Headless three string building and playing. What I learned.

I'm relatively new to the whole cbg world. I caught the bug last fall, and this is my sixth build. I worked my way from a simple parts kit supplied with a cigar box, add your own neck, to a paint can lid reso kit, followed by a fretless and two more conventional builds. For three of the five I used delta buckers, and for number five, scratch built the mahogany box body. Along the way I learned about neck profiling and action height, and the science of bridges and nuts. 

I played number five a lot, and I’m actually learning how to play halfway decent, considering I started playing when I built the first one. One thing I found a bit frustrating was stability with a light, small bodied guitar. I don’t particularly like being harnessed into a strap, especially when seated, but the small cbg box body isn’t exactly ergonomic. I was always aware of splitting my attention between maintaining proper position, keeping the neck from dipping, while chasing frets and chord shapes. Late one evening I began looking at headless designs. I really didn’t like all the junk of a straight pull tuner system, and I’m not a fan of a hardtail bridge for acoustic design. It deadens the soundboard too much for my liking. So I thought about ways to incorporate headless and acoustic, while not cluttering  it all up with gobs of hardware. I reasoned that a roller tailpiece would allow the tuning gear to go inside the box, managing strings around corners,  and eventually settled on using off the shelf sealed gear tuners, and small ball hearing V pulleys to direct the strings as well as to create the roller tailpiece. Arranging the tuning heads side by side, the string pegs toward the tail, tuning knobs toward the back, all of the gear in “box within box” to isolate the hardware outside the acoustic chamber, yet within the perimeter of the box structure. Using 1/4x2 1/2 poplar for box sides gave me enough room inside the box for the hardware. Red cedar top and back and a hard maple neck and walnut fretboard gave it bright tone, and a relatively generous box size of 13x7 1/2 x 2 3/4 overall generates respectable volume. Along the way I kept friction as low as possible by using the rollers, and a polished steel saddle on a walnut bridge. Tuning is as slick and responsive, no ratchety resistance, and the strings ought to stay happy. Speaking of strings, my go to is LMM GDG, and I sourced them from D’Addario, .024, .034, .044, round wound from a 120XL set. 

Action is low. A dime jams under the strings halfway between the nut and first fret. Fretboard is walnut and is dead flat, and the soundboard absolutely parallel to the neck. With the bright western red cedar box with tight joints tightly glued (no screws) it’s bright and lively to play. Effortless gentle picking or bare finger playing yields full bright sound even at super low levels. Normal relatively gentle picking is quite loud, with sustain for days, yet smartly responsive to the subtlest palm muting. Plugged in, the surface mount wicked bucker works a treat, doing exactly what I expect it to. 

The playing ergonomics are really nice. The guitar weighs 45 ounces, and balances right at the pickup. So it sits happily on my knee, the slightly tapered sides making the neck point up a little, and no tendency to drop. I can literally release the neck and slide my hand up or down, and it stays put. It’s only been a few days, but I’m settling in and enjoying the headless acoustic experience a bunch. For any small bodied acoustic/electric guitar, getting that balance point inside the box, where it’ll sit on the flat of your hand and not tip, changes everything. Think tight joints, and wood with good sonic velocity to keep things lively, and you’ll smile when you play. 

Views: 792

Attachments:

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Nice, very nice! That is a piece of art, you should be and are rightfully proud of your creation! Great job! Now make a video, want to hear it!

Just realized the pics I chose didn’t have the permanent bridge in place. 

(Thanks, Will for the kind words. A video is on my to do list.)

Unique clean lines very cool

That's really cool and innovative Bruce.   Thanks for sharing.  It's a beauty too.

Very well done sir! Did you groove the steel saddle pin for each string or is it smooth end to end?

It’s smooth end to end, polished stainless, a dowel pin. Were I thinking of using it to shred, I would’ve tried grooves, but thought for my style it would be ok smooth, and that made controlling string height and insuring smooth string pull over bridge.

Very nicely executed Bruce!

I've brainstormed and designed for a headless, but was never happy. Too complex as you say. This is functional simplicity. I like it!

Is the "roller block" wood?

The roller tailpiece is the tail end of the maple neck, slotted to accept the pulleys, and cross drilled to accept the axle. Much like a traditional block and tackle. The other part of the rig is a crossways oriented cutoff of the maple neck, drilled to accept the tuning heads and two string guide rollers that route the upper and lower strings from the tailpiece to the tuning heads. Aside from the tuning heads, nothing screws together. The axle pins are snug slip fit and trapped, and the entire structure glued up using reinforcing blocks as needed. 

