I am living in Thailand so I cant get genuine cigar box's here and to import would be a 'nightmare' to get through customs. I plan to build my own boxes (I have access to mahogany, teak or macca wood)
I understand that the unique sound of the cigar box guitar is reliant on the type of wood used, dimensions of the box and the thickness of the top, sides and bottom.
So, as to get the best resonance, what is the recommended dimensions, thickness and type of wood?
I would use Mahogany, it will work the best of the three for boxes. As far as thickness, I would try to keep it 3/16 or less if you can. Heavier thicknesses will work just not as well. dimensions are up to you and the size of material available.
Hi Gary, thanks for the message and the advice - 3/16th = 5mm about
Most cigar boxes are plywood and pressed paper. Only the really expensive cigars come in pine boxes. The construction for most are a simple as possible. The two short sides are a lid hight taller than the two long sides. The lid itself fits over the two long sides and between the two short when closed. The hinge is nothing more the same thick paper the outer decorations are made from. The bottom is the size of the box with all the sides fitting on top of it. Usually the long sides fitting inside the sort. The box is held together by staples and the paper that wraps it. So if you use glue your box will be stronger than the real thing.
For sizes. They come in all kinds of sizes. The biggest one I have is 260 x280 by 45 tall. I have a cigar box guitar with a body of 203 x 229 x 76. So there are a lot of size combinations you could have. Usually no more than 254 and no less than 152. So make a size that you like. It's all good.
Hi Blue Rat, Thank you for the message and the advice. This is the dimensions of the box but for the best sound how thick should the lid, side and bottom be (5mm - 10mm?)
After looking at all the boxes I have I'd have to say yes to 5mm. The only antique box I have is 5mm wood. But if all you have is 10mm it'll still sound great. Optimum would be 5mm. Like an acoustic guitar the thinner the better.
Somewhere on this site there's a comparison video. Folks at CB Gitty compared cigar boxes made of pressed paper and wood. They both sounded great. The traditional wood for a cigar box is cedar. That'd be harder to come by. Any semi to hard wood you can get will, like Gary said, make a great sounding box. And still have that cigar box sound. It's the shape, size and construction of the box that gives it that sound. No where near the quality of an acoustic guitar.
Hi Blue Rat, thank you again for the great advice. This is exactly what I was looking for. Practical notes followed up with experience.
As advised I did watch the CB Gitty 'box video' comparing the boxes. I will be making my own boxes so I will now be careful in maintaining the 'box sound'
Cheers mate and thank you
Here’s that video about ply vs. mdf? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttK09vKLOZI&list=PL6Td3cldBTR4q...
Hi Brian, thank you for this
Hi Rich, if I may add or expand, with respect, on Blue Rats comment regarding thinner is better in an acoustic guitar. Thinner timber is certainly more responsive, depending on the species, than thicker, but thickness is not really a reliable guide to tonal qualities. I think you will find that builders of handmade guitars concern themselves more with stiffness and flexibility of the tonewood they use.
As a builder thins the top from a certain starting thickness they are constantly flexing the timber looking for the point of good flexibility whilst maintaining a certain stiffness. When I'm thinning top I put them through the thickness sander, I stop when I feel the time is right, the actual thickness could be different for different tops with different grain structures. Blue Rats measurements and suggestions are a good place to start.
The info I give is just to give you a better back ground but not so important on the simple CBG.
One could say that what I'm sharing is useless information, that's not needed, considering the type of instruments we are concerned with here, but, a little story...........
My son built four CBG's, but got so involved in learning more about the type of information I share here, that within a year he was equipped with enough tools, machines and knowledge to build full size acoustic guitars. He has two on the bench now.
Hi Taffy, cheers mate. Thanks for the info. I think I have previously mentioned I am in the process of building a house and workshop. I had a workshop 'full of tools and machines' in the UK and now I have transported the lot to Thailand. Its arrived in country today, so looking to have it onsite early November.
I have been asking questions on this forum and had great advice form you and others. I have sourced my materials and guitar hardware and have found a wood/lumber merchant close by. I am keen to start building and once Ii have a guitar I will share
Thank you for your advice and support