ive noticed a few folks mention that they spend 40+ hours per CBG. I am a new builder and my first one took about 15 hours and the second about 8 hours. the most time on both was spent on the neck and frets. i feel both of my guitars are on a pretty even level with the guitars ive seen from the folks claiming 40 hours build time so i was just wondering what you guys usually spend on a guitar time wise?


i have a pretty solid woodworking background and have pretty much all the tools one could need to build these (minus some specialized luthier tools) so i have to wonder if that makes a big difference but 40 hours for a typical CBG sounds like a lot of time. am i wrong here?

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I have spent 20-30 hours on some of my nicer builds. I think if you have both a lot of tools and a place to work and skills to match, it will allow you to build faster and better.( I do not) I wouldn't count drying time etc for finishes and glue. I can also whip out a canjo or a simple "stick and a box" build in just a few minutes if I really wanted to. I tend to spend quite a bit of time planning things out or experimenting with different ideas. There is a really wide range of styles and features one may choose to include on a particular build , with a corresponding amount of time for each step. I build mostly for my own enjoyment so am not in a big rush to get any done but I am impatient and eager. I have started trying to work on several at once to keep myself from rushing on one!

Prime example, I had an idea for the current build and figured on spending a couple of hours today working on the tuning head and fitting the neck into the box. about three and a half hours later the tuning head has been modified back into a functional piece from my minor pooch screw and the neck is fitted into the box. Measure three times, cut twice (wrong both times) and it will be fine, just not how I had it in my original idea. My fault for thinking artsy instead of functional. Does it bother me? Not really, just another learning experience. Even with the rework I'll probably only have about 20 hours shop time in this one, but add in the "engineering time" and I will have a couple of months in it. The box was free, the neck is leftovers from other builds and materials wise I may have $10.00 in it. I'll probably keep it for a noodling toy or if it plays really nice I may give it to a friend just to see a smile and hear it played by someone who will enjoy it. Actually, I guess I'm not really the person to ask how long does it take, because to me the journey is more important than the destination.

Mine take a while, some more some less. I just build 'em till there done.

I'm on the long side for building but I go to the nines.  I will add binding to the fret board, mother of pearl inlaid dots.  Then I hand wind pickups and if I make a nickel silver cover for it, that takes a lot of work to get it to shine like chrome.  I also fabricate a lot of my metal work like tail pieces.  I've even made adjustable bridges like on arch tops.  Even with all the power tools, one can spend a lot of time if so inclined.  It is all in the details.  Most of my builds are one of.  I end up making specific jigs for certain aspects of the builds.  I'd love to standardize but I experiment too much for that.  Never mind the problem solving and engineering time.  I often lay things out in CAD so my dimensions are figured out in advance.  That is why it is a hobby for me.  It would only frustrate me if I sold them because of how little I would get for the hours put in.

Reply by David "Dr. Dave" Davies on Saturday
Can you post any pics of your racquet models? I would like to see them.

Sorry for the delay David-here's a link to one of them:


Very nice.  Thanks.

Mine take an afternoon or a morning.  That's how I gauge hobby time.  Half-day, whole day, several days.  I just shipped one off to a friend and don't have anything to play.  So Wednesday, on my day off, I'll build me a new 3-stringer to noddle around on. I don't sell 'em.  I'd never get as much money as they are worth to me.  I'd rather give one to a working musician that will take it and play it in public.  More CBG converts that way.

I'll post pictures.  I may even do it as a timed event.  How fast do you think one could be built properly?  From pristine box and lumber to plugged in and playing, assuming all the materials are piled up and ready to go.? Fretted?

Don, Uncle crow builds his in less than an hour, I forget if they are fretted. Its a top neck build nothing fancy but its played thru an amp so it does not need to be. Try for under 30 minutes. Hey maybe this should be the next challenge, fastest playable build.

Build as fast or as slow as you want. It's not about speed, it's about the process.

I used to be heavily into aviation and we had a 1946 Aeronca Champ with 90 a horsepower engine for 21 years, cruise speed between 85 to 90 mph and seldom if ever flew point to point as it was much more fun to explore and hunt wildflowers and waterfalls or exercise cattle en-route. Had a friend who build a very fast home-built who said the problem he had was he always arrived before he wanted to stop flying.

It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.

I spent 4 years in the Marines in aviation and another 4 in general aviation after that.  I've helped several owners through their restorations Waco, Luscombe, Stearman, an SE-5 replica, and several RV-4 kit builds. The journey was almost never ending for most :-)   I also learned to fly in a Cessna 150. My first long solo cross-country was to Addison in Dallas, from Wiley Post in OKC.  Summer, 35 mph wind from the south, cars were passing me on I-35 below. Getting home was sure fast, though. The journey can be over-rated sometimes.

Cigar box guitars for me are about playing them as much as building them. That's why I mentioned "built properly"

Here's our when she left. Sad day watching her fly away after all of our fun times together. We never really own them, just take care of them for a while. Can't lose the memories anyway.

I miss playing with general aviation. I had a shop for 3 years and got to work on some cool stuff. I don't miss the customers. I did mostly specialty work and restorations. They drove me nuts.

I agree that we never really own them.  .....I've never seen an owner yet that wasn't still paying on one, even if it was free and clear.

Building a CBG is a lot easier than shaving stringers out of spruce.


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