Grounding: Is it necessary for all electric cigar boxes; piezzo vs "normal pickups'?

Planning my first build and have read a few articles about grounding the instrument when building an electric guitar cigar box. However, I don't see these recommendations very often. It seems most builds don't talk about this. How important is it, and is it recommended for all electric CBGs or just certain builds (piezzo, P-90s, mini humbuckers, match book pick up, etc...)? Thank you

Views: 238

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Well, if you use a magnetic pickup (P90, Humbuckers, single wound, etc,) you should consider grounding the strings as part of your build plan. The strings really are antenna that can pick up signals from lights, other electrical devices and such.

Depending on the type of mag pickup you use and the quality, you may get away without grounding the strings, but it's a crap-shoot and you may end up trying to figure out how to ground strings after the build is completed. To me it's a pain in the butt to try to go back and do the grounding.

It doesn't have to be a complicated process. If you use a metallic bridge (bolt, dowel rod, etc., then all you have to do is ground one string and it will connect electrically with the other strings via the bridge.

With a piezo pickup you may be okay without grounding if the piezo wires are wound around one another. I could be wrong here, but I've never had a piezo guitar where touching the strings changed the "buzz". Hopefully the Piezo-pro will weight in soon.

Thank you for the feedback. This is very helpful. I am trying to do my research now so I can plan and increase my chances of getting a product I am happy with.

I think that planning your project is a really good idea. You will learn a lot through planning and even more in building. Just keep in mind that this is your first CBG..Make it as good as possible, but you have to understand that there will be a second (and a third). It's a very habit forming endeavor and by the time you finish one you will just "know" that you can do better on the next one. All in all it's a lot of fun both building, playing and learning.

Only necessary for magnetic pickups.

It is generally a good practice whenever your guitar MIGHT  have electrical components, it is very, very easy to have everything grounded generally, sometimes the strings take a bit of planning/ thought, but it definitely eliminates 1 source of possible elect. interference, planning the circuit so that everything is grounded in series will also help to avoid a ground loop, I have guitars with minimal grounding from my early builds, I had no issues luckily, but once I had my 1st git that screamed loudly I've grounded everything

I've done a fair amount of wiring work both on CBGs and conventional guitars/basses, plus I've built several DIY synthesizers and effects pedals. My general advice is you can't overground. Some circuits seem to be really quiet with minimal grounding while others hum a lot, even if you ground every component. I think different pots and whatnot just pick up the noise differently.

In general, circuits with more components (pots, switches, etc) tend to be more hum prone, but again, I've seen some that are very quiet, so it just seems to be a case by case basis. I often run a ground wire on every component if I'm trying to fix hum. On my recent CBG builds, I started mounting a small steel plate inside the box to give me something to ground to if needed. It makes it really easy to add a ground on the bridge, jack, switch, etc.

I'm kinda being long winded here, but I guess I'm saying it varies a lot from instrument to instrument, and component to component. The important part is to test it out and add more grounding wires if necessary. Once in a while you find one that is just hum prone no matter how much grounding you do, but typically you can quiet them down with a little extra grounding. And while magnetic pickups seem to be more likely to hum, I've certainly seen piezo circuits that are noisy too. The hum might not come from the pickup itself, but if you've you've got pots, switches, etc... that's a potential source of hum whether the pickup is magnetic or not.

Hi, I find the easiest way to ground the strings is to use a metal tailpiece and run a wire to that. If it's a wooden tailpiece get inventive.

Keep in mind d that hum can come from the amp, lighting in the room, a cheep lead and even appliances running in another room but on the same power circuit.


Also it depends mainly on the quality of your soldering, that’s what really causes a lot of hum? 

Wow!! Thanks everyone for the great discussion. This was all VERY helpful, especially the picture (worth a thousand words!) This has helped a lot. I guess I WILL be grounding my instrument. 


The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building Basics

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources


String grounding

Started by John B Treutlein in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Taffy Evans 7 hours ago. 1 Reply


Started by Jerry Draper in Using - posting, profiles, web help. Last reply by John B Treutlein 22 hours ago. 12 Replies

Neck though corner

Started by Engblom in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Infirmity Citrus President Jan 28. 2 Replies

Canjo pickups

Started by David Blackburn in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Byrd Franklin Dec 22, 2022. 5 Replies

Blog Posts

A Tribute

Posted by Ghostbuttons on January 15, 2023 at 12:00pm 1 Comment

Let’s talk Aeolian…

Posted by BrianQ. on August 26, 2022 at 5:05pm 0 Comments

Latest Activity

Uncle John commented on AGP #'s photo
38 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Doug Thorsvik's video
39 minutes ago
Bernie Edwards commented on AGP #'s photo
5 hours ago
Taffy Evans liked Jerry Draper's discussion DYI Box
7 hours ago
Taffy Evans replied to John B Treutlein's discussion String grounding
"Hi, it will be ok, but if using a piezo pickup there is no need to earth to the strings. This is…"
7 hours ago
AGP # posted photos
8 hours ago
A.D.EKER commented on Poorness Studios's video

My 5 WORST Musical Creations (least useful DIY instruments)

"and Thats What Counts!! thanks for showing us ,to do a voice over,whit your own Music and special…"
12 hours ago
John B Treutlein liked John B Treutlein's discussion New member with a new build nearly done
12 hours ago
John B Treutlein replied to John B Treutlein's discussion New member with a new build nearly done
"Thank you Taffy,appreciate the help,I just finished grounding for the strings and the next step is…"
12 hours ago
A.D.EKER commented on A.D.EKER's video

FORD Hubcap slide BCB 2023

"Hia Keith ! thank you for your LIKE Vote ! Here  at BcB we do like your effort  ,we do…"
12 hours ago
John B Treutlein posted discussions
13 hours ago
Doug Thorsvik posted a video

Devil in Disguise: 2-String Surf SLG License Plate Guitar (Not a Cigar Box Guitar)

Cigar Box Guitar Slingers - Spokane, 139th Zoom Mtg 01/30/23. Only 1-finger chords, free songbooks here: Main Songbook...
14 hours ago


© 2023   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->