I've been trying figure out how to simulate distortion effect FOR MY ACOUSTIC CIGAR BOX GUITAR--without electrifying it! Any thoughts, beyond creating cracks in the wood?

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You might try putting some pennies or small metal scraps inside. They might jungle around.
I joined this group to help out on topics just like this one!!!

If you know anything about distortions and overdrives, then you're familiar with clipping diodes.
If not--then I'll explain.
Diodes are used in distortions and ODs to clip the signal--that's where the magical growl comes from.
They are in the signal path to ground.
There are two types of clipping: symmetrical and asymmetrical.
Symmetrical is when you have the same amount of diodes on each side. Asymmetrical is when you have, say 2 diodes on one side and 1 diode on the other.

Now, onto your topic. You can simulate that very easily, and inexpensively in your CBG.
Just buy two diodes and wire them together and solder into your CBG's harness--right before the volume pot.
There are a few in the market you can buy--one is called Black Ice.
But, why spend that much when you can make the same thing for 50 cents?????

There are also several types of diodes, so you might want ti research them and decide the best choice.
As your circuit is passive, it won't make a huge difference.
I recommend the good 'ol silicon type 1N914.
You could also use LEDs. Yep--those are diodes!


Here are a few links to tuts on how to do it:

http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/blackice.htm

http://m.instructables.com/id/Passive-Guitar-Overdrive-Black-Ice/


Here's some really good reading to understand some of what explained:


http://www.generalguitargadgets.com/richardo/distortion/

Back in the 1980's Will Sergeant of Echo & the Bunnymen used to attach paperclips to his guitar strings. In his own words ,he would "twat it one" Thus producing the desired distortion effect. 

In my early days messing around with stuff I tried winding loose strings in a figure of 8 type loop between the strings right up beside the bridge.. Try it out it makes wierd noise, might be what your looking for.

I was also attaching small objects at the higher harmonic points of the string near the bridge ( about 2 -5 cm up the string ) enough to be fixed but loose enough to rattle. 

Also.. Two strings nearly tuned to each other produces a pulsing effect.. You could look into that.

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