I built two dulcimers from scratch in the early 90s. No instructions, just a borrowed dulcimer to use as a pattern. I bought used tuners and frets from a shop in Omaha, Nebraska. My dulcimers came out pretty okay.
Then I built a travel guitar somewhat modeled after a Martin travel guitar. It had tuners salvaged from an Ebay purchased guitar that was pretty much a wreck. My home made travel guitar had a poorly tapered neck, a too thick top and a poor fret job. It was crap, but the building process was fun.
Then approx 2006 or 2007, I saw a video on CBGs. I made one, a fretless with a piezo pickup salvaged from a door bell! THAT WAS FUN. But I got that 3 string done and pretty much did not know what to do with it. The few how-to play-videos did not click for me.
In 2008, I built a shop to work in. I busted the crappy travel guitar on the concrete floor and used the tuners and frets to make a fretted cigar box banjo. It was pretty good and I kind of knew how to play it. Four strings tuned DGBD.
In about 2009 I found CBN and lurked here off and on and joined in (I think) 2010. Those were my fave days of the CBG world. I don't recall for sure if Gitty was going then. I think so. I remember being pretty excited about the availability of economy tuners, piezos and jacks.
Those were thumping days. We thumped boxes for tone. We hot melt glued piezos in boxes and then in a moment of great anticipation, we hooked up to an amp and thumped the box to see if the piezo worked.
Those were the days of found objects that we could use in our CBGs. We went through thrift stores, dollar stores and hardware stores looking for parts and inspiration. Sink drainer sound hole covers. Tarp grommet sound holes covers. We peeked into dumpsters for CBG parts. We salvaged wood from construction sites. We lost sleep thinking about the next step on our builds.
Knotlenny's CBG 101 was the playing video that worked for me. Then Keni Lee Burgess lessons helped and through him, I learned about DGB and ADF#. I felt like I was off and flying. I learned to make a video. It was poorly lit, kind of crudely done and I did not know how to edit the start and stop.
Other folks had other teachers that clicked for them: Shane Speal, John McNair and others. Those were great days for me and lots of others.
Wes Carl and others started making amps. That was a whole new thing. And a good one.
And then along came festivals. I was in the hinterlands and far from fests. In 2011, I got to go to a KC fest. It was in a great blues and BBQ venue. I got up the nerve to do the open mic. :D
I've made a lot of friends on CBN and in the CBG world. Some have come and gone. I've probably made an enemy or two or more. I don't know of any, but written communication and my smart ass nature surely fosters people taking me in the wrong way. I apologize for any feelings I have hurt.
Of the friends and personalities that have come and gone.... Where did they go? Some or many have moved to Face Book or just moved on to other things. I hope they still have a CBG to pick up now and then or maybe even build. A few have died. Dan Sleep comes to mind as I say that. A great guy and innovator in our world. Oh, and Jamie Mac Blues. He was funny and talented... And others...
MONEY MAKING! I once thought I had found a hobby that paid for itself or maybe even MADE money! That never worked out to be true for me. Some folks make a little money on CBGs, but the vast majority of us make nothing or a pittance of profit. But we do it for fun.
I wish now that I had never sold a CBG. I would rather gift them. My builds seldom cost much to make. I am picky about who I gift to. I want my babies to be appreciated. And if the build is a good player, I want it to go to a player.
Those early CBG days seem long past. Now you can buy ready made or even FACTORY MADE CBGs! We can buy pre-made necks, fret boards, boxes with the sound holes cut, boxes with cutouts for pick-ups. We can buy fancy boxes and designer fret boards. We can buy a vast selection of pick ups. We can buy CBG and uke kits. Those parts allow us to build more easily and with better instruments. But to me, they don't seem as sincere and honest.
These are good times, but I am an old fart and I liked the old times better.
Nice read UJ. Always interesting to read back history of peeps I have admired their work.
Those were the days :D
I think alot of what you call "the good ol days" are still here , Some just don't experience or notice them as much as new comers will , To them , they still have the thrill of the chase, asking the wife if she "really " needs that old cooking pan , or belt buckle etc etc .. and looking at anything in store , or any found object as a potential guitar part etc.. Heck . i still do . Sure, alot of it is commercialized now , with kits and ready made guits , but that is for the end buyer in mind mostly, not for the "builders" , besides ready made necks etc .. but . that change is up to the builder , you can always stay as authentic as you want . and be whatever you want . If anything, it has only added variety and options to the cbg genre , with still leaving the option of keeping it real.
I do miss the midnight chat partys tho , ;-)
me too!...I think the good old days are still here too....the music is in a slump....but a every so often some new people come along and its gets fresh again!
Probably true on the music John, but still a lot of good stuff from both regulars and occassionals. I know for myself that I have kind of run out of my fave songs to video. But new ones come. Creativity ebbs and flows.
Thanks, Lonman and Brian.
Pick, you are so right! For the newer folks, they have just found a new love and passion. I still have a lot of that- but at the same time, I can envy them. LOL, on the midnight chat parties. They were and are too late for me- but THOSE WERE THE GOOD OL' DAYS!
Awesome post Uncle John!
Unc, what a great read! I love to hear other people's strories about how they got into this. Compared to you & others of "the old guard", I came along to this relatively late in 2015, although I have played 6 string since 9 years old, and my slide play was abysmal. I'm a mediocre player at best with little talent but it's been a hobby that's kept me out of trouble so all good.
I joined CBN in 2016 having done masses of research into CBG history, CBN, Shane Speal & Justin Johnson Videos. First I made a diddly bow from a lump of pine, 3 unused ADG strings, 2 bolts & 3 eye screw bolts to see if I was capable of getting a tune with it. Pleased with the result I followed that in 2016 with a wooden chocolate box diddly and then my first electric 3 stringer, with a home-made plywood box and parts I had lying around. I played the 3 stringer to death. It taught me to play with a slide and I still have it. I owe it a lot.
Now then, I get what you mean about searching for things to build with. All you did in the early days I still do, I'm a skip-rat!, or Dumpsters as you call them. Yes I buy pickups, tuners & strings but basically there's always a big element of recycling going on with my builds. This is down to necessity & lack of funds sadly but it's highly enjoyable to me to make something from something else. What I'm saying is that the newbys don't have to take the easy way out if they don't want to because they're missing out on so much fun with this hobby....It's just great :D
Thanks for the looks and comments, Cause and Denbo.
Denbo, what you say is good to hear. I still scavenge and look for cool and unusual CBG build elements. I hope a lot of us continue that and remember that this CBG thing began as a way for a poor person to have something to play.
The Hunt is better than the KILL !! Greeeettssszz UJ ,
Ha, Andries. Truth in that. I like that certified old Fart tin.