Hi all of you builders of funky instruments,

I have this pretty nougat tin from France lying around here and it yearns to be made into some kind of stringed instrument. I’m thinking short scale guitar with nylon strings, either a four stringer or a six stringer with three double courses tuned like a three stringer...

I don’t know yet whether I’ll make it a neck-through or even a “neck-around” (something like this:) I have only built instruments with wooden boxes so far and never worked with a tin – and that’s where my question comes in:

How do I reinforce this thing so that the pressure of the strings doesn’t cave in the fairly thin and flexible lid without dampening the vibration of the lid too much? How do you reinforce your tins?

All kinds of advice (and, even better: pictures) greatly appreciated!



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I would use a through neck do the same way as a cigar box I’ve got a great tinjo that is set up like that and it’s great love it’s sound and it’s got its own reverb that comes through the tin lid . If you need some pics have a look at my FisherBoy tinjo build . Have fun . 

Thanks, Bones! The Fisher Boy looks awesome! Looks like the neck is placed directly under the lid, is that correct? That would be the easiest way of making sure that the lid doesnt cave in, of course. With wooden boxes I always leave some space between the neck and the lid so that the lid can vibrate freely. But maybe that's not necessary with tins.

...Has anyone ever tried X-bracing on a tin lid?

thanks Hans yes it goes right through but I have left 1/2” of timber at either end of neck so it supports the tin but I’ve then cut more out of neck so the tin lid vibrates this is how I set up my necks 

That's exactly how I do it for cigar boxes too. But with this tin I'm afraid the string pressure would just dent the lid until it sits on the notched neck...

I would try some fan bracing: http://www.cigarboxnation.com/photo/glue-up-2

X-bracing would probably work too: http://www.cigarboxnation.com/photo/top-bracing

Thanks, Kirk, I've done X-bracing like this on the thin plywood lid of a wine box with very good results. I guess doing it on a tin lid would be pretty much the same with the exeption of having to use epoxy instead of wood glue...

That'd be my guess!  Please post pics of the process ... maybe even a video?  I regret not bracing a Star Wars tin build I had.

Another idea: The lid is really flexible and wobbly (it bends under just a tiny bit of finger pressure), so what about gluing a thin piece of plywood to the underside of the tin lid? This would essentially turn it into a plywood soundboard with a tin veneer...

Has anybody tried this? And, if yes, how did it sound?

On the 2 tins I've made I just let the tin rest on the trough-neck and they still sounded great with plenty of volume. Your millage may vary but you could start that way and change it later if you don't like the sound.

Thanks, Korrigan, I might try that.

I'm still not sure whether I'll do a neck-through with this tin though. Maybe I'll also try my strange "neck-around" idea. I've moved away from neck-throughs lately and this tin is pretty small, so I'm afraid the through-neck could take up too much of the limited resonance body...

And then I looked at your tin-in the-box build... (very nice, like all of your builds! I clicked through your whole gallery... this is some impressive output, you've got going there!) I'm very intrigued by this idea to put the tin into a wooden box and might very well steal it for my nougat tin... Does the tin sit on the bottom of the wooden box or is there space in between? And did you cut any hidden soundholes into the tin?

Vielen Dank Hans, glad you like my stuff. Feel free to steal any of my ideas you want... because they aren't mine... I stole them all from the fine folks here at CBN.   : )

The tin is suspended from the bottom of the box by the neck. I don't remember exactly how much but I think about 20 to 25 mm. I cut large rectangular holes in the bottom of the tin on each side of the neck, so about 50% of the bottom of the tin was removed. I think what gives it it's distinctive reso sound is the sound waves bounce back and forth between the back of the box and the top of the tin before finally exiting the box. I have a video of it on my page if you want to give it a listen, it's called Victoria.

Hi Hans, I have a couple of comments or two.

I think a round the tin neck may need as much wood if not more, than if going straight through. Definitely more time and effort. If you go this route I would suggest a heal and tailblock joined together with a dowel, banjo style.

Yes I have braced a  tin violin I built recently. The lid was arched like a violin body and as the bridge sat close to the middle I put two braces in. I used two transverse/ladder braces. Gluing wood to tin means finding a glue that will hold. You will see small screws adding strength through the top.

Also I have put a wooded top under a tin top and sat the bridge on that. See photo.

Cheers Taff


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