I picked up a couple nice cigar boxes one of which is basically an upside down pyramid(only tapered on 2 sides) my concern is the thickness of the lids, they are every bit of 1/4" of hard wood. One is going on display in a cigar store so flipping it over isn't an option because of the lid(Henry Clay War Hawk). Will the thick lid resonate or should I go thicker strings or lighter ones (open G tuning) any suggestions?
Hi Will, all I'll say is that the top (lid in this case) is the most important part of the acoustic instruments sound producing chain. Most of a strings energy is lost in its attempt to excite the top, so you can imagine that the more responsive you make that top, the better the sound output.
Whats going to respond quicker and more efficiently to string input? Thinner lighter tops.
I know it's only a CBG, but it's an acoustic instrument and it sounds to me like you are thinking of how to get the best out of it.
Dead on Taff, one of saving graces (I hope) is the lid sits loosely down into the box supported by thin cedar strips on all 4 sides. By loosely I mean it has about 1/32" or less of play in any direction to slide, but not fall in. I'm thinking about using my small plane and shaving it down some on the inside, at least where the bridge sets or cutting "F" holes for sound and to give the wood some way to resonate, cutting closely spaced kerfs from side to side. The only two parameters I "have to" work in are cannot mar the original finish on the outside(other then hardware and Soundholes) and maintain the thickness on the 4sides. This is the very most important CBG that I'll build, (other than the ones I'm making for the troops) not only does it have to look good, it "has" to sound good! This will get me out there. Like having your artwork on permanent display in an art gallery kind of thing for me! Any suggestions and guidance will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Kool Dog
If you are going to thin the top, which is a good idea, I would thin the outside edges of the lid more so. I'm thinking that a thin area under the bridge will not create a full vibrating plate. We are getting into guitar building techniques now, a bit involved for these pages, maybe.
Think of your top as a speaker. A speaker is very flexible around its outside perimeter so that it can efficiently respond to the incoming signal. Acoustic instruments be it guitar, mandolin or violin are often "tuned" by extra thinning of the top around its outside edge.
Thanks Taff for your expertise. That makes sense and doable. What are your thoughts on the 'f' holes on either side of the bridge? I don't have a lot of surface area to play with because of graphics. I'm trying to upload a photo or two, but I'm having technical issues.
Its difficult for me to advise on soundhole placement as there are quite a few things to consider, The main concern for me would be not to over weaken the area around the bridge, where there is lots of downward force from the strings. It might be something you have to weigh up for yourself. Its all a learning curve.
Soundholes weaken the top, braces strengthen the top, its a balancing act in guitar building.
I'd suggest considering a magnetic pickup. Even if it ends up not sounding good acoustic, it should sound good plugged in. As long as the pickup looks natural in there and it sounds good plugged in, you should expect it to be a reputation-builder. It seems like the majority of people like having the option of plugging in and cranking it up. It's cool that you are making the most out of your opportunity and planning out each step.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I also found out only the ends at supported.
Hi Will, to resonate efficiently the lid/top is best secured to the sides all round its edges.
LOL, Just had to burst my bubble. I have some cedar inserts I can cut and glue on the sides. If it wasn't for the fact it needs to be functional as well a display, I'd flip the damn thing over and use the plywood bottom.
I'm just putting this out here for thoughts on the matter. I don't know "if" it will work, but I'm at a stand still on work. I planning on putting in an 1/8" false bottom about 1/4" from the real bottom with reverb springs attached to it and sound holes drilled into the lid. The bridge will be constructed from thin vertical Harwood strips with a rod Piezo embedded. The assembly will rest atop 1 or 2 dowels or brass rods extending through the lid to the false bottom. Hoping the vibration will excite the false bottom. Below is a rough drawing.
Hi Will, I will not go in depth on the subject as we are talking simple box design guitars, but I believe the principals used by Luthiers in other forms of acoustic instruments apply Also in the instruments we build here.
The back is an important part of the sound producing chain of an instrument, and many builders (me included) have played with bracing ideas to help the back reinforce the work of the strings and the top.
Double backs have been used in guitars in efforts to improve output and tone for some time, but I have not looked into it myself, so can not give any advice. My first thought was that the posts and/or the springs may dampen the (thinner) back you put in.
I admire your willingness to try to get more out of a simple box. Try it Will and let us know your findings.
Thanks Taff, my idea of the rod was to be a direct link from the bridge to the false bottom. I'm also thinking of using a thin sheet of aluminum.