Instructable #2......Here goes !!

So I recently at the beginning of the year 2013 got into learning and building CBG's or Cigar Box Guitars. I am relatively new to it, but when I try making something and only get minor knowledge from reading articles and such, I sometimes feel the need to search out to learn more on the particular area I am working on to make sure I am doing it correctly. In this case, Fretting the CBG.

Most builders I have seen use a saw and a mitre box. The saw most commonly spoken about is the Harbor Freight Japanese Flush cut saw. This is a great tool and sharp. But I am no good at using it for frets. I make more of a mess of the fretboard using this. And I did several practice runs before doing the real cutting. Then it just doesn't look well for what I did. Even with a guide some turned out crooked. I wanted a better way for me to accomplish fretting that will work for me...So this may or may not work for you, but I wanted to share it for those who want to keep learning new ways or options in the building process....This is my process. Hope it helps.

 As always, use safety when running any tool or sharp hand tools. Wear safety glasses when needed and hearing protection too.

Step 1: Figure your scale....Making your stencil

Now, I am not a pro at knowing the measurements from the Nut of the guitar, to between each of the frets, and to the bridge. The main thing to remember is no matter what scale you decide to use, the distance from the nut to the 12th Fret, and 12th fret to Bridge needs to be equal distance to match the overall scale.

A common scale used and is seen on most Fender, is 25.50" or 25½". There is also the 24.75 or 24¾" scale use on Gibson and 25" for PRS guitars. Here is a link to Stewart MacDonald guitar supplies or www.stewmac.com to give you a run down on scale lengths.


You will then need a fret calculator. I am glad there is this info on the web these days and still amazes me how these were determined in general. StewMac also have a Fret Calculator, and link is here...  


So the only thing about there's has a lot of great info and I'll admit some quite a bit above me. But its great to refer too.

I have stumbled upon another fret calculator and I tend to like this one a little better because frankly, its a little more simpler, but still gives you the info you need. and a printable graphic to transfer/copy your frets to the fretbaord.


I chose to go with the 24.75" or 24¾" scale as used on Gibson for a little more warmer tone. I chose to have 18 frets. You can choose to have more and I think 22 would be a little much. But being a CBG, remember there are no rules and my scale may not be for you. And it depends on how you will want to be playing the guitars you make.

I put in the info I wanted for my scale and fretboard. You will see the graphic change as you do this.

Selected Inches

Entered 3 strings.

Next you will see the question "string width at the nut" and "string width at the bridge", Since the CBG is using a 1x2 and will technically be 1½" wide. Enter 1.5 for both of these. You will see the graphic change to look like a straight stick and 3 lines running down its length.

Next is Fretboard over hang. I eft this alone because in the end it wouldn't matter much, at least I think.

Then is asks Calculation Method, leave this number at 12. This noting that the 12th fret is you next octave change. This is you middle number. Now if you go with a 25.5" scale and print out the 2 scales, and hold them up together you will see a difference of the fret spaces. All this means is that the program compensated the fret distances. With the 25.5" scale the frets will be spaced slightly further apart than the 24.75" scale.Bottom line what matters is your 12th fret measurement.

For this scale it is from Front of the Nut to 12th Fret. = 12.375. From 12th Fret to break of bridge should also be 12.375. 

When you have entered these simple numbers for your scale, save it as a pdf. and print it out. It will print out as 3 pages. The 3rd page you really do not need so you can actually go to print options and select pages to print 1-2. this will leave off the 3rd page.

So you are thinking great I have 2 pages , how is this gonna help me to line them up. On your first page it shoul have printed only 9 frets then take scissors and cut across just slightly behind the black printed line of this last 9th fret. Keeping the black line intact and should not be any white paper thereafter. Since I had noted 18 frets. The second page first fret is again the 9th fret. Trim the top of the page, but in front of the black line this time. Line up the 2 pages and use clear scotch tape to attach them together. This has led up to you making your template stencil and should look like the pic shown. Unfortunately the pic I wrote 15 frets. But you probably get the idea so far.

Next to transfer these.

<p>I'm curious, what are your dimintions for your neck? Like how thick is your overall neck and then how thick is the bass and the fret board? I'm trying to make one with a Tabak cigar box and a piece of mohgonay for the girlfriend.</p>
I'd like to add a Thank You to Instructables.com for making this a featured article. Thanks to all that views it and those who have saved as a favorite.
Great article! <br>Here's tons of info on fretting: http://handmademusicclubhouse.com/group/tedsmadscientistlab/forum/topics/fretting-tips-tricks-supplies <br>There is a large community of builders and players of cigar box guitars. You can find lots of info, lessons, photos, videos, groups, forums and even live chat at the Handmade Music Clubhouse http://HandmadeMusicClubhouse.com. There&rsquo;s also info on all types of homemade instruments and music.
Hey Ted Thx. We'be spoken many times on CBN. Aka Ray K III. I'll def. Look at your link. ThX for checking my article.

About This Instructable


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Bio: I am a simple guy. I have been involved with Special Effect makeup, probuilding and other related interests for about 20yrs+. I enjoy woodworking projects ... More »
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