Well thought out, and I like it alot. 

Zero fret I assume too. 

Other than perhaps a little more space around the tuner knobs, I may at some point "borrow" heavily from this! Nice!

Beautiful work all the way around Bruce! I never weigh in on how to build - starts too many bar fights - but you seem to want to maximize acoustic volume and mentioned you build your neck level to the body. If I read that right, I strongly suggest you add back angle to your repetoire. This has almost doubled the acoustic volume of my builds as well as improving playability. Anything from1.5 to 2 degrees makes a big difference. Even on all-electrics, it lets you keep the string height sweet and LOW - whether neck-thru or set-neck - while allowing a slimmer fingerboard height over the body without your pick or fingers contacting the box or pickup. Just my two cents but I learned it from Richie Kay and want to pay it forward. Now Imhave to look for your sound sample!

Brilliant.  I have been conceptualizing intriguing Tuner options, but your execution is exquisite.  I didn’t see the scale size you built, cause it looks long.  Absolutely a heirloom piece of art.

Mark -bone nut

Tim, 25 inch scale, CB Gitty walnut fretboard. 

Strings are D’Addario .044, .034, .024 tuned  LMM GDG

Someone also asked what the pulley block is made of. It is the maple neck tail end. The tuners and string guide rollers are also mounted on a maple block transverse to the tailpiece. It’s all braced and glued together, no screws anywhere except the anti rotation screws holding tuners, and serving as single point ground.

RSS

The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Forum

This month's installment of "WHAT THE HECK IS IT?"

Started by Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner 39 minutes ago. 2 Replies

Untitled

Started by Andrew Connors in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion 10 hours ago. 0 Replies

Mini powered scrollsaw

Started by Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner in Other stuff - off topic, fun stuff, whatever. Last reply by Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner yesterday. 4 Replies

Blog Posts

Tab for Ry Cooder

Posted by Keith Gibson on September 30, 2019 at 12:44pm 2 Comments

Ducktail Run in James Dean Country

Posted by Rick Tish on September 29, 2019 at 9:57pm 1 Comment

Tiki mask guitar

Posted by Phil Stickings on September 27, 2019 at 12:39pm 5 Comments

Festival in the land that time forgot

Posted by Rick Tish on September 23, 2019 at 10:09am 2 Comments

Latest Activity

Timothy Hunter replied to Taffy Evans's discussion Video.. Building an Evans full acoustic guitar
"i meant a link in this thread. looks like Davic L posted one."
17 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Daniel Walter's photo
Thumbnail

boxcar boys coming soon....preparing jerky....

"I hope this ride is south bound.  I gots a can of chili beans and a can of peaches. …"
23 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Gary Thorne's photo
Thumbnail

20191018_183215

"Nice peg head and decoration!"
27 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Wade's photo
Thumbnail

Double Trouble

"Super nice.  What is the tribe tail piece?"
29 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Jeff 'Bones' Reilly's photo
Thumbnail

Fret Rocking not so shocking

"Yes, sir!  No bones about it.   I like the paint and peg head."
30 minutes ago
Uncle John commented on Dave Lynas's video
Thumbnail

Let that Boy Boggie

"It's in and it's got to come out."
35 minutes ago
Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner replied to Will "KOOL DOG HOOCH" Bonner's discussion This month's installment of "WHAT THE HECK IS IT?"
"All it does is makes a half dome bump with a slot."
39 minutes ago
Kevin Keating liked Jim Morris's video
40 minutes ago
Jim Morris commented on AGP #'s photo
Thumbnail

AGP #369 - ''Tamjo''

"Looks great! I don't know why it doesn't have volume or twang. sure looks like it should!"
43 minutes ago
Dave Lynas commented on Dave Lynas's video
Thumbnail

Hobo Boogie Bass

"Thanks Jim. Thanks Tony. I love your Boogie Jim. you do it right."
45 minutes ago
Dave Lynas posted videos
48 minutes ago
Jim Morris commented on Downtown Vinnie's video
Thumbnail

Veggie Reggae

"Worthy of a vegamite sandwich!"
1 hour ago

Music

Loading…

© 2019   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/963882636?profile=original") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->