My former coworker gave me a couple of cigar boxes with all of the hardware, because he never got around to putting them together. I'm decent with woodworking but I know next to nothing about musical instruments.
Do I need to have specific measurements for the length of the neck, placing/size of the hole, etc. or do I just put it together however I think is aesthetically pleasing and then tune the strings until they play the correct note?
If you do not follow the mathematical guidelines of string & scale length, you will end up with guitars that will never be in tune, nor sound any good? There are plenty of discussions on this topic to be searched, the Search box is way at the top right of the page? Also look at the Resources tab for plans, as well as the cigarboxguitar.com archive at the bottom right & the Essential pages link to building basics discussion also on the right side of the page? Here’s a step by step of how to build a simple cbg, it has all the stuff you’re looking for?
to qualify what BrianQ said those measurements of scale length and fret placement are needed if you are fretting the guitar neck. if you are making them for slide playing then tune string to pitch will work ok. Using a common scale will let you place marks on the neck where frets should be and will make playing a bit less hit and miss. using the common scale lengths of 25 1/2 inch for fender scale and 24 3/4 inch for a Gibson will set you on the path to fretted instruments later on. Lets face it after you build those two you will be bitten by the CBG bug...lol
1) the nomenclature is designed by a sadistic evil scientist. the string which is strung on top is the low string, the string strung on the bottom is the high string, fretting closer to the bridge, and there fore closer to the floor, plays a higher note...
2) if the neck length is not marked, measure from the nut ( where the string begins its long unsupported run to the bridge ) to the twelfth fret. double that for the nut to bridge distance.
3) yeah, right,buddy. actually that is a "no less than" distance. the actual distance is determined by tuning to the desired note; fretting at #12 fret, and playing again. thicker strings will require a longer distance. if you set the bridge for a 25 1/2" neck at 25 1/2" it will return G# at the twelfth fret. move the bridge for the thicker G string back until you get just plain G at the twelfth fret. You may need to move the bridge back somewhat less to get g ( the high g string ) on the twelfth fret. this is why you frequently see the bridge angled back at the top, and why you do not fasten it to the top. this procedure has a name: intonation
4) back to that nut: if you use a round nut, a bolt or lag screw, the location of the nut is the top of that round thing. if you use a rectangular nut the location of the nut is the back ot that rectangle. regardless of nut shape or material, you measure the distance to the frets from the point of contact of string to nut, but keep in mind that the geometry of the nut can shift that point of contact by an eight of an inch or 3 millimeters, and if you don't take this into account your frets can be off by about the width of a fret
5) if you build a resonator, and you want the bridge in the middle of the resonator, put the center of the resonator either at the neck length, or about an eight of an inch or 3 millimeters back, to get it centered when you intonate the guitar.
6) or use a stratocaster bridge https://www.cbgitty.com/guitar-instrument-parts/bridges-and-nuts/3-...
" if you use a rectangular nut the location of the nut is the back of that rectangle"
In my mind, I always called the vibrating string side of the nut the front. For that is the important, business side of the nut. ;)
so YOU are the sadistic evil scientist?
Hi, you just beat me to that same comment Carl, thought it might have been a typo.
It is accepted that the scale length is the vibrating length of a string. Calculating from the back of the nut will change the vibrating length of the string by the width of the top of that nut.
Let us not forget that when setting intonation the "action" or string height at the twelfth fret also plays a part in saddle positioning.
Possibly the suggestion of placing a resonator cone at the neck length may be a typo. Maybe should read scale length.
Simple answer: refer to these free plans as a great starting point resource