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View Full Version : Oh well--I'll try again



BluesPreacher
02-06-2017, 05:56 AM
OK--

My first attempt at building a $20 cigar box uke, per the instructions posted by Shelley Rickey on cigarboxnation.com: EPIC FAIL!!

I blame myself entirely! Here's my post mortem:

1.) I used an old pine 1x2 that I found in my basement, left from home improvement projects by the previous owner--my wife's grandpa (who passed in '96). WAY too soft to work with well. Poplar--much better.

2.) I made the headstock area WAY too small. Didn't leave enough room for the tuning keys to be decently placed.

3.) I made the nut VERY poorly. A.) I used wood I cut out of an old wooden ruler. Too soft. B.) I didn't cut grooves, but notches. They couldn't hold the strings decently. C.) I made it the wrong height. Not sure what the right height would have been, but mine was wrong.

4.) The zip tie frets didn't work out. They were probably too big. I used 8" ones. That's the smallest I can find at Lowe's. There have got to be smaller ones, that would be easier to tie on and make work as frets, and that wouldn't be nearly as thick. But...where to find them?

So...I took off two of the tuning keys, put on two steel strings and made it a slide-machine guit. (BTW, the body is a Christmas cookie tin, not a CB. Just thought I'd mention.)

Oh well. I'll try again. With poplar.

sequoia
02-06-2017, 07:24 PM
I'm sorry your effort turned out so badly. I say ditch the poplar. Not a good instrument wood and go with some decent wood and real metal frets and some bent wood sides. In other words, try to make a real acoustic instrument. It isn't that hard nor is it that expensive. Get some plans (don't try to wing it at this stage, you can wing it later) and follow them best you can and I think you will enjoy the process of building a lot more.

Titchtheclown
02-06-2017, 08:09 PM
For my first builds I used split bamboo toothpicks. They wear out but are easy to replace. Split them with a sharp knife and try to pick ones the same size after splitting..Others have recommended flat cut off bobby pins.
Melamine chopsticks make great cheap nuts.

BluesPreacher
02-07-2017, 11:11 AM
For my first builds I used split bamboo toothpicks. They wear out but are easy to replace. Split them with a sharp knife and try to pick ones the same size after splitting..Others have recommended flat cut off bobby pins.
Melamine chopsticks make great cheap nuts.

So, the toothpicks--do you just glue them on? And the flat part of the bobby pin--do you glue that on, flat side down?

The melamine chopsticks--where does one find those?

Thanks!

kalmario
02-07-2017, 02:04 PM
bobby pins are easy. super glue them on. don't last long though but very easy to fix. with cigar boxes the top will be dead sounding and best replaced with any solid wood but thinned down to 2-3 mm. but do that once you've mastered a few. fixed a makala dolphin last night. replaced the whole top with a cigar box lid and sunk a biscuit tin into it. such fun. he he he

Cheers

Cliff.

p.s. got any pictures?

Titchtheclown
02-07-2017, 10:42 PM
Any hard plastic looking chopstick will be fine.
Superglue for everything. Or any reputable wood glue for toothpicks.
Small spring clamps or big clothes pegs to hold them down. If you have the patience you can even just hold them in place for a minute or two.

jcalkin
02-10-2017, 06:11 AM
My 2x4 tenor uke is closing in on its first year. Its my most played instrument, and is holding up very nicely. Everything but the truss rod is from the same softwood stud. Its first set of strings is going dead, but it sounds fine nevertheless. I don't think anyone can blame the failure of an instrument on the wood they used. Blame it on inexperience. Lutherie is a job you have to grow into.

BluesPreacher
02-13-2017, 05:37 AM
I don't think anyone can blame the failure of an instrument on the wood they used. Blame it on inexperience. Lutherie is a job you have to grow into.

Good point. Yea, it's challenging--and a lot of fun.

Titchtheclown: I put down bobby pins for the frets for attempt #2, and doggoned if they're not working really well! Thanks! I put them on with plenty of super glue.

Now, if I can get it worked out what the best strings are to use given my scale ends up being somewhat longer than your average soprano. Tenor? Maybe.

Titchtheclown
02-13-2017, 09:10 AM
Now, if I can get it worked out what the best strings are to use given my scale ends up being somewhat longer than your average soprano. Tenor? Maybe.

I use fishing line on most of my builds i bought the cheap quarter pound spools of nylon line from Big W for about five dollars each
My Recipe for slightly longer scale legths is 50 80 60 40 lb fishing line. For soprano 60 100 80 50. For sopranino 40 60 50 30

BluesPreacher
02-15-2017, 05:12 AM
Success! BOOM! I just finished my second attempt at a homemade uke (after my wife gave me a Dremel for Valentine's Day--THANKS HONEY!!), after plans on cigarboxnation.com, and doggone if it doesn't actually play music--and it doesn't sound too bad! My next builds, I'm sure, will be better.

Eye bolt bridge, flathead screws for the nut, Aquila Nylgut strings, bobby pin frets. It works!

Check it out:
97851
97852

sequoia
02-15-2017, 06:49 PM
Now that is one fun looking instrument! So glad it sounds good.