I want to show you and discuss a project that I started one year ago in my kitchen during the boring first pandemic wave in my tiny flat.
Keep in mind that I didn´t had access to the workshop in my house and had not many tools here.
Making an instrument is not something new to me but I´ve never made a string instrument.
I played with the idea in my mind to build a regular bass guitar from a bought kit. But then I found the wonderful world of cigar box guitars. Thanks a lot for all the information I found here.
Yes, it´s not a cigar box. But here we have a group for wine box guitars too - so my sparkling wine-box seems not to be out of topic.
I found the box in dirt filled with tools in an old garage.
After all discussions I have seen it was not clear if it possible to make a cigar box bass guitar that would stay in tune.
Another problem was that the best material I had for the neck was a scrap piece of water-resistant plywood. Would it hold the tension of 4 bass strings?
To find out I glued together 2 layers of 1,5 cm water resistant plywood + 1cm regular plywood for the fretboard. The neck is maybe too thick but didn´t knew if plywood can hold the pressure.
Inside the neck is a truss rod made of a threaded rod in alu U profile, wrapped in plumbers teflon tape to prevent rattling. The nut you can see on the picture is brazed on it.
The tuning is hidden inside of the box on purpose - my daughter likes to play with the tuning pegs on all my guitars. The question was: Would this setup work?
As if it was not enough I decided to challenge myself by not using bought tuning pegs.
The picture shows it with frets installed but for months it was as fretless.
The fretboard is flat and the distance between strings is almost the same at the nut and the bridge.
For months the guitar was with strings installed – there is no bend in the neck and is in tune for days with no problem.
Frets are cut from nickel silver fret wire. Glued in place. I wanted to make them from copper wire or from windshield wipers but for guaranteed success in my first such project I decided for the fret wire – I can only recommend it because of the shape of the wire it is perfectly in level with no effort.
I added 2 fasteners on the side of the box - the one the box had before was not enough to lock it tight.
It is coated in clear polyurethane – used for wood floors. I had it from my furniture-making projects.
As soon as I install the strings again I´ll upload a sound-file. It is quite loud.
There were knots on the end of the strings to fasten them to the ringbolts but it takes too much time and is uncomfortable because the bass strings are so thick. Instead of knots I would like to try now clamp connectors normally used for electric connections(WAGO).
The reason why it is without strings is that I need position markers and a guitar pickup.
What do you think about the position markers? Would you recommend stickers? Maybe numbers?
I bought the cheapest acoustic guitar pickup with one magnet for all strings. I would like to take the coil out of the housing and place it under the strings (I´m using electric bass guitar strings). What do you think about that?