“Open A” AEA Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsNot as widely used as some of the other open “power chord” 1-5-1 tunings, the A E A tuning is still a good one to try out and have in your toolbag. A full step higher than the more widely-seen Open G tuning, the high A note can be a bit too trebly for some people, but the lower tuning with the unwound .016″ as the middle A puts out a really nice sound.

This article gives you the exact strings to use to achieve this tuning on a cigar box guitar (or other instrument) that has a scale length in the range of 24.5 to 25.5 inches.

First, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Check out the various string sets available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Continue reading ““Open A” AEA Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open D” DAD Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsThis article follows the format used in our first article on cigar box guitar tunings, which covered the GDG Open G method. If you read that article, you may find some of this repetitive – feel free to skip down to the bottom where the specific string sizes are listed! – Gitty

After the GDG “Open G” tuning, the next most popular on 3-string cigar box guitars is probably DAD “Open D”. This tuning actually shows up, in part, on standard 6-string guitars, in the alternate “DADGAD” tuning. The lower-pitch versions of this tuning really have a low, bassy feel because of that big low D string, so it can be a very interesting option for cigar box guitar builders.

I have actually personally tested and confirmed (and revised!) the string gauges listed below during the writing of this article, so this isn’t just theory and guessing!

These Open D string sets and Many More available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Before we dive in, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Continue reading ““Open D” DAD Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open E” EBE Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsThis article follows the format used in our previous articles on cigar box guitar tuning. If you have read those articles, you may find some of this repetitive – feel free to skip down to the bottom where the specific string sizes are listed! – Gitty

The Open E tuning is not seen as often as the more popular GDG and DAD tunings, but it is a great alternative for cigar box guitar players, especially if you are playing a lot of blues. Shane Speal used this tuning on his recent album Holler!, on the track Big Leg Woman/Swing the Hammer.

Because of the bluesy feel of this tuning, we purposefully used a little smaller gauge strings on this tuning. The means that the strings are a little looser on the instrument, which is good for playing slide blues. If you like things a little tighter, try bumping up to medium or even heavy-gauge strings.

I have actually personally tested and confirmed (and revised!) the string gauges listed below during the writing of this article, so this isn’t just theory and guessing!

Before we dive in, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Continue reading ““Open E” EBE Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open G” GDG Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsOf all of the three-string cigar box guitar tunings, the most popular is probably the G D G open G tuning. Featured on many how-to-play videos on YouTube and CigarBoxNation.com, this tuning has become the de facto standard for 3-string slide blues.

A lot of new builders run into the question of how they achieve this tuning – which strings they should use, whether to go with larger strings or smaller, and so I wanted to try to demystify the topic.

First, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

These Open G string sets and Many More available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Continue reading ““Open G” GDG Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Make a Straight Headstock

No fancy tools required to make this awesome headstock for your cigar box guitar

By Glenn Watt

Thanks to craftswoman Farley Andresen for the demonstrating the work Straight heastock featured image

 No fancy tools required to make this awesome headstock for your cigar box guitar

Cigar box is in the name, but the neck is what turns the box into a cigar box guitar.

And the headstock – the part of the neck that anchors your tuning pegs – is a critical component to getting, and keeping, your CBG fully functional. Continue reading “A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Make a Straight Headstock”

CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar

A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment. While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

60-005-119 Image 3A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the methods you can use to decorate your builds, and wherever possible to use hardware that is both decorative AND useful – using a decorative Continue reading “CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar”

Cigar Box Guitar Building Tip: Neck Reinforcement with Humbuckers

In the video below, Shane Speal shows his technique of reinforcing internal bracing on neck-through cigar box guitars with extra wood. He also shows how to use a Forstner bit to route out the cavity for a mini humbucker pickup. (Note: the pickup used is a C. B. Gitty Toaster Bucker mini humbucker.) Continue reading “Cigar Box Guitar Building Tip: Neck Reinforcement with Humbuckers”

Cigar Box Ukulele Kit Assembly Guide

36-009-01 Guide Pages
Click the image above to view the how-to guide PDF.

This is the full how-to guide from C. B. Gitty’s Cigar Box Ukulele kit. While written with a focus on assembling the kit C. B. Gitty sells (which includes all of the parts and hardware you need in one easy package), this how-to guide is a good general introduction to building a cigar box ukulele, and could be useful if you want to try it on your own from scratch.

Click Here or on the image to the left to view the full guide document.

 

 

Deciding whether to fret your cigar box guitar

The questions come up often among Cigar Box Guitar builders: Is fretting worth it? Why would I want to fret my build? What do I need to know and what tools do I need to get started? Fretting can be a complex topic, but it doesn’t need to be a murky mystery to builders.

C. B. Gitty's Fretting GuideThe questions come up often among Cigar Box Guitar builders: Is fretting worth it? Why would I want to fret my build? What do I need to know and what tools do I need to get started? Fretting can be a complex topic, but it doesn’t need to be a murky mystery to builders. This article will attempt to cover some of the basic concepts to help you decide whether you are ready to take the plunge, as well as point you to other resources to help you get started.

One of the best resources you can find to help you get started fretting is our C. B. Gitty’s Fretting Guide, a 39-page electronic book packed with photos and great do-it-yourself how-to information Continue reading “Deciding whether to fret your cigar box guitar”

Diatonic (Dulcimer-Style) Fretting – What it is, How and Why to Use It

61-013-02 Image 4Most folks are familiar, at least by sight, with the six-string guitar – whether an acoustic guitar like a Martin or an electric guitar like a Fender Stratocaster™. So it is natural that when people think of frets, or a fretboard, they think of a guitar fretboard – an evenly distributed collection of frets that get closer together the further you go up the neck towards the guitar body.

First, let’s start with what Diatonic (Dulcimer) fretting is NOT…

On a standard guitar, like the Fender Strat mentioned above, or the cigar box guitar in the photo below, it is said to be fretted on a chromatic scale. We are not going to get into the theory behind what that means here, but just take away this tidbit: a chromatic scale, like on a standard guitar, allows you to play every note you could possibly need for a song. All of the sharps, “natural” notes and flats. It’s all in there, and if you aren’t sure of what you are doing it is pretty easy to hit a sharp or a flat when you don’t mean to, causing potentially jarring discordance. Continue reading “Diatonic (Dulcimer-Style) Fretting – What it is, How and Why to Use It”

Differences between Piezos and Magnetic Pickups

50-004-0X Product Image 2When 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?

A piezoelectric element is a very simple, yet remarkable device. In its most simple form, it consists of a disk of brass or other conductive metal, on which a very thin disk of ceramic is adhered. Continue reading “Differences between Piezos and Magnetic Pickups”