This is my first attempt at a cigar box fiddle, I have never played a violin or the fiddle, but I wanted to build one.

 

I had it in an all wood box, but it was too wide, so I switched it to this box I picked up at the local smoke shop.

 

I loosely followed the 1940's plans, but I thought a broomstick for a neck, I can do better then that...which led to other issues. The Ukelele tuners wouldn't fit thru my neck like on the plans, so I made a make shift peg box.

 

I didn't have a 1 inch drop from the top of the box to the neck, so I made a make shift fingerboard  lifter...a piece of wood and a dowel. LOL

 

I had the tail piece at the back of the box, but I bought a couple sets of strings from ebay for $2.49 a set, and the G string wouldn't reach the tuners...it was too short.  So I moved the tail piece forward, and still wound up breaking the G string from both sets of my strings.

 

The 3 remaining strings are tuned currently at C#, F#, D#...almost to D, A, E but I feel if I keep tightening them, they are going to break.

 

Anyway, here are some pics and a youtube video....I don't know how to play, but you can hear it makes noise. LOL

 

Oh, I had a bridge I bought on Ebay for $2.99 and I broke that...I was focused on reaching pich and not watching the bridge, so it snapped in half and I had to make a new one.

 

The pics are of the fiddle and the inside of the box, I did try to do a bass bar and sound post, not sure if they affect it at all, but they are in there. :-)

 

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Surprisingly, it sounds rather a lot like mine. I went to the music store for strings, and they gave me a standard set of Martin lights (acoustic guitar). You use the "top" four minus the bass strings.
Thanks, I was wondering if I had to use violin strings or if I could use guitar strings, I did drag my bow across my 3 string Cigar box guitar and it did make sound, so I thought maybe guitar strings would work.

Hi there,

yes, this type of cigar box fiddle does tend to sound like a rebec rather than a modern fiddle. There is nothing wrong with this - a rebec often had 3 strings. I've built a couple of cigar box type fiddles and they have all been huge fun to play.

As a matter of interest, from your photo of the inside of the fiddle, did you glue the bass bar to the inside of the lid/top?

The Bass bar is glued to the inside of the box, just below the lid, its not actually glued to the lid itself, I tried to eyeball approximately where the lid would come down at and get it so it would be close, but I don't know if it actually comes in contact with the lid. I guess I could of made the bass bar level with the sound post, that would of ensured it contacts the lid. 

Yellowbelly Flatt said:

Hi there,

yes, this type of cigar box fiddle does tend to sound like a rebec rather than a modern fiddle. There is nothing wrong with this - a rebec often had 3 strings. I've built a couple of cigar box type fiddles and they have all been huge fun to play.

As a matter of interest, from your photo of the inside of the fiddle, did you glue the bass bar to the inside of the lid/top?

Hey, sounds like a fiddle!  I would be pleased with that.

Just as a point of interest - and you should be proud of what you've built, and remember, there are no rules - the bass bar would be about 1/4" square and fit under the bridge, to the bass side of the instrument and run from about the tail piece to about the fingerboard and is fitted to the underside of the top of the fiddle.

 

But, who cares, you have a great looking fiddle that does what a fiddle does. Good luck to you.

Question about using guitar string, do you tune them to match what a violin should sound like?

I have been going by this online tuner at

http://www.fretlessfingerguides.com/violin_tuner.html


And I also have a digital clip on.

 

The top 4 minus the bass strings on a guitar are D G B E, and on a violin its G D A E, and the D on the violin sounds an octave higher then a guitar D when you pluck the string.  So, do I use the guitar strings in the same order as I would on a guitar, and can they be tuned to proper pitch?

 

Anyway, I ordered 2 sets of martin light acoustic strings from Musicians Friend for $3.45/set, at my local store they probably would of been $15/set.  I live in a small town and only one music store, so he gets away with it. LOL everything seems like its 5 x more then online pricing. :-)

 

Mark Werner said:

Surprisingly, it sounds rather a lot like mine. I went to the music store for strings, and they gave me a standard set of Martin lights (acoustic guitar). You use the "top" four minus the bass strings.

