Could i use a metal lockbox for a cigar box guitar?

I have this old metal (i think its aluminum but i'm not sure) lock box, and i wondered if anyone knew how well it would work for a cigar box guitar. obviously its not actually a cigar box guitar, because the box is metal.. and not for cigars.. but whatever. you know what i mean. 

any input would be great!

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pie R []ed5 years ago
the main thing to take into consideration is the thickness of the top of the box. The sound of an acoustic instrument comes from the top resonating. think of it as a speaker cone. the cone moves up and down. this movement in turn moves the air creating sound waves. depending on the thickness of the metal it may work, but if it is too thick, it wont resonate well. based on your calling it a "lock-box" i'm assuming the metal is thick enough to deter thieves, so is probably too thick to resonate properly.

this isn't an issue if you want to make it an electric guitar, but you wont get much sound when playing acoustic. if you are planning on using a piezoelectric element as a pickup place it as close to the bridge as you can, as the top wont give you much sound.

there are metal bodied guitars, but they mostly utilize resonator cones. these cones are typically spun aluminum or brass, and are as thin as possible while maintaining strength. you can pickup a cone for around $30, but they require a "well" to be mounted in. this well is a hole in the top of the instrument with a lip set up so the resonator will sit flush with the top. they topically then have a cover plate installed to protect the cones, as they are very thin and prone to being punctured. the bridge sits on top of the cone, under the cover plate, and varies depending on the resonator type. resonators are a whole new thing to learn to work with, but you can get a very cool sound great for slide. for more info on resonatorscheck out National Resophoic Guitars, DoBro Guitars, and wikipedia.

To answer you question directly: Without looking at the box i cant say for sure, but It probably wont be loud enough to be practical acoustic. It will play fine as an electric; either under saddle piezo, or magnetic. it will work best with a resonator. For now i'd say to give it a shot with a pickup, and tweak it later if needed.
Thanks! its a relitively thin box actually, only about an eigth of an inch or so.

how hard do tyou think it would be to make my own resonator cone? i ve played a few of those, and they dont seem overly complicated.
The box will probably work on it's own, but wont be very loud/ very good sounding. just about anything will work as a resonator to a varying degree, it just depends on the thickness/ flexibility. i have seen cookie tins work with varying success, as well as thin metal bowls, and the lie. the key is that it must be as thin as possible while not being foil. very thin sheet metal is ideal.

an actual reso cone is spun in a similar fashion to the bell of a brass instrument. see this video for more info:

it's really a specific process, but it is possible to sue other things as well. just keep in mind the thickness. here's a good thread on the topic: http://www.cigarboxnation.com/forum/topics/diy-resonator-cones

for now i'd try to just use the lock box, and see how it sounds. maybe test with the neck clamped on until you know what your plan is. when designing it, just keep in mind that if you do put in a cone, it will need enough space to resonate freely, so at least a 1/4 on each side for safety.
FinchbyFinch (author)  tjg1445 years ago
woops, that comment was supposed to come from me. lol, i didnt see my brother was still logged in
You can use any box as a guitar. The metal box may not project as well as a cigar or wood box. But it will have a nice unique sound. So give it a try and see what you come up with.