Glenn has a few videos on building & set up.
All of my builds so far have been electric....I really like the prewired pickups from cb gitty that have the jack and volume and tone wired already...used that on my first build...want to try and do an acoustic build soon. My best advice is to just jump in and try building and go from there...the biggest issues I ran into with my first build was trying to fit pickups into body without interfering with body braces and stuff...but you learn so much from first build....license plate guitars are fun and pretty easy to build
First off, all these answers are just my opinions and there are few 'rules' when it comes to CBGs.
1. String height over frets? This is known as 'action'. This depends on a number of things and it also is a matter of preference. If building for slide only you would want a really high action so you never have to worry about the slide contacting the fretboard/frets. Of course if you have a fretted neck you obviously plan to fret notes and not just play slide. So, in this case you have to play a trade-off btw easy fretting of notes and being able to use a slide without contacting the frets. String gauge AND the number of strings come into play as a heavier gauge string or more strings allow you to go a bit lower with the action as they are tighter at the same tuning which means it takes more pressure from the slide to push them into the frets. I've found that a good compromise is about a dime's gap (1.35mm) a the 1st fret and a penny+dime's gap (2.9mm) at the 12th.
2. Should the neck be kept from touching the inside of the box as much as possible? The theory is that you want the box to be able to resonate as much as possible. With that said, I know people have built identical CBG's with the only difference being how much the top of the neck contacted the box and they didn't find a huge difference. My advice is to not be overly concerned with just how much neck is in contact with the box lid. I don't think it should be in full contact for the length of the neck, but don't worry about a 1/2" difference here or there.
3. Difference btw acoustic and electric builds? For me, it's not much at all. I've built some that I thought were going to be acoustic only and then later decided to add a pickup. One thing I guess is that I wouldn't want to use a tiny box for an acoustic only build as they a generally not very loud. FWIW, I prefer acoustic strings on all my builds and they work just fine with electromagnetic pickups. I'll sacrifice whatever they might lose when plugged in versus how much better they sound when not.
4. Distance btw strings and pickup. A good ballpark is 2-3mm when fretted at the last fret. And that's btw the bottom of the string and pole pieces of the pickup.
5. Ideal spacing btw strings. Well, there is no ideal. The only truly bad spacing is one where the outside strings are too close to the edge of the fretboard and slip off easily when fretting notes. With a 1.5" neck width most 3 stringers go with 1/2" spacing (this leaves 1/4" btw outside strings and edge of fretboard) and most 4 stringers go with 3/8" spacing (this leave 3/16" btw outside strings and edge of fretboard).
Not in my opinion. 1.5" is plenty wide for a 4 string. A typical 6 string guitar is only 42mm (~1.65") at the nut. With a 3/8" spacing, the strings will be wider at the nut than that of a 6 string guitar and only a hair narrower at the bridge.
All my builds have standoffs glued to the box where the neck enters the box and at the other end of the box. I then attach the neck to these standoffs using threaded inserts and machine screws but you could just use wood screws.
The neck angle is done for a player's preference not whether it is acoustic or electric. Les Pauls have neck angles, Strats/Teles don't. I prefer the extra room a neck angle gives the player btw the strings and top of the guitar.
Hi, I have moved into making CBG's from a background in building full acoustic guitars, so I base my building designs on the principles that effect full size guitars. I also keep in mind that it is a basic, and small instrument,but I still strive to get best out of the box, even though it may not have ideal materials.
So, I what keep in mind is, that that only 20% or less of a strings energy, when plucked, is converted into sound. The amount of sound produced stems from the amount of vibrating surfaces of the box is available to move the air in the box cavity. The more sensitive the top and back are to string input, the better volume and I'd say the better the timber used the better the tone.
I plan so as to have as little interference effecting the top and the back as possible. On more important builds that are acoustic, the magnetic pickup does not touch that top at all and neither do the control pots.
For the same reason, regarding air movement and volume, I avoid having the neck going though the box (sound chamber).
One can ignore all of this and still get an instrument that is very playable and enjoyable. Or you can take up the challenge. I'd recommend building a CBG that "works", play it, then when you build # 2, 3' 4, apply the principles used for getting a better performing/sounding cbg.
Bottom line....the box must be responsive to string vibration.
Hi Cory, I was really describing what I do to get the most out of my CBG's. The most important part of the sound producing chain is the top. The pickup mount I use (in selected models) works for the way I have designed and build, the neck stops at the neck block. The volume and tone controls go on the sides or ends of the box. This gives a free area to place pickup and/or bracing and soundhole.
Pic so far
Neck looks great. Love the contrasting woods; walnut and maple? Nice headstock as well.\uap>I might be 100% wrong, but to my eye it appears the nut might not be in the correct position. The spacing btw the nut and 1st fret needs to be measured where the string leaves contact with the nut. When using a threaded rod, or any other cylindrical object, this is roughly the middle of the rod. With a traditional nut it would be the front edge of the nut. To my eye it looks as if the threaded rod is placed so that its front edge is the desired distance to the 1st fret. This would mean the nut has been placed too far away because that's not where the string actually breaks contact with the rod. \uap>Red line indicates where string breaks contact with the threaded rod: \uap>
Oh crap, I think you may be right. I will have to check on that. This whole time I’ve been concerned with lowering the nut to get the correct “action”. I filed a nice groove for the nut to sit in but wasn’t sure on string height. How important is that measurement between the nut and 1st fret, is there any leeway? Damn thing looks nice I just knew I would screw something up.