Let's take my 4-string CBG from a Camacho box as an example: acoustically it doesn't sound at all, but with two Power Rails from GuitarFetish even with a simple amp with volume and gain only it sounds great. With the idea to learn from each other, let us know, how your CBG sounds without an amp and with which pics it sounds great. What do you think about this idea?

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Love the idea! but.....

Ooo let's open up a can o worms again. it's been proven both by the laws of physics, by sound engineers, by musicians and by those who make pickups. A good quality modern made pickup will sound the same in wood or cardboard. "But wut about the harmonics?" Well if you sustain a note for four beats or more they might come into play. As luck would have it. Most music doesn't use that dying away sound.


Totally agree with Wayfinder. I've never played on a CGB that sounded bad. Bummed your's didn't turn out with a sound you like. You can always try slapping some wood on the back of it. Might get a richer sound. Just personal taste. Some of them may sound a bit to much like a banjo for my tastes, but still not bad.  That's acoustically. I've heard some really bad sounding pups. Manufactured and hand made. Thin, bodiless and harsh. 

For me that simply nasal honk of a piezo is a sound all it's own. There's nothing like it for simple blues.  But I also like to over process to get a bigger sound. For most of my playing  I like Seymour Duncans. PAF 59's and Pearly Gates. The mini 59 is a good choice for a slightly thinner sounding PAF. I have a set of Fender noiseless. Haven't made anything to put them in yet. 

To answer this simply. Because people believe it to be the truth. Just like when Jimi Hendrix said coiled guitar cables have a better sound than straight ones. Coiled guitar cables because the only thing you could find. People believed it. No physics to prove it.

There are plenty of vids and web sites done by sound engineers, physicists and musicians alike proving this. Thousands of people have already done this. They buy those cheaper plywood Fenders. Replace all the electronics with good stuff. And sound exactly like those 1K plus American custom shop jobs.  That's why my squared and partly hollow plywood AutoRATic sounds exactly like a Gibson Les Paul. I don't want to rewatch hours of physics vids so I'm going on memory only. The number of harmonics may be greater. The first four harmonics on a note played is based on the reaction of the metal string, fret and bridge. There simply isn't enough time for the base materials to effect the wave form. The electrical current is a reaction between the energy stored in the metal string and a sealed magnet.The sound you get from playing an electric guitar acoustically isn't the same waveform that is picked up the fluctuating magnetic field. What your hearing is the energy transferred from the metal substrates into the wood (substructure). A mix of both the metal and substructure creates the audio waves you physically hear without amplification. 

Modern potting techniques have completely isolated the magnetic field from the base materials. In the past the wood mattered. Today with good quality pickups it doesn't. 

Let's go back to field one: if all of your cbgs sound great, it's not worth mentioning, there is absolutely no specific information with this statement, snow is white, water is wet, cbgs sound great... It could be interesting to know how you get a great sound, whether you are speaking about acoustic or amplified sound, in the latter case how would you describe the properies of the pick on your specific cbg. I know it's difficult to describe a sound, but let's try.

I'll chime in Moritz..

I've built some that sound good, some that sound bad and a couple that sound great.  My definition of sounds great is that I can hear it well over the din of traffic when I'm sitting on my porch.  Of the good and great ones, the thing they have in common is some kind of bracing of the top, ranging from a simple block between the neck and the bridge to more traditional acoustic guitar style bracing.  They also have reinforced sides.  I feel like the added mass can help with sustain and it also prevents the box from flexing if I'm really digging in.  That's my number one pet peeve.  It also gives me a place to get a super strong connection between the neck and the box, which I think is very important.

As far as pickups go, I agree a good magnetic pickup is pretty much a cure all for any kind of instrument.  A mag will hide some if not all of the flaws.  Piezos not so much.  Garbage in, garbage out with piezos and even with great sounding builds using rods, preamps and EQ, I've never been happy with how they handle overdrive/distortion/fuzz.  That being said, I use piezos almost exclusively and like them for a nice clean amplified acoustic sound.  Rods are better than disks if you ask me, but I use them both and with a little EQ and reverb, they suit my needs and style.