That's a neat idea on the pegbox; I've tried a couple of fiddle using those old plans but using regular violin pegs and a 1 inch dowel for the neck; works okayish but it's tricky guiding the strings.  I'm using the eyescrew for the middle two pegs, couldn't quite figure out the instructions for the outer two strings, it says something about binding a piece of wire and passing them under but the picture is pretty blurry, so I am using a little nail to guide the E string.  Oh yeah, originally built it as just a two string so that I didn't have to figure out the guides for the outer strings and so I could have a flat fingerboard (piece of red oak craft board from Lowes), but I added on an e string.  Might try a g too, but I have a feeling that the flat board won't work for that one.

 

Anyway, I've started a little proof of concept tonight, filing down a piece of dowel and glueing a bit of that craft board on either side with titebond 2, hopefully I can file down the dowel some more and get a decent peg box out of it that will hold up to stress.  might work a lot better than the pegs straight through the dowel.

Sounds like its coming together for you.  I am still having string issues....guitar strings were suggested, but they are way too long and putting way to much stress on my screw eye that the tailpiece is attached to. Currently waiting on the postal service for some more actual violin strings and a real tailpiece and gut.  I think my problem might have been in the wire I was using to attach my home made tailpiece, I think the aluminum wire was giving to much, making it difficult to reach pitch before breaking a string...every time I would get one string tuned, tuning the next would cause it to go out of tune again, until they eventually break.  Fun project, I probably have more money in to little pieces then it would of cost me to buy an actual violin. LOL but the fun is building your own. :-)

Boyd Bostick said:

That's a neat idea on the pegbox; I've tried a couple of fiddle using those old plans but using regular violin pegs and a 1 inch dowel for the neck; works okayish but it's tricky guiding the strings.  I'm using the eyescrew for the middle two pegs, couldn't quite figure out the instructions for the outer two strings, it says something about binding a piece of wire and passing them under but the picture is pretty blurry, so I am using a little nail to guide the E string.  Oh yeah, originally built it as just a two string so that I didn't have to figure out the guides for the outer strings and so I could have a flat fingerboard (piece of red oak craft board from Lowes), but I added on an e string.  Might try a g too, but I have a feeling that the flat board won't work for that one.

 

Anyway, I've started a little proof of concept tonight, filing down a piece of dowel and glueing a bit of that craft board on either side with titebond 2, hopefully I can file down the dowel some more and get a decent peg box out of it that will hold up to stress.  might work a lot better than the pegs straight through the dowel.

That's a great little fiddle -- well done!  I think you'll have a much better time when you have your real fiddle strings.  Steel ones are not that expensive for a set, they are generally louder and a bit more harsh so might be just the thing.  Fiddle strings are made to stand up to the higher stress of a fiddle  -- they are strung really tight!  Be sure you use lots of rosin on your bow to start -- it takes a while for it to get conditioned if the hair is brand new.

 

Like these: 

 

http://www.juststrings.com/lab-680.html

 

http://www.juststrings.com/sps-ss210pe-4-4m.html

 

 

 

Thanks, I started with Violin strings, but I was getting them off ebay for $2.99, probably was part of the problem. The ones I am waiting on now, are StartRight Strings...they say they are good quality...hopefully they are.

 

I almost wish it wasn't a pain to change the box again, I just got some boxes I ordered yesterday, and when I ordered them, I asked if I could get at least one that was a specific size. Well, I got an email back saying unfortunately, I could not request a specific size...but then when I got them, I had one box that was as I requested. Don't know if it was luck or if someone actually found it for me. LOL I have one box, that is like 10 5/8 x 5 3/8 x 2...a little less wide then the one I used and longer...it would be perfect for a fiddle I think, but I don't think I want to change the box now.

 

I ordered 10 boxes for $10 and free shipping from Thompson Cigar, actually got some really decent boxes for instruments..I am pleased. :-)

when you put them on, put on one and just tighten it to take out the slack, don't bring it up to pitch.  Then add the others the same way.  Then you bring them all up a bit at a time one after the other, so the stress on  them is gradual and even.  You'll be less likely to lose one that way.  Also, check your tail and pegs, there might be a sharp edge or angle that is snapping the strings.  Violin strings can be very fussy.

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