Building the "Stumpwater" fiddle

Hey Gang,

So, I've got most of the parts together to start building what I am going to call the "Stumpwater" fiddle. It ain't done yet, but I'm already working on the "Stumpwater Blues" song, "...Oh, I've got the blues...Got the Stumpwater blues...".

I have 5 cigar boxes now, trying to decide which is the best one for a first fiddle build. Local tobacconist, B&B Cigars sells the empty boxes for $3.00 each and donates all proceeds to the local animal rescue folks.

I bought the tailpiece off Ebay for $3.99. Uke pegs off Ebay for $3.99. I think I will use the poplar for the neck. I am thinking I will glue two pieces together and use it against the grain for strength. I am going to use the red oak for the fingerboard. 

If I use the thicker cigar box, the "Nicks" box, it will be narrower, but I will need to put the poplar through the cigar box, I think. If I use the a thinner box, I can float it similar to what Steve does with Carolina fiddles. 

My thoughts were to build my own bridge, because all of them I've found are for a curved body surface. However, I am open to feedback if the consensus is the storebought bridge is better (otherwise, anybody ever build their own bridge before?)

Any and all feedback, suggestions, ideas, or nitpicking is welcome!

Thanks, AL.


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  • You will have to adjust the bridge either by filing the feet down flat, or by glueing shims to fill up the angle, and then filing down flat. Either way works, but the last way keeps the bridge at the correct height.

    • Hi Gang,

      Here we are gluing the ebony fingerboard to the neck.


      I'll keep you posted!

      AL in Asheville

    • ...And here we're gluing the neck into the box.




    • Hey Gang,

      Here's progress:


      End Pin


      I'll keep you posted.


    • Hey gang,

      RE: Tuning pegs:

      I learned a long time ago, when I'm making sawdust...Sometimes you are able to complete parts of the construction with beauty and grace...Other times, well, there are no mistakes, just those steps that show character and home-made authenticity,,,That said, the tuning pegs are on my home-made fiddle...



      Keep on sawin'!  I'll keep ya' posted!


    • Just stumbled upon this thread and was eagerly following progress and saddened that there aren't any finished pics.  Can you update and let us know how things turned out?  Would love to see a video to hear this bad boy as well.  Love the name of the fiddle too!

  • The "stumpwater" is looking good, taking good shape! I see you got the angled neck thing going on. You could file and sand the bridge down, or shape it with a sharp knife sand sandpaper, but if you want a real professional finish to match your tailpiece look, they sell real bridges on EBay for under $12. That's how I will go on my next violin.

    • Hi All,

      So, I purchased an ebony fingerboard off Ebay, which means I had to reexamine my strategy for the fiddle neck. I also bought the tailpiece off Ebay, as per Tim's suggestion. Regarding the tweaking of the neck, I had to decrease the angle to accommodate the addition of the fingerboard. So, here is the neck in its present state. I just polyurethaned it again, waiting for it to dry.


      I'll keep you posted!

      AL in Asheville

    • Always a challenge, isn't it! I chronicled my journey through the hurdles and challenges of building my violin on my blog page. It may prove enlightening to those constructing a cigar box violin the first time. I just sold my creation online for some good cash, so I guess it was worth it, and definitly a learning experience. I'll know exactly what I need to do for the next one. At the end of the day, the important thing will be: will the neck angle and fingerboard height be the correct height and angle for the bridge? The strings must be at the correct height off the fingerboard to be playable up the neck, which is why I suggested working this all out in a full-scale drawing of the box, neck, fingerboard and bridge in profile, using the string distance between an outside string and the ends of the fingerboard from a standard violin, to be sure you establish the correct angle to set the neck. The bridge height is non-negotiable; the neck angle must serve it correctly. Hope it all works out for you. Keep us posted as you go, and good luck!

  • Hey Gang, 

    So now, the issue is the neck and how to get the fingerboard rounded. Can I just sand the edges of the fingerboard to round it off some?


    AL in Asheville

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