The truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of ukuleles. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always appreciated the sound, but I never gravitated towards this particular instrument. Needless to say, ukuleles are popular with CBG builders because they’re inexpensive and relatively easy to build/modify. After assembling a handful of homemade string instruments, I decided to try building a cigar box ukulele just for fun. I ordered the soprano kit from CB Gitty and embarked on another project. Before I go any farther, I should mention this is not a builder’s diary; it’s a series of coincidences I felt I needed to share.

I received a package from CB Gitty one warm Texas afternoon and went out to the garage to start on my first cigar box ukulele. I sorted through a pile of empty cigar boxes and settled on a white HR box that I thought had a cool aesthetic. About this time, my wife came into the garage. She said she had just gotten off the phone with her friend Sara who happened to be in the market for a ukulele. I immediately perked up and responded, “Tell her she can have this one when I finish it.” I wasn’t confident in my ability to build a ukulele, but I thought the timing was an interesting coincidence. I always liked the idea of building an instrument for someone and I knew Sara would appreciate it even if it wasn’t perfect.

Here’s a little more information about Sara. She is an interior designer who has played guitar since high school. She’s a crafty type who sometimes creates her own art for the spaces she decorates. In other words, she’s an artistic lady and she's also one of my wife’s best friends. In addition, she's a really great person.

Back to the build, I was amazed at how well my first uke went together. The kit didn’t come with instructions, but it was pretty easy to figure out since I’d already built several CBGs. I decided to paint the headstock white to match the box, something I’d never done before. I had some white spray paint on hand and it just happened to match the box perfectly. I also stained the back of the neck to match the color the wood on the underside of the cigar box. Again I just happened to have the right color of stain on hand. As the project neared completion, it looked great, but I felt like it needed something extra to decorate the headstock. After searching through my parts box and failing to find the right item, I took a trip to a local craft store. I found a small metal oval emblazoned with a 13. “This is perfect,” I thought and so it became the headstock decoration on my first cigar box uke.

Once the glue was dry, I strung up my first homemade ukulele and was surprised by how well it played. I even made a video and posted it on Cigar Box Nation. I liked the instrument so much, I actually thought about keeping it for myself. However, I think that’s a bad omen. You should never promise an instrument to someone and then keep it. This one had to go to Sara. It was made for her. Besides, I could always build another just like it… or could I?

As you can probably guess, I ordered another ukulele kit from CB Gitty and it showed up just a few days later. I settled on a natural colored Casa Turrent box for my second soprano build. I made a few small design changes, but by-and-large stuck to the same idea. Again, I used stain, varnish, screws, and other things I had on hand to complete the project. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t come out as good as the first build, but I was still going to give it a try.

When I finished uke #2, I was pleased with the aesthetic, but I decided it too was missing a headstock decoration. I went through my box of parts and found an old railroad nail. I was from… wait for it… 1913. Another number 13? What are the chances of that? I know 13 is commonly referred to as an unlucky number, but I was born on the 13th so it’s always been lucky for me. One thing was obvious, 13 is the right number for these two coincidental cigar box instruments.

Finally, I strung up uke #2 and the first chord rang out. Up until this moment, I was afraid it would never sound or play as good as uke #1. Some part of me was worried I may have given away the best ukulele I’d ever build. To my surprise, the second one plays just as good as the first. It’s a bit quieter, but it has a warm woody tone. In fact, I played one, then the other, and I really can’t decide which one I like better; they’re both great in different ways. One is a little bit modern, while the other is more rustic, but let’s face it… they both look pretty darn cool.

As I stood back and admired my handiwork, I thought about all the coincidences that had to happen for me to create 2 cigar box ukuleles in two weekends, especially since I didn't have any experience, or even any interest, in building ukuleles. My grandma used to say there are no coincidences in life, they’re all just messages from the universe, and how you interpret those messages is up to you. She was a wise woman. I miss her a lot. I guess that brings me to the moral of this story. If you build something for somebody else, make sure it gets to them. Never keep it for yourself. As the old adage goes, you'll get what you give. It rang true in this case.

P.S. Sara sent me a photo of her playing the ukulele and singing. I can't remember the last time a photo made me this happy. This is why we build.

Views: 303

Comment

You need to be a member of Cigar Box Nation to add comments!

Join Cigar Box Nation

Comment by fuzzbox100 on August 31, 2019 at 2:37am

What a nice post - the two ‘13’s look great!

Comment by Uncle John on June 30, 2019 at 9:46am

A second read after seeing/hearing the brown uke played.  The part about Sarah caused minor ey leakage.  Dampness for sure.  

Comment by Uncle John on June 25, 2019 at 2:22pm

Good story!

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

Forum

Volume/Tone Pots

Started by Brent Kasl in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Poorness Studios 3 hours ago. 3 Replies

CONTEST CANCELLED: We Need Your Photos!

Started by Shane Speal shanespeal.com in Feature Articles. Last reply by Alex Fong 16 hours ago. 2 Replies

Mods to CBG kit

Started by James Pobog in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by James Pobog yesterday. 4 Replies

s/s lm386 draw amp,

Started by GARAGE HERMIT in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig on Wednesday. 8 Replies

Back Angle

Started by Brent Kasl in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig on Monday. 4 Replies

Blog Posts

Mag pickup help

Posted by Fantacone Box Works on December 1, 2019 at 7:26pm 5 Comments

Tupelo Tenor kit

Posted by Craig W.Solomon on November 21, 2019 at 6:51pm 4 Comments

Hello from new member

Posted by Morgan L. Scoggins on November 16, 2019 at 9:52am 8 Comments

Latest Activity

BrianQ. left a comment for Heath Curtis
"Welcome to the nation, the Resources tab is highly recommended as is joining some groups located in…"
7 minutes ago
Dean Walker posted a status
"Thanks for the welcome BrianQ. I'm in the process of building 2 3 string CBGs. My 1st attempt at this."
16 minutes ago
BrianQ. left a comment for George Barauskas
"Welcome to the nation, the Resources tab is highly recommended as is joining some groups located in…"
22 minutes ago
BrianQ. left a comment for Dean Walker
"Welcome to the nation,the Resources tab is highly recommended as is joining some groups located in…"
25 minutes ago
Diglydog commented on Poorness Studios's video
Thumbnail

Cheap Bass vs Expensive Bass vs Homemade Bass

"Well, like a lot of musical comparisons, they all sound a bit different.  I'm not sure if…"
40 minutes ago
BrianQ. commented on BrianQ.'s photo
Thumbnail

TinJo-Toothpick Frets shaped

"Thanx fellers :) Got those clamps at the Dollartree- 4 x $1, can’t beat that? "
51 minutes ago
BrianQ. commented on BrianQ.'s photo
Thumbnail

Heck Yeah!!!

"Yes, I do, reminds me of the old ‘zines from back in the day, pure tone , right out of the…"
58 minutes ago
MadGomer replied to James Pobog's discussion I'm gonna need help... in the group Building a Cigar Box Guitar 101
"I think you're on the right track, and I strongly recommend you do #4 in your list unless you…"
1 hour ago
Jim Morris commented on Andries D. EKER's video
1 hour ago
Peter Faris commented on Bill Turner (Wunkyman)'s photo
Thumbnail

Skullduggery

"Beautiful, the antique look is very appealing."
1 hour ago
Rob Uker commented on Jerry Jordan's photo
Thumbnail

Loog not

"Its very Silvertone-ish I would definitely spend a buck on this. Which dollar store did you get it…"
1 hour ago
Rob Uker liked Jerry Jordan's photo
1 hour ago

Music

Loading…

© 2019   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 -->