I am looking for information on building diddley bows. I have build one 3 string CBG and working on two more currently. I want to build some diddley bows with my daughter's brownie troop and have some questions.

I am planning in using cigar boxes for the bodies and doing accoustic as I do not have the money to do electric I think. I will revisit that when pricing it all out and see though if I can swing the cost to power them. I plan on giving each girl a little bag with a pick and a piece of 1/2 inch copper pipe for a slide. I already got some pipe for my daughter to use with her 3 stringer and 1/2 inch fit her well as she is just 7.

For the neck if going with either a hardwood dowel or flat piece of hardwood what are the dimensions that are recommended? Not the length, just wondering on the thickness? I am unsure if going round or flat just yet as it will depend on cost as it all will come out of my pocket.

My other question pertains to strings. I have read about using music wire as well as guitar strings. What is the recommendation to use as well as what gauge if music wire or what strings if guitar strings as well as type to get.

Thank you in advance!

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Hi Mike,

I made one last week for my kids on a piece of mahogany (had it lying around, not necessary). I used a 185g tuna tin, upside down with a small wedge of wood on top in the middle to act as the "bridge". It's not fixed there, it is just pinned by string pressure. It effectively gives you a resonator effect... kind of like a dobro. to hold it all in place, I routed out the wood to make a channel for the tin. You don't need to do this. nails/screws placed nicely will give it something to lean on instead. I drilled a hole in the bottom (10mm) to "let the sound out".

The result: Wow, this thing is loud! I jammed an old humbucker on there so I can amp it, but it's really good acoustically. I was amazed at how much clear volume I got out of it.

A really cheap, and easy build that works well.

See my attached photo

Hi Mike
I've been doing workshops with kids for a while now. Cigar boxes are the way to go, I find. For the necks I use 24mm dia broom handles source pretty cheaply from eBay (I get them in 10s or 20s which keeps the cost down). Similarly with strings...I get them in bulk as an OEM item (that means they come straight rather than coiled). If you are UK based then I'll be happy to suggest sources if that helps. You will have a great time. Good luck.
Thanks. I looked on eBay and don't see any handles in bulk but I am in the us. Maybe there are none for over here. If you know of a seller here that would be great. Thanks again!
Hi Mike
Check out www.alibaba.com and search for 'wooden broom handles' ...really cheap!
Thanks for the replies. I am definitely going to go with a cigar box style rather than 2x4. I think the kids and parents (when the kids bring them home) will be much happier. For the strings, I think I am going to lean towards the guitar strings rather than some other sort of wire. After watching that video it looks a little hard to out them on and I also don't want to risk somebody getting hurt. For strings, do you use only heavier strings or does that not matter?



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