Daily Tip: Understanding Scale Length on Cigar Box Guitars

Tip_3Remember that the “scale length” of a cigar box guitar or other stringed instrument refers to the vibrating length of the strings. It is measured from the point where the strings leave the nut to the point where they first touch the saddle/bridge.

Need help calculating your scale length? Try our free fret spacing calculator tool!

Daily Tip: Mounting Sealed-Gear Tuners

Sealed Gear Tuner MountingWhen mounting sealed-gear tuners in cigar box guitars or other handmade instruments, be sure to keep the gear towards the instrument body, not the top of the headstock. The gear is inside the rounded portion of the sealed tuner base.

For great prices on sealed-gear tuners and other cigar box guitar parts, you can’t do better than C. B. Gitty.

Trademarks, Cigar Box Guitars and the Law

Supreme_Court_of_the_United_StatesIn this new knowledgebase post, Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker recounts what he has learned about using trademarked, branded items (like cigar box guitars, oil cans, beer cans, tin advertising signs, etc) in making musical instruments for resale.

Turns out, there some bad news and some not-so-bad-but-still-somewhat-worrisome news.  If you are building and selling, or intend to build and sell, cigar box guitars or other items that include a repurposed item that includes another companies trademarked branding images, you need to read this article.

Four New Cigar Box Ukulele Lessons Added!

One-hand Dan RussellWe just got done adding four new cigar box ukulele how-to video lessons to the knowledgebase. All four were created by One-hand Dan Russell, our resident ukulele expert.

Here are the links:

Stack-o-Leea classic old bluesy song, also known as “Stagger Lee”, which has been sung by a wide range of musicians from Mississippi John Hurt, to Dr. John and many more.

If I Needed Youa beautiful folk/country song written by Townes Van Zandt, that Emmy Lou Harris did an amazing version of.

I Still Miss Someone – One of Johnny Cash’s better-known compositions, this great old song tells a tale of longing… “Oh I never got over those blue eyes…” Emmy Lou Harris, Stevie Nicks and many other musicians have also done versions of this song.

Take a Whiff On Me (Cocaine Habit Blues)though its subject matter may now be considered taboo in polite company, this is a classic American blues/folk song first documented and published by Alan Lomax in the 1930’s. It has been covered by a wide range of performers from Woodie Guthrie to Jerry Garcia to the Old Crow Medicine Show.

That’s it, so grab your ukes and get to pickin’! 

 

Glenn Watt and Kenny Rogers on Cigar Box Guitar Building

GlennWatt.com

We have a feed of Glenn Watt’s blog here on the front page of CigarBoxGuitar.com, but his most recent post deserves some special attention.

In it, Glenn uses the words from Kenny’s famous song “The Gambler” as a motivational road map to building cigar box guitars (and doing pretty much any other DIY project as well).

Whether you’ve built one CBG or several hundred, give this a read. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

New Free Fret Calculator Just Added

Untitled-1A new free fretting calculator has just been added to the knowledgebase here at CigarBoxGuitar.com. Simply enter in the scale length you want (in either inches or millimeters) and it will show you the distance from the nut to place each fret from the first fret to #36 (you don’t have to use all of them).

The calculator even shows you which frets to skip to end up with a diatonic (dulcimer-style) fretboard!

Click the image to the left or click here to check out the calculator tool.

World War I Trench Cello Played for the First Time

Trench Art Cello
World War I Trench Art Cello recently strung and played for the first time. Photo courtesy of the BBC (www.bbc.com).

During the dark days in the trenches of World War I, soldiers created all sorts of amazing pieces of “trench art” to help pass the time. Shell casings, empty cartridges, gas cans and all other sorts of military garbage were crafted into sometimes amazing works of art, from ash trays to lamp stands, drinking glasses, vases and more. Some photo evidence suggests that the humble cigar box guitar also made appearances in the trenches of Europe. (For more info on the subject of trench art in general, check out the Wikipedia page here).

This story recently appeared on the BBC web page about one particular piece of trench art, a cello crafted from a metal gas can. As the story goes, it was built by a British soldier during World War I and was never played… until now. Check out the full article (click this link or the photo to the left) for more of this great homemade/handmade musical instrument’s story.

New Historical Patent Posted – Double-necked Dulcimer from 1880

Click the image above to view the knowledgebase post and full PDF of this historic patent.
Click the image above to view the knowledgebase post and full PDF of this historic patent.

Here is the latest cool old U. S. Patent we found to share with you – #223318 from way back in 1880!

This one shows a double-necked Appalachian-style dulcimer, with a rectangular sound box, which was granted a patent in 1880.

Believe it or not, this style of dulcimer actually played a roll in rural courtship rituals… do you know how? Check out the knowledgebase post to find out!

Want to try your hand at building your own dulcimer out of cigar boxes? Check out this post where dulcimer-whiz Diane shows you how!

Learn to play “Cocaine Blues” on the Cigar Box Ukulele

Click the image above to view the ukulele lesson entry in the knowledgebase!
Click the image above to view the ukulele lesson!

The latest video how-to lesson from One-hand Dan walks you through playing the classic blues song “Cocaine Blues”, in the style of Townes Van Zandt. This is the fourth in the series of ukulele how-to play vids Dan has done, and we’re glad to be able to host them here on CigarBoxGuitar.com!

In other cigar box ukulele news, we have been busy adding some new cigar box (and other custom) ukulele models to the lineup of finished instruments over at the C. B. Gitty store. Click here to check them out!

Historical Musical Instruments Patents Series – From game-changing inventions to just-plain-cool oddities

Patent - 1923 - US1446758 - Gibson Truss Rod Screen ShotWe have just posted the first in what will be a lengthy series of historical U. S. musical instrument patents. In this series we will feature historically significant inventions (the innaugral post is what we believe to be the first adjustable guitar truss rod, awarded to Gibson in 1923), as well as other interesting, inspirational or oddball musical inventions from the last 150 or so years.

Our hope is that cigar box guitar builders and other homemade & handmade instrument crafters will find these patents useful and even inspirational. We often find that looking at what has been done in the past can be a great starting point for coming up with new innovations.

We hope you enjoy this new feature of the CigarBoxGuitar.com knowledgebase!