I'll start off by saying that this may not be everyone's "cup of tea" and that some people might consider this "overthinking". To that I will simply say that one person's overthinking is another person's "understanding". 

Let's start with something we can (probably) all mostly agree with: Different boxes (CBs or built boxes) have different sound qualities based upon: the type of wood, the thickness of the wood, joint construction, size, proportion (including depth), etc. (feel free to add more considerations).

For building our own boxes, we have control over every one of those aspects. Wouldn't it be cool to test the individual wood components going into our boxes and then the assembled boxes to see how each choice changes the resonance? If your answer is "no" then move along. If you answer is "maybe", then read on.

This is not a tutorial. It is a set of links us to consider and discuss in this thread. I'm going to cross-post this on the Resonator Boxes Group, but I would like to see the discussion take place there.

This began for me with an investigation into how the various components affect the acoustic properties of a guitar (and then how these might apply to CBGs). Invariably,  the question of solid wood vs plywood will come up (or "laminates"). For example, let's say I have a cigar box that has a 1/4" thick solid wood lid and a 1/8" plywood bottom. What sound qualities will I get using one for the soundboard over the other? Another (related) question is: Where do I place the bridge for the maximum resonance for this particular box/soundboard?

Exercising my Google-Fu, I found this interesting article on tonewoods and

The Heretics Guide to Alternative Lutherie Woods, by John Calkin

It was in the aforementioned "where do I place the bridge" thread that someone mentioned  "The Art of Tap Tuning: How to Build Great Sound into Instruments" by Roger Simonoff. The "Tap Tuning FAQ" is here: http://siminoff.net/tap-tuning-faq/

For a video introduction to what is possible on the subject, I suggest Mr. Simonoff's "Intro" video on YouTube:

It was the comment below that video that got me next. The commenter suggested that Simonoff's approach was too complicated and linked to this PDF entitled: "What you can find out by hitting things, by Don Noon, a retired NASA engineer." (Don Noon's bio here.) 


The beauty of THIS approach is that all you need is the freeware audio editor program Audacity and a computer/laptop and a microphone. (I wonder if one could test piezos or other pickups in a similar fashion).

I think that someone who builds a ton of CBGs (and pays attention) comes to understand a lot of this just through experimentation. But I think that this testing method might help someone "get there" a lot sooner by narrowing down what works (better) than other approaches - for the particular sound that they are going for. In particular, figuring out what pattern on the graph (or maybe the total length of the graph, or the amplitude of certain points on the graph) correspond to the low end, high end and midrange, etc.

I might equate this to the different ways that homebrewers make beer. I knew one guy who loved to make up his own "recipes" (by varying ratios of different grains, and throwing in this or that and experiementing with different hops, etc.) But he never wrote anything down. So if he got something particularly good, his chances of replicating it (ever again) were somewhat reduced. This is sort of the point of recipes. Keeping track of what materials we use, in what proportions, and what thicknesses, etc. seems to me to be similar. Being able to graph the sound qualities of different designs seems to me to be something that might be helpful in replicating, or fine tuning the direction of our successful builds (or experiments)

Does this interest anyone besides me?

Views: 705

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for the post. It interests me a great deal. Whether I will do anything with it is another matter...

Yes it interests me. I have some nice boxes a bit thick though and I've wondered how I might be able to test what sound I might get from the box. How do I test ? Thanks for the link I shall investigate, I have used Audacity to produce ringtones glad to see it might help out here.

Check the comments on this cross-posted thread in the Resonator Boxes group.

One of my comments links to this page, where guitar tops are specifically tested. (If you are like me you will skip the theory and formulas and go straight to "The Equipment" and "The Method" sections.) :)

Thank you Darren. That was rewarding and I'm sure if I get around to acoustic body building, I'll look up your book.

   Wait a minute-i've got Audacity, a microphone and a rubber hammer right here!

  I normally  test pre-built boxes and tins just by tapping out the hollowist 'Tok!' and the mellowist 'Bong!' with my fingers for optimum bridge placement... but until now i've been at the mercy of random chance with my Tennis Racket Dulcimers, never knowing what i'm getting until the glue has dried in the frame. I could see the Tap Test working with the 1/8' Birch Ply and the 1/8' Cedar plank I normally face and back with...but do you think the Tap test would be worth trying on the rather flexible 1/16' birch I use for the sides, or would it be useless until i've glued the frame in place?

Here's a consideration..

I thought this was a bit dumb but started doing it anyway "just because"

When I've built my through neck design I hold the neck by the sides at various places along its length and tap the bottom of it. There are two sweet spots that make a pleasing ring from the wood. I try to get my bridge and my 4th or 5th fret to sit as close to these spots as possible (although it's not always practical). It probably makes no sense whatsoever as the saddle will be siting on the soundboard.. But I still do it anyway.

Incidentally, there is no ring from the middle of the neck. The place where I thought the best ring would come from.