Thanks turtlehead! I'm primarily interested in acoustic boxes as I'm frequently in places far from civilization, so for me the difference between acoustic and amplified builds is crucial but rarely done on these forums. Till now I was not sure about bracing but you convinced me to give it a try.

No Wayfinder you didn't get the idea: I'm somewhat tired to hear a cbg sounds great or terrific without any clarification what you are speaking about: acoustic or amplified? If amplified which kind of pick? Sure there exists words to describe a sound more accurately than great or terrific, but don't ask a foreigner for proposals, I know only a few as sustain, twang, a pick may have less ore more natural distortion, and the like.

That I was not sure about bracing but now convinced to give it a try has another reason: I'm in regular contact with several people who build traditional instruments where bracing has a somewhat different function as the soundboards are a lot finer than on a cbg.

Putting a sound post right near under the bridge to the bottom of the guitar will not work as intended as every luthier can confirm you: the difference between a violin and a guitar is that moving an arch over a string brings a lot more energy to the body of the instrument than just fingerpickung or even strumming, energy you can distribute through the sound post between soundboard and bottom of the resonating body. If a cbg with a sound post sounds good, so there must be other reasons.

Agree Moritz,a sound post is unlikely to help a c b g much,in fact it might work against you regarding sustain,with a violin sustain is maintained by the bow continuing over the strings,a guitar needs to sustain struck notes/tones

I think when Moritz writes "pick," he actually means "pickup." Or so I take from context. I think he is also asking for documentation of how "sounds great" is arrived at, for various builders. Wayfinder and others have quite rightly said that that is a highly subjective call, dependent on the interaction of a host of build factors, as well as the tastes of the builder / player / listener.

One way to demo this is to post audio, or even better, video of a particular build that Wayfinder, for example, claims "sounds great."

Me personally, I don't generally like banjoey CBGs, yet one of my favorite builds by another builder is exactly that. There are certain songs where that tone is just what's needed. Another build sounds relatively just OK acoustically, due to a 1/4" thick top, but combined with a Lace Sensor pickup and the proper amp, rages quite well for rock, yet oddly enough, also has a smooth jazzy tone (combo of the pup, the amp, and the style coming out of my fingers).

My homemade boxes sound more bassy and loud, because I give them more internal volume than a standard 9" X 7" X 1-1/2" cigar box ( 13" X 10-1/2" X 3-1/2" ), and because I build the top, back and sides kinda like a violin: relatively thin, 3/16" Lauan plywood. This is then stiffened in the corners and along the sides with 1/2" square pine, glued and screwed. My boxes are LOUD acoustically. Also, I use a circular pattern of very small, 1/4" diameter sound holes drilled through a 1/8" circular plate glued to the edge of the box facing the player. This tends to filter the highs a bit more.

And I make my bridge / saddles a bit higher than most people, with a 3 degree neck back angle, and the fretboard 1/4" higher than the top of the box. My necks are made of...a dual laminate of two pieces of 3/4" plywood.

Thanks Ron, you prove that there are words with them you can specify what «great» exactly means: bassy and loud, trebly and fine (??), banjoey with a lot of twang (??), with less or more sustain.

I tried to find a word for the sound of the ElectraGlide Wayfinder presented on this forum, a word contrary to  (german) «clear, ringing like a bell», we call it «spongy» but I don't believe that an english speaking person gets the idea...

Baseline for me is to distinguish between acoustic and amplified when speaking about «sounding great».

I know why they sound great. That's simple.
It's because they don't sound like every musical instrument you had heard for the last 60 years of random music.

Same is true for a puppy made from a shovel or a gravestone...

P.S. Our discussion makes me remember a bad joke finns told about norwegians (and norwegians about finns). A norwegian comes to a camp of lumberjacks asking for work. «Eighty trees a day, let's see», said the boss and gave him a chainsaw. In the evening he went to check what the norwegian did all the day: he had cut only about twenty five trees, so he checked the chainsaw an put it roaring. Said the norwegian: «Wah, sounds great, how did you get this sound?»


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