How did I end up here? ;-)

I'm from Montreal city and I'm probably the only builder who cannot even play an instrument. No musical training or special talent, never even played guitar. In fact I'm a technology expert & an industrial machinery operator. Woodworking did become a hobby about 12 years ago. But the Ciby guitty thing came to me as a personal challenge after a few Del Pucket videos on youtube...

Didn't  even know if I could make it but my first build was a success. Youtube tutorials do work! Now you think: "How do you know a cigar box guitar works if you can't play it?" My second build ended up in the hands of a blind music teacher and he could easily play it. I also have friends with this talent.

5 builds so far and I'm going for my first Ukulele! I'll take any advice for this, and maybe tricks for learning to play.   :-))

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  • Simon, don't feel bad, I built my first one in 2012 and still can't do much more than make noises that make me grin. I have several friends who are good musicians that have my instruments so I know that they can sound beautiful in skilled hands. I've built 26 assorted instruments so far and it's still fun. One of these days I will take the time to learn to play better, but until then I'll just keep on making noises that please my ears.

  • Simon,

    Just kick back an enjoy the notes. I am a Native American style Flute and Agave Didgreedoo builder. I mainly choose these instruments not only to build but to play, Why? because there is no theory to these creations just feeling and I look at the CBG exactly the same way but with a little umph. I would highly recommend the Blues Scale and the Open G poster. My only real plan and advise, learn the scales and never look back, let the music come!



    • Thanks for the advice

  • Glad to have you here!   But you're not the only one...  I can't play either!   Well, I have learned the first two chords to "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing" to play on the uke.

    I'd made one guitar (fretless and nothing fancy),then ran across a beautiful little box.  My second, a uke.  I'm working on two new ones now.  Plan on taking some lessons soon.  I did take my uke to a local meeting of the Santa Fe ukulele fan club, and I'm pretty sure it surprised them with it's playability.

    Like you, I'm a technologist, but I've been doing wood working for fun for years.  This new obsession/hobby though is breathing new life into my life long hobby.   

    As a hint, I'd look at a fair sized box (9x11x2) and go for a tenor scale (around 17"/438.1) scale length.  I used Woodgears ukulele plan to sort of figure out my box dimensions and layout, then made some design changes.  One thing that I really had to work around was the scale length since I wanted to save most of the box art.  That necessitated changing the scale to 17 1/2" (444.5mm) and then a design for the sound holes that wouldn't impact the art.  Cutting the sound holes was not hard in this box as the lid is composite of what I can best guess of thin wood laminating a paper core: I drilled a few holes in side the outlines for the holes and cut the things out with an Xacto knife.

    Oh, and good strings like the Nylagut from Aquilla and a good bridge apparently make a big difference.  When using nylon strings, they make take a week or two to settle in to tune.  So don't panic!

    I find the sound from this rig to be bright and cheery and loud enough without any amplification. I'm going to try and stay away from the amplification because the boxes are so small that the Gitty pre-amp really won't fit well.  And I want to make something that can play just about anywhere.

    Next projects:  a pair of soprano ukes from small hellcat boxes and then I've got 2 HUGE boxes for attempting baritone ukes.  Bonus, I am doing a lot of this at the local makerspace, so have access to some cool tools (laser cutter for sound holes!!! awsome)

    Enjoy your new obsession!

    jcv (still working on better fret board building)


    • Glad to know I'm not the only one, I felt a little like an imposter. Agree it really is an obsession but in a good way. I'll be starting my first Uke at the end of the month...

      If you want to try an electric CBG I recommend a simple: 1 piezo, 1 potentiometer (volume), 1 jack (6mm). This way it will work with any guitar amp (external). This setup was mostly used by 80's/90's rock bands.

      To add extra sound to a small box, a tensioned door spring screwed to the neck (near the sound hole) will give you more vibrations. Del Pucket has this explained in a video, he calls it a "pipeline"

      Thanks for sharing tips & tricks

      Video >>

  • Salut Simon!

    Strangely, playing the uke is one of the simplest things to do. Chord patterns are dead easy.

    I learned to play the uke by downloading cheat sheets from here

    The only hard thing with the uke is that the neck is really narrow. So if you have big fingers it quickly gets cramped.

    • Thanks for the link

  • Welcome Simon. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that you're the only builder who doesn't play. There are a lot of them out there. Some people get more joy from building than playing, and others vice-versa. Personally, I really enjoy both.

    Similar to how you learned to build, you can learn to play from YouTube. Shane Speal and a number of others have some simple introductory videos. I don't know if you'v seen his 4 part series on how to play diddley bow, but its really easy to follow. Once you figure out the bow, a 3 string slider isn't my different. I've linked the videos below.

    • Many thanks, I don't feel lonely anymore.

      I'll look into these videos for sure

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