Am I the only builder around who solely builds un-fretted, stringed instruments? Many builders here on CBN (and elsewhere) make some truly beautiful looking and sounding CBG's. Most, it seems, have moved onto more intricate builds: fully fretted, multiple pickups, etc. I tried fretting once about seven years ago, and it was a disaster; I basically swore I would never attempt it again. I do use magnetic pickups every so often, but I prefer rod and disk piezo's mainly because of the sound. Honestly they are easier, too.
Now I know, I can certainly learn to fret a neck, I just do not see the need...at least for myself. Even though I have sold and gifted quite a few fretless CBG's, I build them for me, for the sake of having a creative outlet. I build them because I cannot not build them. Same with playing CBG's, I play them for the creativity aspect. There are plenty of fine builders out there I could direct a potential customer to for a badass custom build with all the bells and whistles. Everyone of my builds have "errors or happy accidents", etc, but these errors do not affect the sound. Every git I build sounds good (at least to me) and raw; actually they sound awesome per my customers. I do not ever want my gits sounding like anything, but a raw CBG. That being said, I guess I will keep my builds Spartan, to the Athens of other builders. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Also, if you care to share: I am curious to know what motivates others to build CBG's, Dddley Bows, canjos, etc? What is the draw for you?
I’m not necessarily what you’re looking for as far as “slide only” but I hear you loud and clear on the “happy accidents.” I’ve built a few slides, but it’s just not my playing style, so they usually end up recycled. Your remarks about fretting mirrors my experience with pickups. I’ve tried, and they don’t do it for me. With the way some folks trick out their instruments with electronics the cigar box becomes little more than an incidental casing or an aesthetic choice. With my bad experience with pickups I just try to get best available sound out of the box.
But what I really like is the question of motivation. I started learning guitar to better appreciate the music I was listening to. I never got to be great, merely passable. Once hooked, I wanted to learn more about how guitars worked. At that point I encountered CBGs. Once again not great but passable, but I get to make something at the collision point of math, science, art, music, and fun. That’s my motivation.
Fretted, fretless, acoustic, electric, whatever floats your boat. They’re all good as long as we’re building & playing them like a good builder should. Don’t count yourself out after one failed attempt (reflect, research & refine your approach with practice & help from others) or scratch your head & watch some videos, I heard that actually works :) Personally, I like em all, especially when builders are playing their own creations? Flatpup & Flatbucker style pickups are a super duper easy alternative to conventional Magnetic & Piezo pickups? You can stick em on with double-sided tape or hot glue & they don’t need a preamp, so you don’t need a battery or external power? And they don’t amplify every bump & scratch against the box, even if you ghost them under the lid? Whatever your passion may be, just keep building it, playing it & most importantly, have fun doing it… Cheers, good luck to all future builds my friends!!! :)
I just re-read the Cigar Box Guitar Manifesto, and I am reassured in what I build. I am also reassured in what You build, as well.
Rock on brothers and sisters!
I still consider myself a beginner and every build offers new challenges and solutions, but out of the builds I've done so far (I'm on #11 and #12) I have yet to build a fretted one that I'm totally happy with. All of them have been pretty good sliders, which is fine because that's what I love to play anyhow. Still, if for no other reason than the challenge of the thing, I'll keep building fretters until I get it right.
As everyone else has said, though, it's your ax so build it like you play it!
Hi, I find that the narrow flat fingerboard used in CBG-style instruments poses little to no challenges. If the "rules" are followed regarding fretting it is far easier than fretting a full-size with a radius and or binding on the fretboard.
If one is building multiple instruments, and moving them on to other players I feel I owe it to them to do the best job I can, and to do that I use the proper tools, materials, and methods for the job at hand.
A few tips: Use a proper fret saw
use a dead blow hammer
Have the neck or fretboard on a hard firm surface
Fingerboard of a hardwood variety
The neck and fingerboard are perfectly flat to start with
Slots are the correct depth
Flush-cutting end nippers save on filing work
Black marker to mark tops of frets
Flat bar [spirit level] with sandpaper attached to level frets
A 3-corner file to re-radius the flattened frets or a proper crowning file
Suitable wet and dry papers to final polish.
I normally get away with doing the leveling etc, as good fretwork prior negates these steps.
Give it a try on scrap [suitable wood.
Taff ... HTML for replies
Thanks for the tips! Much appreciated.
Thanks Taffy for the tips on proper fretting!
Hi Chance and Justin, you are welcome.
Most of my CBGs have been built as slide guitars but fretted. I learned a long time ago that not all of my customers want to play slide. So, I fret my slide guitars so all I have to do is to change the setup for them, better than losing a sale or having to add frets.
I have a mate who has built four CB-style guitars and not fretted any of them, he asks me to do it, but he says he doesn't have the propper tools. I showed him the tools I started with, all adapted for the job.
Hey Ron, use the HTML Editor tab, the visual tab isn't visual. it's just there to confuse folks. Hahaha.