One Hour Guitar Project:  Turn an Antique Set of Bellows Into a 3-String Screaming Slide Guitar

The story of this freak instrument started with a bad purchase I made on eBay.  The seller listed this strange wooden piece as the body of an Appalachian banjo from the 1800’s.  As a collector of antique DIY instruments, I couldn’t pass up the $30 “buy it now” listing.  Unfortunately after inspecting it in person, the piece turned out to be the handle & half the body of a set of bellows for stoking a fire. 

Instead of sending it back, I turned it into this insane rat rod “Electric Bellows” three string guitar.  It only took me an hour to build it.  The shape of the bellows had the appearance of a solidbody musical instrument.  I simply added tuners, a pickup, fretboard and bridge.  

These are the parts I used:

  1. Wickedbucker Pickup – an ultra-thin, hand wound pickup created especially for cigar box guitar builders. This pickup required no routing.  I simply hardwired it to the jack.
  2. Three Guitar Tuners
  3. Three-Saddle Hard Tail Bridge, a Strat type of bridge made for cigar box guitars
  4. Strat-style jack plate – I mounted it upside-down, allowing minimal routing of the bellows body.
  5. Neutrik ¼” jack
  6. C. B. Gitty Acrylic Fretboard – 25” Scale for Cigar Box Guitar – These are fretless fingerboards, similar to ones used on lap steels. They’re great for slide-style instruments.
  7. A, D and G guitar strings from a pack of electric strings
  8. The nut is a section of a bolt
  9. Cheap Chinese Floyd Rose style string tree found on eBay. (I buy these by the dozen.  They’re awesome for cigar box guitar building.)

 

Because the antique bellows had a time-worn “neck,” there was zero sanding needed.  The only woodworking done to it was the three holes drilled for the tuners and a small amount of routing under the jack plate.  The hard tail bridge, Wickedbucker pickup and fretboard were all designed for top-mounting.  An electric screwdriver was all I needed to put them in.

A simple yardstick was used to measure the 25” scale and line up the Hard Tail bridge with the neck.  All other parts were eyeballed in place and screwed down!  There was very little planning and almost zero preparation.  When you become a parts hoarder and have a huge stash of fun things to choose from, instruments like this just seem to jump into existence. 

If you want to build an Electric Bellows, but don’t have an antique bellows laying around, you could cut out a similar shape on a plank of oak or poplar purchased at any big box hardware store. 

For those who are asking the question, “why would you build this in the first place,” I simply say, why not!  You never know what songs you’ll find hiding within an instrument you’ve built yourself.

Musician and author, Shane Speal is responsible for the resurgence of cigar box guitars in modern music. He fronts the DIY-instrument band, Shane Speal and the Snakes, curates the Cigar Box Guitar Museum inside Speal’s Tavern in New Alexandria, PA, and has made 2,000 cigar box guitars to date. His latest book, Making a Poor Man's Guitar (Fox Chapel Publishing, August 2018) combines DIY instrument projects with their deep blues history.

 

Views: 590

Reply to This

The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation?How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Forum

VIDEO LESSON: How to Play the FUNK on 3-string Cigar Box Guitar

Started by Shane Speal shanespeal.com in Feature Articles. Last reply by Poopshoe Jenkins 4 hours ago. 4 Replies

First build in years.

Started by Cause the Blue rat in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Korrigan 9 hours ago. 6 Replies

Bending a backing plate

Started by Titch the Clown in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Timothy Hunter yesterday. 8 Replies

Easy DIY Pre-Amp: Makes Piezo-Equipped Cigar Box Guitars Sound Better

Started by Shane Speal shanespeal.com in Feature Articles. Last reply by Titch the Clown on Wednesday. 25 Replies

Questions on wiring up two piezos.

Started by Cause the Blue rat in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Cause the Blue rat on Tuesday. 3 Replies

Music

Loading…

© 2018   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service