Here’s something a bit different – a patent that was granted by the U. S. Patent Office in 1936, to one Grant C. Haium of Wisconsin, for a musical instrument formed (according to the drawing) from a pitchfork, tightened string, resonator drum and an interesting slide/resonator box. He even even states that he prefers to use a cigar box as his unique slide/resonator (see quote below)
Here is how the patentee described his creation:
“Being an innovation, and in fact somewhat of a rustic revelation, the structure will be found notable as a unique contribution to the art and trade in that it may be justly accredited as possessing the attributes of an irregular yet practicable stringed musical instrument which though of a limited tone compass is nevertheless usable, in teh hands of an artist, to promote achievement not of a renowned type, but rather of a captivating and humorous character calculated to appeal to a listener moved by the efforts of a humble performer.”
Later, he writes: “The slide [the box with the hole in it shown in the drawing] has an additional function, however, and is in the nature of a sound wave amplifying unit. Under the circumstances, I have found it expedient and practical to use an ordinary cigar box and to fasten the lid closed and to form an opening or outlet in the top thereof. This enables the box to serve somewhat in the capacity of the “body” on a violin or equivalent instrument.”
Here’s one of the better known Christmas songs for children, which tells the story of Santa Claus’ nighttime arrival. We have included both the melody line and some strumming accompaniment, but you can skip that extra stuff by just focusing on the topmost line/number for each note.
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.