Introduction: Zigarrocaster - My First Cigar Box Guitar

About a year ago, I started building a cigar box guitar for a friend of mine as a commissioned piece. It was my first CBG, but not the first instrument I built. It's called Zigarrocaster №1 (composite of the German word for cigar, Zigarre, and the obvious "caster" of Strato- and Tele-fame)

The most expensive parts were the neck (mahogany) and fingerboard wood (rosewood) at around €30 each. The box I got for €1 at a local tobacco shop.

This is what it looks like, enjoy!

I'd also like to take the opportunity to plug my tumblr

Comments

author
ncooper7 made it! (author)2012-05-03

this is one of the nicest cigar box guitars i've seen! i'd like to hear how it sounds too!

author
RavingMadStudios made it! (author)2011-09-06

This is really nice looking. I've just finished my second one and I have two more in process. One thing I was wondering is what you used for your tailpiece. My first two are 3-stringers, using a decorative brass hinge from Lowe's for the tailpiece, but I can't find anything pre-made that would work for a 4-string tailpiece. Did you fab yours from scratch?

author
thomas_c made it! (author)thomas_c2011-09-06

Hiya!
Yep, it is indeed made from scratch. I got a 1 mm thick sheet of steel at my local hardware store, traced a design on it and cut it out with a fretsaw with an appropriate blade. Presto!

author
CementTruck made it! (author)2011-08-31

This looks awesome. How does it sound?

I just built my first CBG and am doing the final step (fret wire). I pulled up all kinds on online fret calculators and started laying out pencil marks and even used rubber band and toothpicks to test the sound of the guitar with the frets. I am using GDG open tuning, and it sounds phenomenal when strummed open but once I start trying to play witht he frets it sounds awful. I used stewmac's calculator for 25.5" / 22fret.

Any words of advice? What did you use to calculate fret distance?

Cheers!

author
thomas_c made it! (author)thomas_c2011-09-01

It sounds pretty boxy and I like it, kind. I've wired a pickup that's not yet permanentely installed and it sounds just awesome with it.

As for the scale... well, I sort of decided where I wanted the bridge and where I wanted the neck to meet the body, so I had two points. I asked a friend who's a bit more math-savvy than me to whip up an equation for me to calculate the length of the scale from the difference between any given fret and the bridge:


s = b * [ 2 ^ (1/12) ] ^ f

with s being the scale, b being the distance between the bridge and the target fret and f being the number of that target fret. ( 2 ^ 1/12 ) is the twelveth root of two.

Having calculated my scale, I simply ordered a slotted fret board. It's just that easy ;)

I see three problems you might be having:

(1) - Your toothpick frets might not transfer the vibrations of the strings well, i.e. they are not solid/dense enough to produce a good sound
or
(2) - your saddle and bridge are set too high, so that the additional tension on the strings required to pull them down to the fretboard might just take them our of tune.
(3) - your neck might be curved under string tension, resulting in pretty much the same problem as in (2) when you're pressing the strings down onto the finger board.

Try to play with a slide and see if you get the right notes above the fret markers. If it stays in tune then, you probably have to adjust the set-up of your bridge and nut/saddle. There are enough tutorials out there and even a few 'ibles here.

Cheers,
Thomas

scale calculation formula.png
author
CementTruck made it! (author)CementTruck2011-09-01

You've pretty much summed up what I thought (1 and 2). The action is pretty high. I will have to adjust the nut and bridge. The neck seems to be holding up well enough, but I don't know how long that will last.

I'll post a picture soon. I didn't document the build because there are already so many "Yet Another CBG" 'ibles, and they're pretty much clones of other builds.

Thanks for responding.

Cheers.

author
mikeasaurus made it! (author)2011-08-30

You should enter this into the musical instruments challenge!

author
thomas_c made it! (author)thomas_c2011-08-31

I sure would. Alas, as a citizen and resident of the Federal Republic of Germany, I'm not eligible. lé sigh.

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