So I came across this year’s $100 Tele Challenge, which is sort of a grown-up cigar box build-athon. Lots and lots and lots of great ideas. I saved and reposted some of the more interesting ones.
Here’s a cool and easy idea. Click for bigger. Using a jig this guy routed the appropriate sized hole for some angle iron, and then routed another channel for the flat part. Sprayed the mild steel (you can find this stuff at home depot in 18-30″ lengths for less than $5) with some rattlecan nitrocellulose laquer to isolate it from the wood and prevent rust, and then capped it off with a maple top to make his neck. This is pretty simple and allows you to jump from a 3 or 4 string cigar box guitar, up to a proper six string cigar box guitar.
Here’s a leather(!) pick guard. Click for bigger. This is standard 1/8th inch leather. This guy was able to shape the leather however he liked by sandwiching it between two identical patterns and then “routing” around them. Pretty ingenious.You can of course use leather working tools to create all sorts of patterns or whatever. The leather is definitely going to hurt your tone acoustically, but if you’re using a pickup on your CBG, it might be something worth looking into instead of regular plastic.
Here’s a creative idea for a pick guard. Click for larger. This is a $0.68 floor tile with a great pattern/texture to it. He recommends heating the floor tile before cutting, as it can be brittle at colder temperatures.If you’re experimenting with different color schemes for your guitar or CBG, this is an innovative way to color-coordinate the paint job/hardware. For whatever reason, I’m having word wrap issues with this paragraph, so I had to add this sentence so the next image would align correctly.
Here’s the truss rod from the first picture being glued into the neck. Not difficult! If you’re building a CBG, go 4 or 6 string, and add a truss rod! It will extend the life of your instrument greatly, and you won’t be frustrated using 3 strings. Add the truss rod and extend your ability to use uke chord charts or guitar chord charts/tabs by going with 4 or 6 strings. Make magazine made a huge mistake by only going with 3 strings instead of 4.
Here we have a rather ingenious design. This is a tailpiece for a Cigar Box Guitar, very similar to the tailpiece for an F5 style mandolin, but instead of spending $100 for a good mandolin tailpiece, they’ve used a $5 decorative hinge. It’s pretty obvious that you could find a 4 screw hole, or modify one for a 4 string. Note they drilled a hole in the center of the hinge for a screw, giving you a sort of string height adjustment on the far end of the bridge, increasing pressure on the bridge (== improved volume). Nice touch.
Here’s another shot of the same tailpiece. Click to enlarge. This gets two pics, because I’m just so enamored with the idea.How Fsking brilliant is this? This is going onto all my new build projects. The only thing I would change is switching the center screw to a brass screw to match the tailpiece.
This is probably the best pic on the web of this. Click for bigger. This is a properly done neck-through-body cigar box guitar neck. They’ve carved away the top and bottom of the neck, to avoid any contact occurring with the resonating parts of the guitar (top and bottom).
Here are my favorite builds, in no particular order: