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Acoustic Guitars

Ultimate Recycling: Building The Cigar Box Guitar

1. Basic Shape of the Neck at the Bottom. The neck and the body of the guitar should fit together very snugly. Also, you want the neck to come up flush with the body, so you need to cut a notch exactly as long and deep as the lid. Here’s how to do it: Take the neck of the guitar and line it up with the box lid so that the bottom of the neck (where the strings will be coming up from) is an inch or so from where the box lid ends. Make a mark on the neck there and where it protrudes from the other end of the lid. These marks designate where the lid groove needs to be carved so that you can get the neck to line up perfectly with the body. Cut out the area between the marks, as deep as your lid is thick. I used my wood file to do this. It was slightly tedious, but gave me great depth control. After reaching proper depth, I used sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots so the neck would rest evenly on the body.

2. Preparing the Body for the Neck. The body of the guitar needs to have notches so the neck fits snugly, and also needs sound holes drilled in it so you can hear the twangy goodness you create. This next step preps your body. Take the cigar box and measure halfway across each of the left and right side. From that point measure ¾” towards and away from the lid. Even though the wood for the neck is called a 1X2 it’s really a ¾ X 1½. At each of the endpoints you just drew, draw a line ¾” towards the bottom of the box, then connect those two lines. This will guide you for cutting out the notches for the neck to fit into. Be sure to cut just inside your marks and not quite as deep as you think you should. Try to fit the 1X2 in the notch, and when it doesn’t quite fit use the file and sandpaper to widen and deepen the notches.

The idea is to have the tightest fit possible. Remember, you want the lid to close easily over the neck of your guitar with no bowing of the lid (notch not deep enough) and no space between the neck and the lid (notch too deep). Once you have the notches cut to perfection, you are ready to drill out the sound holes in your guitar body. Any number of techniques can be used including the use of a scroll saw. I personally don’t own such things, so I just drill holes in the lid. Don’t make holes where the neck goes, since the neck will end up covering them. I don’t really have anything intelligent to say about how you should prepare the sound holes as I have not experimented with this much. One caution: be careful not to crack the lid of your cigar box while drilling madly.

3. Working on the Neck. The top of the neck will be comprised of a headstock and a bridge. This next part discusses how to prepare those parts. Remove the neck from the body of the guitar. Make a mark around 4 inches from the top of the neck. This will be where the headstock ends and the fretboard begins. Before you shape the headstock, I suggest you drill the 3 holes for the tuning pegs. This is because you need to be sure you don’t cut the headstock too thin (the tuning pegs won’t screw in snugly). Drill 2 holes on the left side of the headstock and one on the right. The two holes on the right should not line up with one another, one should be slightly offset so the strings don’t interfere with one another when you string it. I offset my top hole about 3/8? further in than the bottom hole. The holes are about 2? apart. I drilled the left hole between the top and bottom right hand holes to make sure the headstock strength was not compromised. You can make a template with paper or business cards so you have the holes lined up properly before drilling.

Next, the shaping of the headstock is in order. I like to use the wood file because I can file away little bits of the headstock at a time without going overboard. I use it and the pocketknife to shape the headstock into the shape I want. After that, you can round out the back of the neck for a more comfortable playing experience. Just don’t mess with the neck portion that goes inside of the body of the guitar since nobody will see that part and since you want to retain a snug fit between the neck and body.

4. The Bridge and String Holes. The last manipulation of the neck piece is the drilling of the sting holes at the bottom of the neck and the creation of the bridge groove. Drill 3 very small equidistant holes at the bottom of the neck, approximately ½” from the bottom, this is where you will thread the strings. On the top of the neck, ½” below where the headstock begins, use the wood file to cut a small round groove across the neck. This is where the bolt you use for the bridge will sit. The groove should be deep enough that 2/3 of the bolt is above the plane of the neck and 1/3 is below.

5. Staining and Prettying Up the Neck. Remove all hardware from the neck. Sand it down nice and pretty and get off all the rough spots, nicks etc. Stain and seal it.

6. Attaching the Neck to the Body. Use the wood glue to affix the neck of the guitar to the lid. After it has dried, you might want to use a few finishing nails as well. Be careful that you don’t crack the lid when doing this. Use the finishing nails to close up the lid. I like to drill pilot holes so that everything goes in straight and easy. (Note: If you want to wire this baby for sound, see the note at the end of these instructions. Don’t do this step yet!!)

7. String Her Up! Using acoustic guitar strings is recommended by Shane Speal, the King of the Cigar Box Guitar, and I’m not one to argue with the king. He uses Martin Darco acoustic guitar strings, gauged .045, .035, .026. Place the bridge bolt in place, as well as the eye bolt at the bottom of the guitar and tune it up. Shane suggests a few different types of tuning including: A (A, E, A’); G (G, D, G’); A7 (A, E, G’); G9 (G, D, A’). A note about the strings: The first guitar I made has some grooves cut into the wood by the strings, directly above where the three small holes I drilled in the bottom are. The stress put on the strings is causing them to cut holes up from those I drilled. I’m trying a new design where I use 3 small washers at the base of the holes. I’m hoping this will keep the strings from cutting too deeply into the wood.

Making the Guitar Electric

Note for those interested in making the guitar electric I have found one of the cheapest ways to do this and still get a reasonable sound. You can wire your cigar box guitar for about $3.00. You will need the following: A Radio Shack Piezo Transducer (part number 273-073 or 273-073a) and a ¼” output jack.

The transducer is in the section with the buzzers, not the microphones. Connect the transducer to the jack via two wires.

Simply glue the buzzer to the inside of the cigar box lid and drill out a hole for the jack to mount to. Voila, electric cigar box. After doing this, continue following directions 6 and 7. The transducer has a somewhat bass bias, in that sounds come out somewhat deep sounding. I found that turning the bass tabs on my amp fixes this problem. Also, running it through various pedals nullifies the problem (chorus pedals etc.) […]

Guitar Reviews

The Tone King Is Stepping On 30 Pedals in 30 Days

‘30 Pedals in 30 days’ is the place where The Tone King showcases some of the biggest names in pedals. Starting November 1st, we’re going to bring you vids and demos of the newest pedals out there. Just like the name says, a pedal (or more) a day for 30 straight days. Of course, in true TTK style, there will definitely be some surprises, including prizes that will be given away to you guys and gals out there. So stay tuned and Subscribe to The Tone King’s YouTube Channel where you’ll be sure to see something you like. […]

Roland Jupiter-80 Keyboard

Roland Jupiter-80 Synthesizer Review

One of the most revered prefixes (Jupiter) in the history of synthesis returns. Welcome the arrival of the Roland JUPITER-80— a live-performance powerhouse that pays homage to its legendary namesake with road-proven hardware and massive sound, yet blasts into the future with advanced SuperNATURAL technology. The JUPITER-80’s expressive, organic approach to synthesis makes a new world of sound design possible with multilayered SuperNATURAL textures under the control of a full-color touchscreen and creative hands-on controllers. Experience the metamorphosis of a legend with the all-new JUPITER-80!

Past, present, and future sound
The JUPITER-80 nods to its past with lethal, multi-layered SuperNATURAL synthesizer tones so fat you’ll need a knife to cut through it, but that’s only the beginning of what this powerhouse synth will do. Gigging musicians will love the stockpile of essential sounds onboard, including Roland’s famous SuperNATURAL Piano, strings, brass, and much more. The JUPITER-80 puts a fast-access user interface under your fingers—a dream for live performance. Its heavyweight design, complete with metal side panels, recalls the legendary JUPITER but with a modern twist.

Powerful live sets featuring four-tone structure and registrations
JUPITER-80’s sound engine handles four x tones with dedicated DSP per tone as a basic unit “Live Set” for manual performance. Layering of Upper and Lower Live Sets, plus a specialized “SOLO” part, means the incredibly massive nine-tone-stack sound. Customized complex settings can be saved as Registrations, and easily recalled during live performance.

Tone blender
You will love the deep possibilities of the stackable SuperNATURAL architecture and unique features such as Tone Blender, which tweaks values of multiple parameters simultaneously and lets you “Capture” any new combination and save it as a Live Set. Create complex, emotional textures that respond, react, and evolve like nothing you’ve heard before. Tone Blender can also dramatically enhance your live-performance capabilities by letting you assign its multiple parameters to controllers such as the D Beam. […]

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GuitarGrip Guitar Hanger Review

The Grip Studios Grip Reaper Skeleton Custom Guitar Hanger is built from the finest materials and is for electric guitars only. It’s strong and durable and will support many times the weight of any guitar or bass.

This hanger is machined and balanced so your instrument fits securely. The grip is equipped with a rubber cushion so the neck and headstock of your guitar or bass is well protected, and it won’t harm nitrocellulose finishes.

The Grip Reaper Skeleton Custom Guitar Hanger is easy to install. It securely holds your guitar or
bass with its sturdy mounting screw. Installed in a wall stud you can have the confidence that your Axe is in good hands! Comes with easy to follow installation instructions. Your axe will be displayed in minutes.

This concept started as a unique way of displaying their own guitars. Because of growing interest they expanded to form Grip Studios, a full production model-making studio dedicated to one-of-a kind, original guitar hangers. Handcrafted to securely hang your electric guitar.

Whether you’re a guitarist or a vintage guitar collector or know someone who is, this is a great way to display your Axe, or give the perfect gift. […]

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Vintage Gear: Moog Taurus Synthesizer Pedal

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mxr carbon copy analog delay guitar pedal review

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The MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal features a completely analog audio path for the ultimate in rich, warm delay–made possible only by old-school bucket brigade technology. This design boasts an amazing 600ms of delay time with optional modulation via a top-mounted switch and a simple, three-knob layout that controls Delay time, Mix (dry/wet blend), and Regen (delay repeats)–all in a pedal no bigger than a Phase 90. In addition, the M169 pedal has two internal trim pots that offer user-adjustable width and rate control of the modulation for even more tonal options. The Carbon Copy effect pedal will take you from crisp “bathroom” slap echoes to epic, Gilmour-esque delays with a twist of a knob. True hard-wire bypass, single 9-volt operation, and stage-ready blue LEDs round out the package. […]