like yours but more so the process of problem solving. I'm the first one to give out advice sometimes but 90% of my build problems I solve myself and that's what I think the challenge is in CBG construction. I always look at the photos section to get new ideas and see new techniques. I look at where bridges are placed, where pickups are placed, head designs, number of strings folks use. Name it, I prolly have seen something on it. Occasionally I do ask "where did you get that part" or "how did you make that..." but for the most part, I learn by reading and observing.

Let me challenge every new builder (I'm in computers and "newbie" still sounds derogatory to me) to take some time and read the great plans we have up on the site here, view about as many of our photos as one can stand, draw out or otherwise plan your first build and just make it. I was lucky in the sense my first build sounded fine. I did redo the neck but I'm an idiot like that (he he). Yes, ask questions of course, but first glean everything you can off the site (Secrets of the CBG Underground and Ted's Mad Scientist Lab groups are GREAT resources). Your first build will be just fine.

One thing that Ted caught me on last night is "don't overthink the problem". He pointed out that the solution was right in front of me. Look a all problems from a practical point and it will all make sense.

-Wes
Oh, come on! We go out and make an effort to get more members and than we "rant" about the questions they ask. I have seen no rule that anyone must read or respond to the disscussionson the forum. Pick the ones you feel you will be interested in and ignore the rest.

There is my rant...
The answer to the question ''BEST'' is whatever you've got.
I make full size guitars and I use a piece of pine that I cut down the center of the thin side to get my matchbook pieces to glue together.
Talk to anyone who has built guitars and they will tell you that spruce etc. is 'THE BEST'. Try a piece of pine and you will be very surprised. The tone from pine is exteremely good and pine is a cousin of spruce and I only started using in Ireland when I found a pine wardrobe was infested with woodworm. Couldn't throw it away so cut off the good stuff and had enough for over a dozen instruments. I guess I was in CBG mode even before I had heard of CBG's.
Just use whatever is around and surprise yourself with the results.
How about that not a rant in sight!
thank you
As a semi-newbie here, I think the question can be mapped onto a couple of concerns:

  • If I go down to HD / Lowes / TruValue and spend money, will I feel I have wasted it when the project is done?
  • If I try using something unusual, will it break the design? If so, do I have the skills / tools to fix it?
  • Will people laugh at my POS when I'm done?

Not everybody gets a rush from the "oh $#17" moment, even knowing that it may lead (after some agony) to "Aha!".

Maybe the best thing we can do is to articulate the ethic / aesthetic ("No rules, its OK to make mistakes, we'll help you fix it if we can") and then offer as much positive encouragement as possible to "just start making sawdust."
This thread is the best! :-)
Nope, nope/up to you* and nope.

* Usually if you can make it, you can fix it. Or better yet, feed your new addiction -- make the next one better :-)

Tres Seaver said:
As a semi-newbie here, I think the question can be mapped onto a couple of concerns:
  • If I go down to HD / Lowes / TruValue and spend money, will I feel I have wasted it when the project is done?
  • If I try using something unusual, will it break the design? If so, do I have the skills / tools to fix it?
  • Will people laugh at my POS when I'm done?

Not everybody gets a rush from the "oh $#17" moment, even knowing that it may lead (after some agony) to "Aha!".

Maybe the best thing we can do is to articulate the ethic / aesthetic ("No rules, its OK to make mistakes, we'll help you fix it if we can") and then offer as much positive encouragement as possible to "just start making sawdust."
I can get really theoretical and "hi falutin'" ( See my articles in "Wot no Articles") but my take on the best in CBGs be it materials or design is a nice twangy sound that is characteristic of a CBG, but which is not a characteristic if a full sized guitar. Whilst i adore the the masterpieces of CBGs that we see on this forum regularly, to me a CBG is a folk instrument, no rules, if it works for you then it is the "best".
Tres,

You can build a perfectly acceptable CBG that will play some nice blues/folk/rock/gospel... etc. with off the shelf materials from Lowes, Home Depot, etc, plus the cheapest strings you can buy, some recycle tuners from your local guitar repair guy's scrap box and a couple of bolts for bridge and nut.....and any cigar box you can get your hands on (I'd recommend a minimum 5 X 8 X 1 1/2 but have build playable CBGs under these minimums)

Beyond this, relax and learn as you go. The more you build, the more you will develop an intuitive sense about what to do to get a certain sound. The more you move away from an acoustic instrument, the less important box size, etc. is and the more important the setup of your electronic compoenents are.....

Just have fun, ask questions, those who want to help will, but... in the long run you're going to have to convince yourself that any of the advice you get was good or not by... building....

the best,

Wichita SAm

Tres Seaver said:
As a semi-newbie here, I think the question can be mapped onto a couple of concerns:

  • If I go down to HD / Lowes / TruValue and spend money, will I feel I have wasted it when the project is done?
  • If I try using something unusual, will it break the design? If so, do I have the skills / tools to fix it?
  • Will people laugh at my POS when I'm done?

Not everybody gets a rush from the "oh $#17" moment, even knowing that it may lead (after some agony) to "Aha!".

Maybe the best thing we can do is to articulate the ethic / aesthetic ("No rules, its OK to make mistakes, we'll help you fix it if we can") and then offer as much positive encouragement as possible to "just start making sawdust."
Wichita Sam said:
Tres,

You can build a perfectly acceptable CBG that will play some nice blues/folk/rock/gospel... etc. with off the shelf materials from Lowes, Home Depot, etc, plus the cheapest strings you can buy, some recycle tuners from your local guitar repair guy's scrap box and a couple of bolts for bridge and nut.....and any cigar box you can get your hands on (I'd recommend a minimum 5 X 8 X 1 1/2 but have build playable CBGs under these minimums)

Beyond this, relax and learn as you go. The more you build, the more you will develop an intuitive sense about what to do to get a certain sound. The more you move away from an acoustic instrument, the less important box size, etc. is and the more important the setup of your electronic compoenents are.....

Just have fun, ask questions, those who want to help will, but... in the long run you're going to have to convince yourself that any of the advice you get was good or not by... building....

the best,

Wichita SAm

Hmm, I guess I didn't make myself clear: I was trying to articulate reasons why some new builders are asking for advice about the "best" (material, plan, box, etc.). I think such questions are often driven by fears like those I articulated. As it happens, I'm cantankerous / determined / bullheaded enough that those fears aren't keeping me from building. I *have* avoided some trickier technique to date (scarf necks, for instance) because I wanted to get a few builds under my belt, and save up the marital brownie points for some tools. ;)
Like the idea of the marital Brownie points! A bunch of flowers works better in my house than a tune on the GBG. I often try her with "Jeannie with the light brown hair" All romantic like (her name is Jean) But the bunch of flowers goes best! I wonder why?
To get back to "best". We all want to create acceptable and decent CBGs, it is in us not to want to look foolish or useless. So as part of our homework we look for those things ( ie the best) that will increase our chances of at least some degree of "success and or acceptance"
We can argue about Shane being the "best" exponent of CBG currently, but just look at that "terrible looking" CBG he is playing in his recent videos. Some might say "I would not be seen dead with a CBG like that". As for me, i would not care if I played a bunch of firewood if i could play like him! Who cares about packaging except for the "marketing people" in our society.



Hmm, I guess I didn't make myself clear: I was trying to articulate reasons why some new builders are asking for advice about the "best" (material, plan, box, etc.). I think such questions are often driven by fears like those I articulated. As it happens, I'm cantankerous / determined / bullheaded enough that those fears aren't keeping me from building. I *have* avoided some trickier technique to date (scarf necks, for instance) because I wanted to get a few builds under my belt, and save up the marital brownie points for some tools. ;)
As a relative newbie here myself I fully understand the "best" questions. Yes, just about anything goes and experimentation is key in making instruments like this, but, to encourage a newbie wouldn't we want his first steps into this realm to produce a good playable instrument?

Many here have never even played a guitar or if we have it was 20 years ago. We would do well with some basic "best" info to at least give them an instrument that will produce reasonable best results. If one has never played and is going to learn they probably would want to know if a fretless slide, or fretted style is a good start. How about three strings or four and what is a good tuning to start to learn on. Is there a minimum box size that will get a decent sound, is an all wood box all one can use or will a cardboard one produce a reasonable sound? While there is no "best" we want a newbie to produce a first guitar than encourages, rather than discourages their progress.

For some, any first instruments faults will serve to motivate them on to the next, but if unplayable, or too difficult to learn on it may stop them dead in their tracks.

My path had me buying an inexpensive, but really well made fretless 3 string on ebay to learn on as I gather materials for a primitive rat rod that will look the way I want. I am going to be away from my shop for a few weeks and didn't want to wait until then to build a CBG, so went with ready made just to know I had a workable tool to learn the basics on. Shane's latest "How To Play" is a great start to at least get me making sound. The only thing I would add is having him walk a newbie through a basic blues tune just so one could sit back and say "well, I played something anyway". having one under your belt goes a long way to wanting to learn more.

My rant.

Tony

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