I have recently bought a 25.5 scale 12 string bolt on neck and want to make what can safely be called a big ass canjo using it and a massive tin I have laying around and I have little to no clue on what do.

Need to know a few things:

1. what is the stringing and tuning. what gauges will work best, should I use electric or acoustic strings?

2. how much bracing do I need inside the tin to make it strong enough for the string tension (other than the block of wood I use to mount the neck on)?

3. any suggestion on amplification, are there particular pickups for 12 strings or should I just glue in a couple of Piezo discs?

4.. anything I REALLY should know before starting this.

Any examples of anyone trying something this before will be very helpful, in inspiration to bring this thing to life.

Any help, will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys.

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Hi JP, it's not only the bracing needed to resist downward pressure on the can,but also extra strengthening to stop the string tension trying to shorten the can, if you know what I mean.


I get what you mean, I've watched a can get shorter in the past, it ain't a pretty sight.

The Tin I'm using in quite on the large size: 13.5inches x 10.5inches x 3.5inches, I figured bigger sound from bigger tin, lot of strengthening going to be needed.

Maybe build a frame around the tin, then string tension wouldn't be an issue. At that point, either type stings might work. But there would be the pressure on the tin, that could be a problem, unless possibly using some thin wood holding up the tin, where the nut will be.

Hi again, just to be clear, is this a can, as in cylinder or upright, or a tin as in flat biscuit type?
A pic of what's being used would solve the problem.
Cheers Taff

It is a flat Biscuit Tin, actually more like a giant Chocolate Fruits and nuts tin. Here it isI've used one of these for 2 previous builds, one for a 24 fret 6 string with a trapeze tailpiece and the other for a double neck bass and 6 stringer.

Also side question, is a Canjo any guitar made using a metal box of any description or is specific to something using a can?

Hi JP, ah ha know I see, that tin is easy to reinforce to handle the string tension, in both directions. Now mounting the neck may be your next plan, so that the bridge is in or as close as possible to the "sweet spot" on the top/lid.

 I did say easy, that should read do-able, supporting the lid will be a bit more work. Is the guitar planned as acoustic or electric?

As you have done this before maybe just beef up the support you used for the 6 string.

I always think of two different type of containers when I hear "can" and "tin".


Mounting the Neck is the easy part, as its an old bolt neck from an electric 12 stringer, I will run a length of wood through the tin that the neck can be mounted on  I have done on my other builds. If a length of Pine can hold my bass necks, it should hold the 12 stringer.

The neck may be from an electric guitar, but I am amplifying it with Piezos, so its going to be acoustic, but the added tension of acoustic strings still concern me.

finding the right bridge is proving tricky though, I'm in the UK and the selection of parts here is not the greatest. I will have to order from abroad to get what I'm thinking of. I'm thinking something Leadbelly esque for this prototype.

I'm looking forward to hearing it.  But with this build, I don't see why you're set on acoustic strings.  Electric strings will resonate just fine, and you can keep the tension low.

I'm not set of Acoustic strings per se, when I think 12 string guitar, my mind goes acoustic and that is the sound I am chasing a little bit here. if electric strings can do that for me, I'll go for it. reducing the tension is a benefit for this, I've had some bad cases of bowing because of tension.

Hi Jp, I have the same tin in my workshop but keep my wet & dry sheets in it. 

A couple of considerations, you may already be aware of. 12 string acoustic sets are more common and go nearly as low as an electric set but with more choice. Electric sets may have to be made up of single strings to get much variety.

As for the bridge, if you are going to buy one I would suggest a nylon string type. Change the saddle to accommodate twelve strings and modify the back of the bridge to give the strings a clear path to the tailpiece.

For me I would put the bridge in the area of the "U" on the top, also gives room behind for the tailpiece.

You will have to work in the parameters of the raised lettering and motives for the bridge. Whilst talking about the bridge, the one mentioned above would need to be modified in height due to the raised rim around the edge of the lid.

I can see that the lid could withstand the downward pressure of the strings, but would sag maybe 7mm 1/4" so bracing it is a challenge, especially with the timber from the through neck so close, the tin is pretty shallow. 

I can see how to make the tin deeper by about 20mm, if needed, and the way to stiffen the top is what I did with the cbg pictured here , is to use a wooden top with the tin lid covering it. Piezo sounds better too.

Anyway just few bit of food for thought, as you asked.   


Thank you Taff

the raised lettering may not cause any problems, I've worked with others of this tin in the past without much worry. I'm thinking of putting something under the lid around where the bridge piece will sit in order to help brace against the string pressure, same for the tailpiece as it will be need to be strong enough to help the 12 strings.

All good, keep us posted.



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