Saturday, 11 June 2011

Tabacalera 4 string Cigar Box Guitar

Recently completed is this rather sweet looking 4 CBG. I'm particularly proud of the neck which is carved from a piece of what I believe to be Afromosia from the stock of 20 yr old hardwood offcuts I sourced from a retired wood turner.
As the wood of the box was quite thin I decided to experiment by bracing the top. I also reinforced the whole box with thin bars of wood glued into the corners and filling the gaps as it wouldn't have taken much to fall apart and in my eyes a CBG has to be able to be chucked in a backpack without the risk of damaging it.
I also thought it might be an idea to re-use a laptop speaker as the pick-up. I had two of them from an ancient broken laptop I dismantled. I tried one out first by clamping the lid on my workmate end to end and sticking the speaker on with a bit of tape. It didn't sound so bad but I dropped and lost the one I tested so used the other one which typically was not working at all so then I used a speaker from one of my sons redundant and broken talking books.
After I had put the whole guitar together I was very disappointed by the sound It was acoustically very quiet and dead and amped up sounded terrible. very low response from the speaker unless you played the strings hard which sounded so harsh it made nails on a blackboard sound like an angels choir which was absolutely unacceptable.  I hadn't planned on putting an access hatch in as it should never need any maintenance but unfortunately I would now have to make one I figured it also needed another sound hole but I didn't want to ruin the aesthetics. So I came up with the Idea of a rear sound hole which could double as the access hatch. I got the dremel out cut a hole out the back. I gave up on the speaker idea and went for the tried and trusted  27mm Piezo disc.
Acoustically it is now still a bit on the quiet side but sounds much more pleasing to the ear much brighter. I also strung it up with the a d g and b string from an acoustic set of bronze wounds which gives it a bit more volume. Then I plugged it in to the amp and was incredibly surprised, quite rounded and smooth and not too plinky plunky.
Below follows the photo's and specs from my website which is where you can purchase it.

The Tabacalera Cigar box guitar is designed solely for slide use. with a high action and wide string spacing giving scope for for inventive slide playing. It's easy to play one two or three strings open and slide groovy riffs out on the others. The very high action also gives the player the ability to easily create a vibrato effect by wobbling your slide on the strings towards and away from the neck rather than quickly sliding back and forth along the string.
Acoustically it has a nice slightly mellow if a little quiet tone. Plug it in and you'll be amazed by the richness of sound.
At 74cm long and with it's reinforced box and sturdy construction this CBG makes an Ideal travel companion.
Body: Vintage Tabacalera box reinforced

Neck: Hand carved from 20yr old off cut of hardwood probably Afromosia. Inlayed dot markers.
Bridge: Floating bridge hand carved from old cow bone found in a hedge and Paduak from 20yr old off cut.
Tail piece hand cut and rough brushed piece of sheet aluminium.
Nut: Roughly hand carved from same piece of cow bone as bridge.
Good quality enclosed machine heads re-used but excellent condition.
Pickup: new 27mm Piezo disc.
4 Acoustic Bronze wound steel strings.
Pepper pot sound hole.

Pickup access hole on rear doubles as an extra sound hole.
Length: 74cm (29.5")
Scale Length: 53cm (20.5") Approx)
Width: 16cm


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