The Fascinating World of Ed Stilley’s Guitars

In the pantheon of great guitar makers, Ed Stilley’s work stands alone like a castaway on its own musical island. Imperfect, bizarre and some even un-tunable to the modern equal temperament scale, his crudely made stringed instruments would make the most adventurous guitar collector shudder. Continue reading “The Fascinating World of Ed Stilley’s Guitars”

Make a 2×4 Lap Steel Guitar [EASY project]

This is one of the easiest homemade guitars I’ve ever built, and it took me only an hour to make.

This lap steel was made from an extra 2×4 I had in my shed, with just a few saw cuts to the wood. I even used a pre-wired acoustic sound hole pickup, so there was no wiring needed. Anybody can build this lap steel guitar! Continue reading “Make a 2×4 Lap Steel Guitar [EASY project]”

Build-Your-Own Tremolo…for Scaredy Cats!

Hi, just saw Shane Speal’s feature article on the 1957 tube driven tremolo plans. Pretty cool! But frankly, high voltage stuff scares the bejeezus out of me… that and my brain can only handle super simple electronics circuits. Other wise it becomes a fog of confusion.

More my speed is a simple little stomp box circuit I found on diystompboxes.com called “The Tiny Trem”: Continue reading “Build-Your-Own Tremolo…for Scaredy Cats!”

Cool Cigar Box Amplifier Mods!

by Shane Speal

I’m an electronics idiot. There, I said it! I suck when it comes to soldering and breadboards and all that crap. I couldn’t wire my way out of a paper bag, if the truth be told.

…But then C. B. Gitty came out with a pre-wired cigar box amp kit and I just had to dive in and try one out. And then another and another.

The Gitty amp kit a simple 2.5 watt amp that delivers living room volume in a tiny package. Most of their pictures show a standard cigar box with a hole cut in the middle and a speaker with some sort of grill or cover.

I figured if I was going to build cigar box amps, I might as well use as much found-object stuff on them to make them look otherworldly, just like some of my best cigar box guitars. Here’s three examples that used the standard Gitty kit and the parts I used to mod them: Continue reading “Cool Cigar Box Amplifier Mods!”

How to Build an Electric Guitar – Historic 1959 Plans (Free Download)

JUST ADDED TO THE ARCHIVES:

The Strat and Les Paul were only several years old when Mechanix Illustrated magazine published these plans, penned by Captain America creator and artist, C. C. Beck in their September 1959 issue.

Like many how-to articles from this era, the article is somewhat vague in carving and building techniques and instead puts most of its weight into the diagrams with measurements.

Continue reading “How to Build an Electric Guitar – Historic 1959 Plans (Free Download)”

Build a “Throbbing” Tube-Driven Vibrato – Vintage plans from 1957

From the archives,

Build Your Own Vibrato

Make like Elvis with an “electronic” throbbing guitar

These vibrato (actually tremolo) plans were first printed in the Popular Electronics December 1957 issue. We’ve taken all text and re-typed it and provided good resolution scans of all schematics.  Everything is compiled in one PDF document below.  Download and print out.
Continue reading “Build a “Throbbing” Tube-Driven Vibrato – Vintage plans from 1957″

Build a One-Tube Cigar Box Amplifier (Vintage Plans from 1954)

We love vintage plans, especially ones from the Eisenhower Era.  Here’s another one to drool over and explore: a One-Tube cigar box amp!  The plans were first published in Science and Mechanics, Feb. 1954.  We’ve taken a scan of them, cleaned them up and put it all together in one downloadable .pdf file below.

Continue reading “Build a One-Tube Cigar Box Amplifier (Vintage Plans from 1954)”

How to Transform a Gold Foil Pickup into a Vintage Top Mounted Pickup

The C. B. Gitty Gold Foil acoustic pickup is one of the most versatile and easiest magnetic pickups to mod for cigar box guitars. At only $14 each, they’re deliciously cheap and I always have a half dozen of them in my woodshop at any time. (It should be noted that these suckers have such a gloriously trashy 1960’s vibe to them, just like Hound Dog Taylor’s guitars.)

I recently used a Gold Foil in a cigar box guitar and I radically modded it to look like a rusty old Harmony/Teisco top-mount pickup. Here’s how I did it. Continue reading “How to Transform a Gold Foil Pickup into a Vintage Top Mounted Pickup”

Henry Wood’s Cigar Box Violin – 1940’s Historical Account

From A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows – by Henry Wood as told to Michael Fedo:

Near the end of the book, Henry Wood talks about performing in the famous WLS Barn Dance in Wisconsin back in the 1940’s. As master at the musical saw, Wood went on to describe the act he created for the Barn Dance:

“Sometimes Mr. Statz would tell the audience that I’d taken over everything in the barn — cowbells, pitchforks, tin cans, milk pails, saws and chains to make music with, and there were no tools left for work. He said he fixed me. He’d lock them all up.

Well, I’d go into the audience and see if anybody had a cigar box. We’d have a plant there ho did, and I’d borrow the box and cut a hole in the top. I’d get a broom handle and attach it, then string a wire across the whole. I’d snatch a violin bow from one of the fellows int he band, and I’d play that one-string fiddle while Mr. Statz would try to make his announcements.

It always brought down the house, or more accurately, the tent or barn. When he’d grab my fiddle and break it, the band would start in and I’d still have the stage, doing a comic jig or buck-and-wing dance. ”