I have questions regarding the simplest of lutherie, the cigar box uke!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Blargh, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. Blargh


    Apr 16, 2013
    Cookeville, TN
    Hey guys! Thanks for taking a gander at this thread, haha.

    Anyways, I've always wanted to get into lutherie, but being a highschool sophomor, money is at an all time low. Essentially, I have sand paper and a ban-saw to work with.

    So I'm going to make a cigar box ukulele! :D

    So the point of this thread? Well, I'm probably gonna have quite a few questions.

    So first off! Due to the simplicity of it, I'm going with a neck-through design, with f-holes.

    My question is how much will the neck through design affect the acoustics, and is there anything I need to put inside the box to make it sound better? I'm not too familiar with the guts of acoustic instruments.

    Thanks guys!
  2. Blargh


    Apr 16, 2013
    Cookeville, TN
    I forgot one detail...


    As you can see, the box is pretty deep, so the neck being inside wouldn't completely separate the inside of the box.
  3. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    My only tip would be to not let the neck through part come into contact with the underside of the soundboard - you can cut it away below there. If it comes into contact, instant sound deadening will result...
  4. Blargh


    Apr 16, 2013
    Cookeville, TN
    Thanks! Exactly what I needed to know. I thought up another question.

    I'm making the neck out of maple, and finishing it in poly. Should I do the fret work before or after I apply the poly? What order do you do that in?
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I spray after fretting and then scrape overspray off the frets. But to each their own... :)
  6. Blargh


    Apr 16, 2013
    Cookeville, TN
    Thanks again Beej! :D

    Here's a couple, while I remember them :p

    I was thinking I was going to cut a portion of the soundboard and extend the fretboard. That won't deaden the sound, will it? Even if the neck isn't cut away under that part?

    If the neck comes in contact under the soundboard at all, will it instantly deaden it, or could I get a way with just a littttllee bit of it touching?

    If that doesn't make sense, I have a drawing that may explain it better than that.
  7. Think of it this way, the stiffer the sound board, the less it will vibrate, meaning less sound. Anything connected to the soundboard will brace it somewhat. Depending on how thick your sound board is, you may want some additional bracing for supporting your bridge.
  8. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham

    Dec 19, 2005
  9. There is a reason you don't see through neck acoustic instruments.

    Most cigar box guitars use some kind of pickup, usually a peizo buzzer. They cost about $2.50 from Radio Shack. You can also make a headphone amp in an Altoid tin for less than $20.

    Check out the above links. It's fun and you'll learn a lot.
  10. taikatsu


    Oct 3, 2012
    In my experience, you can build the neck as a neck-through contacting the soundboard, but it changes the sound. It does not NECESSARILY deaden it, however, Beej is correct regarding an instrument of that size. It is equally important to make sure when the CB is closed, that it is closed well. I've built 7 or 8 cigar box guitars, and that's usually my main concern, as A LOT of resonance is carried through the whole body. Check out www.cbgitty.com for supplies. They carry a ukelele piezo pickup for this exact application.

    Also, here are some I've built, for reference:

    Mostly, don't be afraid to try designs, even if you are breaking the standard rules. Cigar boxes are about 3-5 dollars, and you'll learn something new every time.