A couple of months ago I started a journey to find a simple instrument to play to accompany the campfire band that plays at my Civil War reenacting group. I played numerous brass instruments 30 years ago in high school, but wanted something different.  I needed something simple and easy to learn.  I discovered the diddley bow and soon found this website.  A new adventure began since I had never even touched a stringed instrument in the past.

I built my first CBG out of an antique biscuit tin and love it, but the sound isn't all that great.  Most of the acoustic CBGs that I have actually seen or that I've heard in videos have a rather muted sound.  My little diddley will never be heard around the campfire.  I scoured this website looking for advice on improving the volume.  Because I was going to play the thing around a campfire in the dark at night, I wanted to avoid an amp.

Quite by accident my search for acoustic sound began. I built a travel diddley that will fold to fit into my suitcase.  It was made out of a collapsible metal cane with a hip flask resonator.  The sound is crisp and is loud considering the size.  It was accidentally laid on top of a larger flask and the sound created made me begin on a search for the best sound.  I now tap test everything I come across at the thrift stores.  

My third build was just completed and features a double resonator.  It has a small hip flask attached to a large hip flask hidden inside the box.  It is my first 3 stringer that is fun to play but it is rather bulky, heavy and clunky.  The best part of it is the volume is great (too great, my wife asks me to keep the noise down regularly).

I like the hip flask resonator concept and found a huge 128 oz flask for my next build.  Number 4 is being designed around sound.  The nature of the neck is my new focus.  How much does the neck material affect the sound?  The neck on number two is metal and the tone is crisp. I'm experimenting with a copper pipe neck after being inspired by the tone-a-cane copper guitars.  I haven't heard one played acoustically though so I'm building my own experiment.  The fretboard is the challenge.  My 1 string portable diddley uses key rings for frets and they work surprisingly well, but a three stringer involves the challenge of a wider fretboard.  Should the frets be on wood or can I attach them directly to the copper?  The experimenting continues.

My biggest hurdle is that I am a great thinker/planner/designer, but my ability to focus and carry through to the construction phase is questionable - ha.

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Replies to This Discussion

Neck and body have a lot to do with the tone for acoustic and electric. Some think that the pickups are all that matters in a electric guitar, but pickups will magnify the vibrations that pass through the body and neck through microphonics. Microphonics are inherent to the design of the pickup coil, so no matter how much wax potting or epoxy sealing is used on the pickup coil, microphonics will still persist to some degree.

There have been several guitars made by members here using copper pipe and cast iron pipe for the entire guitar(neck and body). I made one out of PVC pipe. Every part of the guitar has a part in the overall sound of the guitar.

Have fun and continue to build out of whatever comes to mind. ;) Your flask reso sounded great.

In the case of looking for acoustic sound, lets look at the basics, a hollow sound body emulates sound treu vibrations from a string and the ridgednes of the hole (Neck & Body) a metal rezonator in a wooden box emulates more sound because of outward projection stiffnes & smoothess of the material ( metalic cone), so in case of the neck & frets stifnes is a qualety (Hardwood / Metal)  but metal on metal  produses sounds that maybee are not on the wischlist ! Dobro Rezzonaters are usaly made of metal & hard wood, but the qualety of the reflecting cone construction gives it more volume,  so to conclude  densety ,stiffness (ridgednes) and large projecting cone are a must for high grade acoustics whitout electrification,  But still you can allways use a amp; on batteries (20watts) take you a long way are small & i use them many a time in campfire settings in my time as a teatcher in creatif summer camps, the exspiriment is allways the best trile & error to test what satisfieds your ears !! good luck on the surch for acoustic volume! kind greeetss A.D.

Tin in a Tin verry loud Diddleybow BCB Build 2017-2018 Mahogany neck fretless (for better string bending effect)

The project didn’t turn out as planned.  The copper pipes created a huge problem.  I tried copper wire frets with epoxy on the back to keep them from ripping my hands while playing.  I had to rework the neck several times and it got pretty beaten up in the process.  I changed my plan and used it for a camping diddley that will probably get beaten around bouncing in the Jeep on weekends.  It sounds much better than it looks.


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