Cigar Box: How to Build a Smokin' Cigar Box Guitar for Around $25, Part 5
We are finally going to finish our cigar box guitar.
The photo gallery below shows the final steps in making a fretboard, gluing it up and making a nut, bridge and saddle.
Now that you've finished your axe, do you want to show it off? Feel free to post photos on our wall at our Facebook page.
There are also some other cool sites for us CBGers. The one I use the most is cigarboxnation.com. It's free to join, and it's a great place for more information on building CBG and other musical instruments. You'll also find info on events, lessons and networking groups you can join.
So we have built a CBG. You probably want to learn how to play it, huh?
Here's Shane Speal. You might recognize him from our first article. Not only is Shane a CBG musician, but he's an excellent builder and teacher.
Below is a clip of Shane showing you the secret of the stubby slide. Although he is using a small glass slide, his main stubby slide is actually a 3/4-inch socket from a hardware store. They're cheap and have lots of mass (providing extra sustain), and the square fitting for the ratchet is perfect to jam your ring finger into.
Here is Mike Snowden. We featured Mike in part 2 of our series. He is a master craftsman and one-man-band -- and yes, he has some great lessons to offer, from rock to blues. He even has a lesson on tuning your CBG on YouTube and on his website, snowdenguitars.com.
Here's Mike with a blues slide CBG lesson:
Secret Devil Tuning is a one-man-band who makes self-inflected punk-blues loud, dangerous, primal and pure, from Best (West) Virginia with love. It is a learning process. The main goal is to make as much racket with one person as others with a full band. All instruments are cobbled together, as is the music that comes out of them.
Check him out taking our secret guitar for a test-drive and playing a Karma To Burn cover, "10":
For more info on Secret Devil Tuning, check out his Facebook page.
I'd like to thank Shane Speal, Hollowbelly, Mike Snowden, Ben Prestage, Chris Fillmore, Elmar Zeilhofer, Reed Turchi, Secret Devil Tuning, Hawthorne Heights, the folks at CB Gitty and the folks at Guitar World for being a part of this. I would also like to thank my wife for putting up with my CBG addiction.
Our next project: A Beer Can Mic. Details soon ...
Keep on playing!
Brian Saner owns Saner Cigar Box Guitars, which makes custom handmade guitars and amps using local dry-aged wood in every guitar. These guitars are handmade and might have imperfections, but that's what makes them unique. Once you hear the howl of a CBG, you might not want to play a Fender or Gibson again. Get one at sanercigarboxguitars.com, devildownrecords.com/guitars and Main Street Gallery. Check out his Facebook page.
A photo of our finished cigar box guitar.
A photo of our secret guitar with all the bells and whistles.
Now it's time to “rock the box” (also shown, cigar box amp, footlocker bass drum and license plate stomp “snare drum”). Keep on playing ...
Remove the clamps and use a thinner screw for your nut (#6 or #8) and use a slightly larger one for your bridge (#8, #10 or #12; you can use an I-bolt in place of a bridge and saddle if you like). Put some strings on it (46, 32 and 25 gauge ). Tune it to an open chord.
Clamp it all together, wipe off the excess and let it dry over night.
It's time to glue it up. Set the fretboard on top of neck and measure where your bridge will go as well as where your neck will start. Make a small mark in each place.
Spread glue (Titebond III) evenly on the fretboard, in the holes where your neck will go, and along the hinge side and opening side of the lid.
Sand the ends so there aren't any sharp edges. Use work gloves to keep from getting cut while you are sanding.
Once the sealer is dry, it's time to set the frets. I put a small bead of super glue in the channel, start the frets with my fingers and use bar clamps to push them in to place. After they all are in place, I use my fret jig and hammer and give them a slight tap to make sure they are all the way in.
Now let's make a fret jig with some of the scraps. With the rest of your scrap wood, use your miter box and saw and cut a grove about 1/8 inch deep. Notice the mark on mine. That’s where I line up the end of my frets so they will be even on the fretboard. Let's cut some frets. Count how many slots you have to see how many frets you will need. Line them up with the mark and use wire cutters to cut through the fret wire.
While your fretboard is drying, let's make a saddle. I cut a 1- to 1 1/2-inch piece and notch out the center of it to hold the all-thread or screw in place. Stain and seal it to match your fretboard.
Now it's time to stain (if you want to) and seal your fretboard. I know this is backwards from the traditional way, but it saves time cleaning up sealer off the frets. If you use a stain, you won't damage it while filing frets.
Set your fret board on your neck and measure where you are going to cut the end of the fretboard. I usually have two frets to over lap the box. Save you remaining piece as we will be using it to make a fret jig and bridge saddle.
Let's make some fret markers. You can use a Sharpie and a small washer as a guide, or drill holes and fill them with cut wood dowls. Or you could do it the cool kid way and use a piece of all-thread heated with a torch and use the all-thread like a branding iron.
Use your coping saw to cut the depth of the fret. Make sure it is straight. Cut to the depth of the blade of your coping saw. It should be around 1/8 inch.
Use the miter box and saw to make a slight cut on each of the marks; one or two swipes of the saw, and don't do too many or your frets won't set right. We are just making a slight mark to guide our coping saw. Make sure to make a notch where the nut will go too.
Make a fret template. Place the wood next to a guitar that you like playing and mark where the nut and the frets are. Make sure to measure the distance from the nut to the bridge to determine your scale length (Our guitar is set for a 25.5” scale). If you don’t have a guitar, I'll have the measurements on my site, sanercigarboxguitars.com.
Our secret guitar again ...
Our next project: a beer can mic.