I always wanted a Bajo Sexto so I could sound like Miguel y Miguel, but I'm also a super-broke cheapskate.
I figured I'd make me one, but the tuning pegs would be hard and maybe cost a lot...until I got an idea by looking at shamisens, lutes and violins and all the historic string instruments. They don't need all those gears and parts, just a big, fat, cone-shaped peg stuck real tight in a hole.
Here's how I turned a broken $6 guitar into a Bajo Quinto/ 10-string Guitar
Step 1: Materials
Depends on what work the guitar needs.
Mine had no pegs on either end and was missing those bars that go under the strings at both ends. I had to use a little glue to repair the neck, too.
- Guitar (Neck width= how many strings you can fit)
- 2 sets of strings
- Drill (Peg-sized drillbit and a tiny puny little drillbit)
- Blade (I carved the pegs)
- Little Chunks of wood (Peg-sized)
- Screws (To hold strings on body...tried wood pegs but they kept breaking)
My total cost: about $13 for guitar and strings, (on sale) I had the rest already.
Step 2: Drill Peg-Holes
I drew a line connecting the edges of the holes that were there to keep things lined up (but still messed up on the middle one, which caused problems later)
- Middle hole stuck out too far from line, made tuning kinda hard with the other strings pushing on the peg. Get it straight.
Step 3: Make a Way to Attach Strings to Body
I just stuck screws in the holes and looped 2 strings around each. Leave the screw sticking out to put strings on, and as you tighten them in those string-knobs go to each side and you can have the strings doubled like a mandolin/12-string/bajo sexto
- I tried making wooden peg things at first (which worked pretty good actually) but mine were weak and broke when I tuned up higher. Maybe actual hardwood or something could work, but screws are fast n' easy
Step 4: Make Da Pegs
I took some chunks of wood and carved up one end to fit into the hole really tight and left the other end square to have good grip for tuning. Then just drill a puny hole IN THE SKINNY AREA to hold the string.
Alternate the pegs with high and low holes to stick em through the top and bottom of the head OR try alternating long and short pegs from the bottom only.
Problems I found:
- First, I didn't even think of drilling the hole and tried tying up the string on the peg. It just slipped and got kinks in the string so I broke a couple.
- Drilling through the fat part is hard to tune since the string cant wrap around good, I guess.
- I tried putting the pegs on one side and couldn't turn one without bumpin into the others. Also, I noticed the ones coming from the bottom (with holes on smaller end) tune way better, so maybe alternsting longs and shorts from the bottom could work, dunno.
Step 5: It Actually Worked!
Just tune it up now.
It only took me a few hours (most of it was back-tracking when I messed up) so this is really easy n' quick if you do it right.
Like I mentioned earlier, guitar neck = how many strings. I probably can't get 12, so made it 10
Step 6: Inspiration
I had a real long chain of stuff getting to this point.
I think the main inspiration was this cigar box video by Glenn Watt on Youtube:
From there, I tried making little guitar instruments, but could never get the pegx right. I tried those screws with the loop at the end first, but it wouldn't get tight.
I gave up for a while, then one day I was looking up all the string instruments and noticed that the old traditional ones just stick big pegs in without gears, so I figured I could just do that. I experimented with a stick, drilled a hole on each end and stuck pencils as pegs and it actually tuned.
I tried it on my little guitar and it worked, but I couldn't make it 12 string since the holes weren't spaced right and I didn't wanna work on it anymore. I saw this cheapo guitar corpse at a swap meet for 6 bucks and it was set up perfect with the pegless holes lined up.