• Hi All,

    I was inspired by some of the photos in this thread to build my own headless 3-string stick dulcimer using a design not that different than the ones used by Fergus Morris and Tracey Kennedy. Tracey's method (which tries to eliminate the "big hole" on the tail side of the sound box) turns out to be rather difficult, so I ended up cutting a big hole to make mounting the tuners much simpler. Here are some photos...
    Specs:  LOA = 22.5", VSL = 18"

  • Shifts the center of gravity toward the body, letting your left hand concentrate on playing instead of supporting the instrument.  With a featherweight CBG, it's more of a hypothetical benefit.

  • here is the fifth setup

    240117909?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024here is the fork head


  • Hi,

    I built this a few years ago, I wanted a headless because I got fed up of knocking the tuners and having to retune, plus easily transportable. I had to use a wheel system for the strings to go around into the body, and I uses a fork for the head, plus the fifth is just a small hole with a screw to hold the string.


    • Cool Banjo! I like it!

      The strings are routed to the tuners in a manner similar to Laranor's solid body headless guitar. Here's a photo of that.


      I have also been thinking the banjo's 5th string can be handled the same way with a headless design and all the tuners in the box.

  • A six string CBG is heavy as hell in the neck if you don't make it a true solid body. Putting tuners down at the body would go a long way toward alleviating that. I have to imagine that this is the reason they do it on a Steinberger. The bodies on those things are so small to begin with.
  • Heck I havent gotten that far yet Sam. I just did it 15 minutes ago to see if I could do it without hacking the box up. I suppose some sort of string tree between the tuner and the bridge would be the best option.
  • How are you going to handle the string spacing.....
    Tracy Kennedy said:
    Well OK this far fetched?

    • I'm still around Jim. I just don't frequent as much I used too. Rand, yes yes and yes you are correct. That example was a "let's see if I can do it" thing for this thread. One of the others built one pictured on this there'd and admitted to hacking the box up. I just tried to do it to see if it could be done without butchering the box and to see if my approach was viable. I never completed the build. It's still sits on the bench as you see it in the picture above.... Covered in dust. Along with all the other builds I was in the middle of when life decided to get in the way of my build time. I miss building them and I'll get back to it someday when life decides to slow down
      • Hi Tracy,

        At first glance, your method of installing the tuners looks super simple, but when you get down to actually doing it, the process is fairly difficult. Mounting the 3 tuners on the block of wood is not hard, but when you go to mount that board with the tuners into the cigar box, then you realize that you have to disassemble the 3 tuners so than you can drill 3 more holes in the side of the cigar box where the tail piece usually attaches. You need to make one hole per tuner knob, and then you have to reassemble the tuners with the 3 tuner knobs oriented so that their shafts go though the side of the cigar box while the board with the tuner base plates and shaft is in place, and then you have to put on the gears and screw in the 3 little screws. And all the holes and all the parts have to line-up perfectly. I also see in your photo that you had to drill 3 more holes in the back board so you could stick in your screw driver to tighten the gear screws. IMHO this method is just too tough.

        However, I have started building a headless CBG using a modified version of your approach. In my approach, I cut out a piece of wood in the back side (tail-end) of the box through which the tuner knobs can easily pass. This makes the installation process much simpler. The other difference in my design is that my tuners have the string hole mid-way up the shaft (because they are the only ones I have in stock... I usually build instruments with slotted headstocks). So, my tuners are mounted a bit higher than yours and the shafts stick up even higher (not a good thing... maybe next time I'll saw off the excess part of the tuner shafts... the metal shafts are not that hard to cut with a hack saw). Instead of a standard "neck-thru", or "neck-almost-thru" neck attachment, I have run a board the same diameter and thickness of the neck down the bottom of the box and I secure the neck to this board via 3 wood screws to avoid having the neck come into the area used by the 3 tuners.

        I still have to cut and glue on the sound board which will be 2mm thick plywood veneer (the cigar box top was too thick) and I need to fret the fretboard, both of which I'll do tomorrow. I have been taking some photos, so I will upload some to let you see how I did it. The photos should illustrate much of what I said via text above.

        In re-reading this thread, I guess my approach is similar to the "gaping hole at the back of the box" approach used by Fergus Morris and for which you were trying to figure a work-around... the one you refer to as "hacking the box up". Well, I think a gaping hole "hack" is the most practical way, but sure if you have the skill and patience your method could be done.


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