When it comes to electrifying a cigar box guitar (or really any stringed instrument, for that matter), there are two basic options: either a piezo pickup (sometimes called a contact pickup), or a magnetic pickup. Well, really there is a third option – a microphone – but we’ll not cover that here. So, what are the main differences between a piezo element pickup and a magnetic pickup?
Rod piezos can give you great improvements in overall tone and sound on your instrument builds, compared to a standard disc piezo. However, the standard rod piezo is made for a 6-string guitar, and at 2 ¾” in length, is often longer than a cigar box guitar builder needs or wants for embedding in a bridge. Fortunately, it is a fairly simple process to cut the rod piezos to a shorter length, for 3 or 4-string setups. However, it is important to cut it them in a certain way so you don’t ruin them, which is what this article will show you.
Electrifying your cigar box guitar or other homemade instrument build can be a very rewarding experience. Being able to plug into an amp not only gives you more volume, but it opens the door to a huge range of effects that would not otherwise be available. And it is a proven fact that having a pickup in a guitar makes it easier to sell – being able to plug in and rock out evokes images of Eddie Van Halen and Slash and is sure to get any would-be rocker’s blood pumping.
Glenn walks you through how he installs the mini humbucker pickup in the “Mi Amor” cigar box guitar he designed for C. B. Gitty.
How I Took This Cigar Box Guitar to a Whole New Level
The Mi Amor meets the Snake Oil Humbucker: A Killer Combo
It sounds raw and dirty.
A single coil pickup in a cigar box guitar has grit and a surly swagger. But for this build, the sound of a solitary single coil pickup is missing something.
When designing the Mi Amor – a recent addition to the C.B. Gitty line of guitars – I wanted it to have a big punch. Picture a cinder block-sized fist, wearing brass knuckles, being thrown into your gut. You know, really taking the air out of you.
This illustrated guide written by Glenn Watt
walks you through how to install the C. B. Gitty Part number 54-020-01, “Pre-Wired 4-String Single Coil Pickup Harness with Volume and Tone.” Cutout and drill bit sizes are given and the steps clearly shown for mounting one of these handy pre-wired pickup harnesses into cigar box guitars.
The principles in this guide can also be used for most any single-coil or humbucker pickup with a neck-through cigar box guitar, where you often have to notch down into the neck (and brace underneath it) to get the pickup into place.
So you want to hear that new gitty you’re building through your amplifier that’s been sitting unused behind the holiday decorations in the basement? Do you want to make certain that you can crank that little bad rabbit when everyone leaves and you’re left to your own devices in a quiet home? Or maybe you’re looking to level-up and retro-fit a pickup into a guitar you already have that’s been sorely needing a little volume. In the Pre-Wired Piezo and Jack Harness from C.B. Gitty you have the simplest way to electrify your instrument with the most basic of installation requirements.
If you have been thinking about using a magnetic pickup in your next cigar box guitar build, but aren’t sure about how they are different from piezo pickups, then here is a quick overview for you. Magnetic pickups can be a nice addition to most any cigar box guitar, but they do require some different handling and some knowledge of their unique properties. Continue reading
“Introduction to using Magnetic Pickups”
Putting electronic components into a cigar box guitar, and getting everything properly wired and connected, can be a daunting task for the first-timer – but it doesn’t have to be. In this article we will present several basic wiring diagrams created by Ted Crocker, and discuss each of them in some detail to help you understand what is going on.
When looking at the use of piezo elements as pickups in acoustic instruments, and specifically in cigar box guitars, there are two main types that get used – disk-style piezos, and rod-style piezos
While disk piezos are perhaps more prevalent, because they tend to be cheaper and easier to find, many builders feel that the rod-style piezos offer superior sound and tonal quality. This article delves into the differences between disk and rod-style piezos, and takes a close look at how rod piezos are put together.
This article covers some of the key basic methods for successful soldering, whether on your Cigar Box Guitar or other electronics project. Filled with photos and good advice that comes from years of experience, this short tutorial will have you successfully soldering in no time.
Topics covered include: the importance of tinning your iron and wires, what good solder joints look like, soldering to a tone/volume pot, soldering to a piezo, and wire aesthetics. If you have been uncertain about your soldering skills, this tutorial is a great place to start improving.
A lot of new Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) builders (and more than a few veterans) tend to get a bit uneasy when the topic of piezo pickups comes up. Everyone seems to have a different idea of how to use them. Some folks say that they should be built into the bridge, others attach them to the exterior of the bridge; some mount them inside the box lid, others attach them to the outside of the lid. Add in concepts such as insulation methods, multiple piezos, volume potentiometers and wiring schematics, and the waters tend to get pretty muddy pretty fast.
This two-part article is meant to be a basic “here’s what you need to get started” approach to helping people install a piezo pickup into their Cigar Box Guitar build. We will cover the basics of what piezo to use, where you can put it, how to mount it, and how to wire it to a jack. We will also briefly discuss the topic of wiring in a otentiometer.
This article is a continuation of the Piezo 101 Introduction to Piezo Basics. In this article we move from theory and general information to how-to info you can put to direct use in your builds. There are two main themes to this section: WHERE you should mount your piezo, and HOW you should mount it. Both of these are very important to consider when your goal is to get the best possible sound out of your cigar box guitar.