Building a Cigar Box Guitar 101

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Building a Cigar Box Guitar 101

This group is for discussing the basics of CBG building for newer builders - where to start, what to do, common pitfalls, tips and techniques.

Keep in mind that new builders can find other great informative articles on CBG building, as well as most of the parts you'll need, over at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply!

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Comment by Slow Blues Dani & Ol' Grey Bear on February 5, 2017 at 1:24am
Just got my copy of "Cigar box guitar technique for the three and four string" by Brent Robitaille (thanks for writing it Brent, awesome stuff) and I'm now thinking chords and possibly arpeggios on the slide guitars.

My question is on building though. Just got finished building an electric four string (not shared a video of it yet) and my string height is about 6-7 millimetres all along the neck. Shane Speal talks a lot about riding the middle string on three string with a stubby slide for the blues. I'm struggling with it though because my slide edge doesn't ride the neck, as in making contact, and instead catches and grates on the string above.

So just how high, or low, should string height be on a slide guitar for best playability?
Comment by Simon Cartlidge on February 1, 2017 at 6:04pm
Hey guys, there's a brand new social network for cbg fans, it says it's not an alternative to Facebook groups or here but designed to complement it all. There's even a dedicated app so you can keep track on the go. Looks like it could be really good but just needs members, maybe check it out


cbconsortium.mightybell.com
Comment by MadGomer on January 17, 2017 at 11:24pm

Yeah, screwing one of those eyes into an old piece of hickory is probably tougher than they were designed for!

Congrats on finishing up a great build!

Comment by Mark K on January 17, 2017 at 11:12pm
So to wrap my story up, I fiddled with the slots in the nut to make them pretty close, and used some eye screws as string retainers (hey if it's good enough for Justin's shovel guitar it's good enough for me) to get a nice angle and I think I have pretty much solved both the buzz and the slight height difference. Only issue I had was that the cheap crap eye screws they sell nowadays actually had the heads snap off even with a pilot hole more than deep enough. Now my only problem is the fretless guitar is spoiling me - when I use my slide on my fretted CBG I am banging the frets a lot because the action is so high on the hubcap git. Practice will fix that though - thanks again to all the folks here for the advice and encouragement.
Comment by Mark Bliss on January 15, 2017 at 8:45pm

"the D sits a little lower than the G's making some stuff harder to use my slide on...."

Dead easy to fix while you are at it.

While all my fretted setups compensate for string thickness on the bottom (fingerboard side) I would set-up for slide with the top surface even.

File the slots as needed for depth to achieve the above, while keeping the width just snug for the specific string gauge, and roll off the tuner side of the nut to approximate the string break over the nut. (I target 15 degrees. But whatever works.)

Comment by Mark K on January 15, 2017 at 7:13pm

Thanks folks - I am going to try Mark's suggestion first as its the cheapest and easiest (couple new strings, wind them down further, along with cleaning up the nut), if that doesn't work then a string retainer (primitive of course) will be figured out....

I kinda knew I'd have to address this - the D sits a little lower than the G's making some stuff harder to use my slide on....overall though I am pleased!

Comment by Mark Bliss on January 15, 2017 at 5:09pm

A string tree would also work, but if it were me, I'd try the previous recommendation first, as IMO the existing rustic look would be better retained without.

It looks to me as if leaving enough slack when stringing it up, so that the wind goes nearly to the bottom of the post would create plenty of angle.

Looks like the same tip might be a good idea on the high G as well.

Comment by Paul Craig on January 15, 2017 at 3:20pm

String break angle. The string is supposed to angle downwards towards the tuner, not straight in-plane to the tuner. Need a string retainer/string tree.

Comment by MadGomer on January 15, 2017 at 11:38am
What Mark Bliss said. Ideally you'll want all three strings having their last contact with the nut on a straight line, and also manage your slot depth so all three strings are in the same plane otherwise you'll have difficulties playing slide. Just takes a little time to get it all balanced, it's a very cool git, well worth the effort!
Comment by Mark Bliss on January 15, 2017 at 10:29am

New strings always stretch a while then settle in, that may be most of the wandering tuning issue.

Next time you string it up, I would try the following-

File the back side of the nut to allow the front edge to provide a clean break, and leave more string so you can wind down further on the tuner post, to provide more angle over the nut.

 

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