thanks guys .do tins and cans give a sort of resornator sound? and would you cut sound holes in a tin or would that take the strenth out of the stucture ?

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Comment by Mark on November 16, 2010 at 7:25am
I use lip and spur drill bits for cutting holes in tins. They're the ones with a sort of 'spiky' bit sticking out forwards of the main cutting edges - they're designed for drilling in wood and generally described as wood drills, but they're useful for certain other things too. I favour a sort of compound sound hole - which gives some of the effect of a larger sound hole by clustering smaller holes together in a neat pattern.

Tins can definitely give good sounds. Some sound banjo-like but others can definitely have "resonator" tones. Tins can also be strong but they have different properties to wooden boxes - for example, a box that is reasonably rigid when it has its lid on can flex and bow when the lid is removed (as Rand observed). So you probably need to make sure the lid stays on.

An important aspect to bear in mind when working with tins is to make sure you don't leave any exposed sharp edges around where you cut the metal.
Comment by Rand Moore on November 14, 2010 at 8:12pm
Hi Dan.

You should check out the Cigar Box Nation group called "Can Jo Consortium". They have several sub-categories including cookie tins guitars and the like. Simple can-jos have one big sound hole, but it is structurally sound. There is no reason you couldn't add a sound hole, but it seems most builders do not bother. You are right about the structural fragility of cans, tins and the like. For instance, on one of my builds I used a cookie tin and took off the bottom after having strung it up and tuned it, and the loss of the strength afforded by the top (or now the bottom) cause the cookie tin to bend inward from the string tension. If you do sound hols, keep them small. I'd check out the photos of these instruments.

As for cutting holes in tin cans, cookie tins, or whatever: I used a nail and a hammer. You'll need to put something (a block of wood or stout sick) behind the side of the can (tin) as you pound in the holes, but you can fairly easily and accurately pound in a series of holes and then cut them with wire cutters or something similar. This is how I was cutting my cookie tins so I could connect the neck to the can. If you are unsure of how to do this, do a search on Cigar Box Nation. I'm pretty sure it will turn up some useful information. I understand many people use Dremel tools to cut holes in their cans, so if you have one you can try that.

Tin cans, cookie tins, oil cans all can make great resonators if you like the tinny sound - they sound more like banjos than guitars. Aluminum seems to resonate better than steel, I guess because the material is a lot lighter. But, then it is structurally weaker, so need to be more careful when you build with it.

Good luck with your build.


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