The middle of the neck is between nodes, Fom. And the waves travel through it longitudinally, up and down the neck, rather like a tube wave.


The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Discussion Forum

Soundhole sizing and design

Started by Habanera Hal. Last reply by Rich Butters Nov 7, 2019. 24 Replies

Adjustable CBG bridge

Started by Jeff Box. Last reply by Thomas Case Sep 4, 2019. 3 Replies

Adjustable sound holes

Started by Jeff Box. Last reply by Jeff Box Sep 10, 2017. 5 Replies

Just intonation/scale

Started by Fomhorach. Last reply by Mike Jun 17, 2017. 4 Replies

Classical ball end strings

Started by John Hopper. Last reply by Moritz Voegeli Feb 24, 2017. 1 Reply

Truss rods

Started by Fomhorach. Last reply by Fomhorach Jun 16, 2016. 7 Replies

Measuring wood ( and/or box) resonances - cheaply

Started by Darren Addy. Last reply by Ron "Oily" Sprague Jun 14, 2016. 7 Replies

An idea that I haven't seen - any thoughts?

Started by Habanera Hal. Last reply by Fomhorach May 5, 2016. 12 Replies

A brand new resonator

Started by Mario Poggio. Last reply by Philip Hale May 5, 2016. 9 Replies

Signing your work

Started by Chuck Dubman. Last reply by G.S. Monroe Dec 21, 2015. 17 Replies

Braces and bars.

Started by Brian Lemin. Last reply by Monterey Mar 20, 2015. 8 Replies

Nonadjustable truss rod

Started by Scott W. Last reply by Scott W Jul 17, 2014. 9 Replies

Builders tricks

Started by Lee Martin. Last reply by Wichita Sam Apr 3, 2014. 4 Replies

Making a brass tailpiece

Started by Tim Mac. Last reply by Better Trees Jan 16, 2014. 3 Replies

Resonator cone and coverplate

Started by Keith Weser. Last reply by Mario Poggio Nov 30, 2013. 9 Replies

Neck dovetail

Started by Jillian Holladay. Last reply by Jillian Holladay Jul 23, 2013. 12 Replies

Neck Angle

Started by Wayne Bigler. Last reply by Wayne Bigler Jul 12, 2013. 5 Replies

"Testing" a box for bridge placement

Started by Roadkill a.k.a. John Maw. Last reply by Mark Bliss Jul 11, 2013. 163 Replies

Bridge attachment comparison.

Started by MichaelS Country Boy Guitars. Last reply by StarrCBGs(Donovan) Jul 10, 2013. 19 Replies

fret board material

Started by Sam Fontenot. Last reply by StarrCBGs(Donovan) Jul 10, 2013. 17 Replies

Blog Posts

Mr. Bells

Posted by Stephen Cohen on September 4, 2021 at 12:30pm 0 Comments

Bookie's Poor Man's Dobro

Posted by Steve Bookout on July 18, 2021 at 2:04pm 3 Comments

Get your groove on for free

Posted by François on July 13, 2021 at 3:05pm 1 Comment

Soon to be free to play more

Posted by Danny Gordon on June 14, 2021 at 1:06pm 4 Comments

Latest Activity

Dave Nyberg liked Cigar Box Nation's video
11 minutes ago
BrianQ. liked GARAGE HERMIT's photo
17 minutes ago
the anonymous pick commented on Korrigan's video

Justine, the tenor guitar, GDAD

55 minutes ago
the anonymous pick commented on AGP #'s photo

AGP #441 - ''Stuffup Steamer Basket''

"If you play punk rock on it  ... is it steampunk? XD"
58 minutes ago
the anonymous pick commented on GARAGE HERMIT's photo


"Hella cool !"
1 hour ago
Poorness Studios posted a video

Tin Kazoo Shootout: US vs UK

For the final episode of Kazoo Fridays, I compare two classic tin kazoos, one from the UK and the other from the US. Both have been manufactured the same way...
1 hour ago
RTZGUITARS replied to Uncle John's discussion Dave Lynas needs prayer and good thoughts and wishes
"Dave you are CBN's Folk Art Wizard. Your Art inspire me that not easy to do. Thank you for…"
1 hour ago
Cigar Box Nation posted a video

G Major Magic - Easy Way to Make "Chill Out" Music on Cigar Box Guitar

I'm always looking at new ways to fall in love with the cigar box guitar. This simple G Major rundown delivers some awesome sound ideas. Support this chann...
1 hour ago
Maddog commented on Maddog's photo
2 hours ago
Maddog commented on Maddog's photo

Amp #149 Cremo CBA

"Thank you Doug and Steve!"
2 hours ago
Maddog replied to Uncle John's discussion Dave Lynas needs prayer and good thoughts and wishes
"Thanks for the update John. God Bless Dave and God Bless his Family. "
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Gary O'slide's video
3 hours ago


© 2021   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/963882636?profile=original") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->