This has been niggling at me for months, and now is the time to raise this in the community. I’m guessing that many of you have, in response to some question or another, replied “I build guitars. Well, actually, when I say guitars I mean cigar box guitars...” and then apologise for not being Paul Reed Smith or Senor Ibanez. I have a friend who, after admiring one of my creations, said “So when are you going to try building a proper guitar?” meaning (I asked) one with six strings.

I’ve now stopped apologising for what I do, which is design and build guitars. The fact that they have three strings (or fewer) does not make them any less a guitar. There are twelve-string guitars out there, so has (say) Slash ever apologised for playing a six-string instrument, humbly admitting that it’s not a real guitar because it’s only got six strings? No one has a go at banjo or ukulele players- or bass players (much). The friend who urged me to try to build “a proper guitar” is herself a bass player, but did not spot the irony (well, she IS a bass player...).

I’ll write It again. I design and build guitars. Pretty much every member of CBN designs and builds guitars. We are not slavish followers of standard templates- single cut, double cut, figure-of-eight, and... er, that’s it- although most of our builds are rectangular, to be fair. Pretty much every git by every member is different, with its own problems to be overcome. I look at a piece of hardwood and then design and build a guitar around it, or I build an attractive box and then design a neck to fit. Headstock shape, depth of box, manner of tailpiece, length of scale- we design these things, people, and then we build them. And they work, most of the time, and we learn something new, and we apply it to the next one, and the next one...

No more apologies, no more qualifications, no more “well, they’re not real guitars”- I design and build guitars. We all do.

We build guitars.

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  • Hi  Will, what do I do in my spare time? you ask.....its all in the photo.

    Tim, do I build twelve strings, you asked. Well yes I do here's a photo of the last one.......

    792799014?profile=RESIZE_710x 3173863079?profile=RESIZE_710x Thanks for the nice comments folks, and don't sell yourselves short, any instrument you build is worthy of praise. Especially when one can appreciate the time, effort, research and frustrations that go into early builds, and later builds for that matter. Taff

    • It's apparent that Taff has spent a long time over some years building all types of guitars.

      The term Master Builder comes to mind from some of the examples I've seen.

      • Awesome builds Taff. The idea that someone as talented as you takes the time to make CBGs is totally cool. 

        Don't tink I didn't see that Paul Craig. You tone wooded me. Oh Ya??? Well tone wood to you too. : ) 

        And speaking of tone. Didn't Gitty or Shane do a wood to paper cigar box bodied guitar sound comparison some time ago? With both of them sounding equally as good. Not sure what section of the forum it was in. Kinda thinking either the Cigar box Nation News or Featured article section. 

        • Hey thanks for the nice comments guy,s. It's taken a while. But it has always been a back runner to family, motorcycles, instrument repairs and "going bush". It's been a lifelong hobby.

          Now im retired I devote more time to the serious side of guitar building, after, family, instrument repairs and motorcycles. Cbg's come when I can fit them in, or I need a break. Looks like the order has changed.

          Tone wood, don't get me started.......I'll be back. As the man said.


        • ;)

    • that is beautiful Taff.  love the gecko inlay.  if i ever get enough money together i may need to commission a 12 string from you..

  • Thanks for that Will.

    Hi yet again. It was a good start to this thread and a good subject too.
    I’m thinking that saying “we build guitars” is a bit limiting in describing what a lot of members do build and what they build out of.
    Other stringed instrument families have their different size members, starting from whatever they call the smallest up to the biggest in the line-up, normally a Bass or baritone. But more often than not they have the same shape and built from the same or similar materials. So one name fits all.
    Even using the word [tongue in cheek] “firewood” does not tell the whole story, because after taking the photo below I realised that not all of the instruments pictured are firewood candidates. Not if you know what you are burning anyway.
    I think I have covered a fair selection of the range stringed instruments here, and for want of better descriptions they apparently fall under the umbrella of, folk, manmade, found, dumpster, recycled, reused, reclaimed etc, etc. And……Cigar Box Guitars, well only two in this photo do.
    Left to right in the photo.
    Front row, Bass bread board, Lap steel violin case, Banjo fencing, x2, 3 string fencing, 6 string acoustic solid tonewood.
    2nd row. Bass shovel, Diddly Bow tea box, Violin antique tin, Stick Dulcimer solid tonewood, Hooray! A 3 string CBG, Uke fence/ply, Violin Solid body Osage Orange.
    Back Row. Large dogbowl Resonator style Fence and Plywood, Hooray! Cigar Box Guitar 6 string electric.
    I’m not into labels anyway, just build the bloody things I say. Ha Ha.


    • I can only echo Will’s “killer job!” comment. Nice effect lent to the front row by the (near vertical?) N Qld sun too. However- and don’t feel that this is in any way belittling your fine fine work- they’re all guitars in one form or another- with the possible exceptions of the dulcimer and the violin. The sign is a giveaway too- Evans Guitars. Except that you don’t just build them, you breathe life into them.

      You haven’t copywrited those sound holes by any chance, have you? I wouldn’t dare try them on anything but poplar plywood as all I have to work with is a craft knife, but there are some nice ideas there. 

      The attached lineup is a poor show by comparison (and has already appeared once in Pics, last week)- front row, l-r: lpg with toasterbucker, (almost entirely obscured by) plywood diddley-bo (my own soundhole), long-scale one-string bass (for recording), nylon-strung lpg, cedar topped box with my first ever neck-and-fretboard combination. Back row: wine box guitar (wbg) with single-pole pup, and my old Overseas acoustic. Three more gits- an acoustic, a wbg with wickedbucker and a solid oak topped long body, also with wickedbucker, are within arm’s length of where I was sat. Virtually none of those ten are for sale, which is why I’m tearing down a derelict garage to build a workshop. As I say, poor show by comparison, but every build shows me another thing I shouldn’t be doing!


      • "every build shows me another thing I shouldn’t be doing!" For sure! My first build is showing me, "leave this shit alone! You can screw up a bowling ball with a wet news paper!" But Nooo! I just keep plugging away at it. Who knows, maybe I'll make something playable. Don't know why you are downplaying your work, the One thing that counts in "all" of our(homemade guitar builders) it's a work of love! (In my case I may seek a divorce) It may not be perfect, but we made it with our own hands. You also have a great looking selection there! Is that a beer can on the floor for size comparison?LOL

        • Not a beer can but a very well-chewed dog bone. Sadly our border terrier has such powerful jaws that anything suitable for a bone slide he just chews up and eats...

          ”My first build...”- most of my first ten have been broken down for parts; I was up to twenty before I had built anything I cared to give to family or friends (well, #19 got retrofitted and given to a good mate for his 60th birthday, but it’s otherwise the case). Even now I’m still making mistakes, but they’re mostly playable... Case in point- I’m on holiday this week, just me and my son, in the pretty little fishing town of Whitby (look it up). As I don’t watch tv, I’ve bought no fewer than four of my creations with me to fool around with and to record stuff on GarageBand. From l-r: my current go-to acoustic (until I build something better), the one-string bass again, the diddley-bow again, and my recording electric wbg. Spot the absolute kludge under the flat-wound humbucker- that was the third pup I’d tried in that, and the first two needed bigger holes. The sound holes on the bass seemed like a good idea on paper... I had already built thirty-odd before I made those fork-ups. I’m not a trained woodworker by any means- self taught, with hand tools- but I’m happier building and playing these than at any time in my life, and no longer have any fear of being bored when I retire (I’m 61).

          Keep building, and learning. Before too long you’ll come up with something that will make CBN collectively go ‘wow’.3170061836?profile=RESIZE_710x

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