For the greater good of the greater number

I should share this, because much of it was shared with me- and it has helped me enormously. I've been building these things for less than a year, and I now find that each new instrument I finish plays like a real guitar. For the love of Gitty, some of them may even be saleable... Anyway, here goes.

I was initially shy of showing my builds to my friend S. Not only is she a skilled carpenter and fully qualified boatbuilder, she does not suffer fools gladly either. But she was really taken with RtB#3 (24"scale, fretless, acoustic, Partagas No.6 box), and offered the following tips over the ensuing weeks:-

* Consider your box. Is the top thicker than the base? Maybe you should turn it over...

* (This may not apply to US builders with inexhaustible supplies of poplar necks, but...) Why are you trying to make a hardwood neck fit a softwood box? Why not actually build your own boxes to fit the hardwood neck options that you have?

* Trust your woodworking skills, and work on them. Example- I asked her to build a mitre box to make the accurate, parallel, cutting of fret slots easier. No, she said. Make a good, accurate score with a Stanley knife (do you have those in the US? Ubiquitous craft knife), then ease your fret slotting saw into the score and saw away. You will become better with practice, she said. Do you know what? I think I have.

* Keep it simple. Personally, I'm not convinced by this one, because there are some real beauties out there in the CBN- but then I wonder, do they all play like RtB#13 does. Oh Lordy...

 * Here's one I worked out for myself. I had intonation issues- until I realised that cutting an accurate slot for a zero-th fret was INFINITELY easier than planting a nut dead square. Let the all-G 'chord' sing out, brother!

In summary- I guess that 95% of the above is already known to 95% of you. If, however, just one little piece of advice above helps someone to build a better CBG, the I have Passed It On. No more need be said.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

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

Join Cigar Box Nation


  • Yup.  True and valuable.

  • She makes a good point about a fret miter box. I don't score with a blade, i use a pencil. I have found that if the fingerboard is clamped down securely, and the lines are where they should be, using my stew-mac fret saw I lay the saw teeth on the pencil line and gently pull the saw towards me. The saw leaves a shallow slot where the pencil line was. Deepen the slot and you have a home for your fret. I used to make it way harder than it needs to be.,.,just like buttering bread.,., 

  • Amen! Testify Brother Wal.   : )

    Good advice, thanks for sharing. That's why I love CBN.

This reply was deleted.