So I currently own a nice well-made 3-string CBG from a local experienced builder, and it is very nice and a high quality build, cost me $225 Canadian.

I also own a lower "quality" (not as fancy) single-string CBG (or diddley bow) from another Canadian builder, it is pretty much acoustic with an acoustic string, and only a piezo pick-up. I'll be keeping it acoustic because it's always good to have an acoustic on hand.

I just recently purchased another single string guitar from the same builder, only this time it uses a black cigar box and it has an electric string (by the looks of it, worst case scenario I can just buy an electric string). I've talked to the builder and they said they want people to be able to modify things easily, so they make it easy to "get inside" and that this version specifically as all the electronics located on the lid of the box, and all it takes is to remove a single screw to be able to open the box.

So my original plan is to:

1. Replace the piezo pickup with a real electric guitar pickup (already ordered, straight black, with volume and tone knobs as well).

2. Also, I want something that is quiet, and so I want to fill in all the empty space in the box so that there won't be much natural resonance. I also want to keep it relatively light weight and keep cost done, so what should I use to fill the box - cotton, foam, Styrofoam, etc?

3. Sand the neck and stain it, then put a layer or 2 of clear-coat on it. (got a small can of "red oak" in the garage kicking around).

However, I am also thinking of making it be able to "Self-amplify" as well, to make it a little special.

So for this I imagine I'd need a pair of small speaker drivers, and a small amplifier board, and to make sure they are compatible with each other.

Here's a picture of the single-string I ordered which should be coming in soon, and will be using as a base for this project. I think a red oak neck, and a black pickup and knobs will go good with this.

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Hi Kevin, That's a nice-looking CBG, I think it's worthy of at least two more strings haha.

I was wondering what is the noise you wish to keep quiet. packing the inside of an acoustic-electric guitar is normally done to limit feedback between guitar and amplifier.

I dought the amp you plan for the inside of your box would put out enough power to cause that problem, but I have not tried that. Also, the addition of the magnetic pickup, pots, speakers, and the amp will to an extent affect the natural air resonance in the box and the top. As would covering the soundholes.

Don't forget to earth the strings to the new pickup system, or you will get unwanted noise.

Hmmm, a single screw holding down the lid could contribute to unwanted noise, especially if speakers are attached to it.
Cheers Taff

Hi, your comments are important to us, please try again. The same old same old problem.
Visual mode isn't visual.

The guitar came in today, and it does look very nice, the pickup I ordered is still a ways away on it's way from California.

What I mean by wanting something quiet is something that won't make much sounds without electronic amplification of some sort, because I want to be able to play it at night while others in the house are sleeping, and son on. So that is why I am wanting to reduce resonance, etc by as much as possible.

The string that is currently on it, does indeed seem like it is electric, and there is one large screw on the back, and that will allow the back panel to be removed to get access to the "inside".

I am now figuring out, where I would want to place the pickup when I get it in. I'm most comfortable plucking just under the neck, and so depending on how much space there would be between the pickup and the string there, I may put it there. If there is too little space, I may have to place it more towards the center of the box.

My built-in-amp idea may be an additional modification later on.

Drilling holes with drill bits (for the knobs), through wood is something I can do easily. Carving an appreciate size opening in the lid for the pickup to be placed through, will be the real challenge.

building an amp into the guitar is not too hard. two factors will determine how hard... how loud do you want it?  that will determine the size of amp and size of speaker. power of the amp will be limited to power source or batteries you are going to use. 

i bought some tiny 3W amp boards from ebay for around $1 each. had to wait for the slow boat from china to deliver them. these have  2 channels at 3W each class D amps run off 5V. they are tiny about an inch long and 1.2 inch wide,no need for a heat sink so only 1/8 inch thick. easy to stuff inside a CBG. mine would need a preamp to use with a pickup but there are various amp modules around different voltages and power output etc.

that from CB Gitty would do or give you ideas...

Hi Kevin, to cut out the pickup hole you could keep your drill running after the volume and tone holes and follow the pickup outline with a series of small holes all linked as close together as possible, then with a knife or small saw cut through the holes and then tidy up with a file and /or sandpaper.


thanks for the replies so far.

yeah, following the outline and drilling small wholes could work, though I'd place them on the inside of the line, because I'd rather make a bit too small of an opening and have to sand or file to enlarge it, then make too big of an opening and have it look ugly afterwards.

Yep, that's the way to do it. I would also suggest scoring the outline with a sharp knife to prevent any tear-out from going outside your outline.

Well, the pickup came in today.

So now I will finally be able to do this soon. yay! probably tomorrow.

So, I did some work.

I got inside the box, removed the old piezo and output jack, and made the outline for where the pickup should go. So now, I have made some good progress.

I decided to wait for my father to help me cut out the spot for the pickup tomorrow, because I don't want anything to go wrong.


The pickup is now installed - I tested it and it works.

my dad cut the opening for the pickup a little to wide, so the little bit of black rubber is there temporarily to cover the gap. I'm thinking in the future to maybe make a small "pickguard" and install it around that side of the pickguard.

So now it's gonna be onto sanding and staining the neck. At least the most important, and "hardest" part is complete now. I think I'll just paint the little stub at the bottom black, to match the body.

Kevin, if you’re unsure or lacking in skills, the best thing to do is practice on scraps, or at least that was how I was taught? No harm, no foul?  If that gap bothers you, you can always make a trim piece to cover or just make a wider one using the original holes as a template? You’d be surprised what a little stained wood can do for those little boo boo’s! Cheers :)

Here's the "finished version" with the neck sanded, stained, and clear-coated, as well as the bottom piece painted black.


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