Several folks have asked me to build six strings for them.  I've only done three and four to date.  Outside of a wider fretboard is there anything I need to do differently?  Do I have to radius the neck (whatever that means and what you use to do it with)?  Looking for some direction and advice.  Thanks!

 

Doug

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With six strings you are getting in into the territory of standard guitars, and a lot depends on the expectations of the customer. Many of them will expect the neck to feel and play pretty much like a conventional instrument..and indeed  I frequently use stock bought-in 6 string necks on my builds.  It's vital to find out what your customer wants and what sort of thing they expect to play on it, but in my experience this means several things:

 

Playability has to be similar to a conventional 6 string guitar. 

Work out in advance what the neck width, profile and taper will be.

You'll need an adjustable truss rod or fixed steel reinforcement.

The whole instrument will have to cope with greatly increased string tension loading compared to a 3 string

Determine if they have a preferred scale length, fret profile etc.

Ask whether they want a flat or radiused fretboard - some players will be very specific on exactly what radius they want...either that or you tell them what they are getting!

 

Unfortunately, people wanting 6 string guitars generally expect them to play like a regular shop-bought guitar, so you really need to be sure if you can deliver on that. It can become a pain, as people can be very demanding and fussy with 6 strings - they won't tolerate buzzes, inaccurate intonation, high action etc.

 

 

Thanks, CB. Makes sense.  I'd be flexible, very willing to compromise on my precision expectations to enjoy the folksy funk of a 6-string CBG.

But I would need the neck scale that enables me to play a bit above the Octave...like, I'd pass on a 12-frets to the body Duolian. On the other hand, radius isn't gonna be important to me.

So what are some of y'alls' playing as well as building experiences with 6-string CBGs?

Doug 

Excellent advice!  I'd be making a leap to do a 6 string for anybody at this point.  For the time being I'm going to stick to what I know and refine those skills.  Thanks so much!

ChickenboneJohn said:

With six strings you are getting in into the territory of standard guitars, and a lot depends on the expectations of the customer. Many of them will expect the neck to feel and play pretty much like a conventional instrument..and indeed  I frequently use stock bought-in 6 string necks on my builds.  It's vital to find out what your customer wants and what sort of thing they expect to play on it, but in my experience this means several things:

 

Playability has to be similar to a conventional 6 string guitar. 

Work out in advance what the neck width, profile and taper will be.

You'll need an adjustable truss rod or fixed steel reinforcement.

The whole instrument will have to cope with greatly increased string tension loading compared to a 3 string

Determine if they have a preferred scale length, fret profile etc.

Ask whether they want a flat or radiused fretboard - some players will be very specific on exactly what radius they want...either that or you tell them what they are getting!

 

Unfortunately, people wanting 6 string guitars generally expect them to play like a regular shop-bought guitar, so you really need to be sure if you can deliver on that. It can become a pain, as people can be very demanding and fussy with 6 strings - they won't tolerate buzzes, inaccurate intonation, high action etc.

 

 

Totally agree with Chickebone. The time and effort you would have to put into making a six string neck would make the guitar very pricy. If done wrong your client will end up with a harp. If you still want to use a real cigar box I'd put 3/4 inch plywood on the back. Run a hardwood board threw the body. Make sure the bridge is very secure to the wood. With no space between the top of the box and the wood under the bridge. Use some filler to clean up the ply. Paint the sides and back. Finish the box. You'll have the real thing. 

Listen to  Chickenbone. If you have people wanting six stringers, it would  be important  to  find  out if  they have  played  3 or  4 string CBGs. If  not, they likely want a  guitar that feels  and  plays like  a  production six  stringer, but  with  the CBG look. That  could end  up being a tough  customer to satisfy. 

It depends..

You could go to a 2nd hand store, buy a 6 stringer and basically just cut the body down to fit inside a CBG box.

If you do this then be careful with your bridge height. Since it's a bolt on you can shim the neck to fit the new bridge height. Little bit of jiggleing the electronics to fit the new box.

Yes it's a cheat and it's purely cosmetic. Have a word with the person who wants the instrument.

You will also need to know how much of an acoustic sound they are expecting the guitar to have. A cigar box full of solid timber [to my ear] is going to be an electric guitar. I have always built my guitars [CBGs] to have the best acoustic tone and volume I can get, then add the pickup so that it has as little effect on the acoustic properties as possible. That way the customer gets the best of both worlds. I think there's nothing worse [to me] than have a guitar that you have to plug in to enjoy it all the time.

I also make the customer aware of the reason for this style of instrument, and its history, and the style of music it is best suited to.

Cheers Taff

Maybe I don't really want a 6-string CBG... thanks for the sobering advice.

Doug

Take something like this.. 

Cut it thinner, run it right inside a cigar box with the wood right under the lid. Fit the electronics. Boom. Instant faked 6 string CBG.

or like this

Hey, Fom, this is exactly what came out of the Gibson plant in the early 1960s.  One of the staff got permission to take an old plank that was set up to be a neck-through and completed it, without the wings.  It's now a collectors' guitar featured in a recent Vintage Guitar Magazine.

...And this approach will never be close to a CBG.

Yeah true. I would call it a fake CBG even if it's wrapped in a real CB. 

Still though, it's a real easy way to build a 6 string that looks like a CBG. Also, on reflection.. It's out duty to destroy as many fake Stratocasters as physically possible without taking petrol bombs to guitar shops. 

Edit.. I do like telecasters though and would have one in a heartbeat. 

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