I know a lot of folks like to use big deep boxes for volume reasons. Likewise, I understand that lighter generally means louder. So here's my rock and a hard place, I'll be making cbgs for street buskin' hobos. It needs to be loud enough to hear over traffic, but durable, and small enough to carry around all the time. I was thinking, short neck and heavy strings might be a good start.  Any input on how to best achieve the durable, small, loud trifecta  would be greatly appreciated.

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Hi mardi, the most important sound producing part of a guitar is the top. You nead a responsive top that will react quickly to the strings vibration. The smaller the soundhole more bass larger hole more treble. The bridge needs to be in the best position on the top, about a third of the way up from the tail end.
As far as size goes regarding volume, my handmade parlour guitars are as loud as many larger factory guitars, so the way the instrument is built is as important a factor as size of the body re volume. Of course the back and side materials are also important, you don't want to be soaking up sound in the body but projecting it. I would think that in the environment you are talking about treble tone may cut through traffic better than a more bassy tone. I built a few prototypes using the above guidelines to allow me to finally settle on my model of CBG, but I keep changing things along the way. Much of the above matters little if the player uses a small buskers amp.
Cheers Taff

In the seventies my brother built a dozen of guitars for busking, they were big, light, long scale and loud:

P.S. the pickup is an actual addition only, as busking with amps wasn't well seen

I checked my simple and cheap CBGs which one I would take for busking: I think this one:
Partagas or Montecristo box, bottom of the box used as soundboard, it's thinner than the lid
neck through construction, neck doesn't touch the soundboard nor the lid of the box
big round 2.5 to 3.0 inch sound hole for trebbly sound
lid fixed tight with screws, box will sound louder than if unfixed
23.0 to 23.5 inch scale
tuned DAd, strings .012 / .017 / .026

If you match the tone of the box to the tunung you use you will get a loder sound this is why a violin is tuned high and a double bass is tuned low.

Otherwise What everybody else said and keep it light.

Titch you're right, as a small instrument a cigarbox mandolin could be the best solution: from the acoustic only jam session take with background noise, first video on


we can compare the actual felt loudness of a mandolin, a dreadnought, a banjo and a lap steel.

By the way: somebody around here who recognizes the unknown banjo and lap steel players?

Main problem with Mandos is the string breakage rate.

Steel strings drive the top better and in pairs they really do double duty but you pay the price for the high tension. Skill is the other issue. Open tunings are easier to play fewer strings easier to tune for the unskilled as well. Tahitian uke tuning where you use 8 strings in 4 pairs using nothing but 20lb fishing line with the two middle sets of strings tuned an octave higher than on a standard uke is a hoot.

Experiment with the setup. Talk to the person you want to give the instrument to about what tgey can manage.

Thanks Titch, never heard before of a Tahitian ukulele: a really hot hint for a small, sturdy and loud instrument, I found even


with dimensions, scale is given with 15 inch. There's even more information about Tahitian ukuleles on this CBN site, among other Titch's video:


Sure a mandoline is not suitable for a hobo busker, not for its fragility nor for the playing technique required neither, I only tried to give a hint about how to search for a solution.


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