View Full Version : Have a couple cigar boxes...

06-08-2010, 05:14 PM
One is 10.5" x 8" x 2", one is just under 10" x 8" x 2". Can I make a concert scale uke out of these or are they to small?

First time attempt and any input or pointing me in the right direction would be much appreciated. I'd like to create an instrument to handle and respond well to some clawhammer and other bluegrass styles.

06-08-2010, 09:43 PM
What are you waiting for? Sounds perfect. Go for it!!!

06-08-2010, 10:00 PM
10" body length is not exactly spacious for a concert - but for a CBU... As Dave says, go for it.

You could join at the 14th fret instead of the 12th, which would make the neck a little longer (about 11%) and would also move the bridge/saddle that much closer to the middle.

06-08-2010, 10:13 PM
True. That's the main consideration when choosing a cigar box and finished Uke size. You have to figure your scale length, decide where you want the neck to join the body, and leave room for bridge placement. It's not uncommon for a CBU to join the body at the 14th or 15th fret. Just go with it and work it out for yourself and you'll do fine. I attached a stock concert neck to a 9" box and the bridge was about an 1 1/2 from the end. If I had it to do over again I might have used a Soprano neck instead to get the bridge further away from the edge. Instead, I have a hand made neck in the works that will eventually join at the 15th fret. The bridge placement should be much better on this one.

Matt Clara
06-09-2010, 01:03 AM
While 10" may not be spacious for a concert uke, it's about as big as they come as far as cigar boxes go, so you're right on the money.

06-09-2010, 02:33 AM
Actually, those boxes are almost exactly the same size as I make my boat-shaped concert bodies. I join the neck at the 14th fret and it works well.

06-09-2010, 04:07 AM
I've made one fretless CBG and plan to make my first CBU this summer--this is all very helpful advice. I am a little nervous about this endeavor...

06-09-2010, 06:56 AM
Here is a little scribble of what I was talking about.


I based these on a scale length of 13" for soprano and 15" for concert. The nut, the 12th and the bridge are marked in white. Everything is drawn to scale (within reason), but please don't sue me if I'm off by a pixel - it's just a sketch, not a blueprint.

06-09-2010, 07:09 AM
Oh, my god, Erich! I can't believe you were off by .001 of a millimeter on the second one! HOW DARE YOU!

Next, you'll be off by 0.0005 of a millimeter when you do the calculations for the size of the soundhole! TERRIBLE!

(Just kidding! Those are awesome! Well done, sir!)

06-09-2010, 07:41 AM
Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I have to make some decisions now regarding whether or not to use the current tops of the boxes, or the bottoms for the sound board. I've also seen where people replace the bottom with a piece of spruce and use that as a sound board. I'm excited about this, but I don't really have any tools yet and I live in an apartment without a sweet workshop like many of you have. Where do I find the formula for sound hole calculation?

**I found a thread where Eric explains the sound hole calcs. -thanks Eric. Now I'll see if I can understand it.

06-12-2010, 08:46 AM
I would use the deepest of the 2 unless one just looks a better than the other.
I would use the lid as the top and see how it sounds 1st. It'll be a simple matter latter to replace the lid.
I don't use bottoms as tops ... their usually pretty plain looking.
I would build it 1st .... try it out without a soundhole. You might be surprised! It is a compromise anyway, and sometimes, loosing vibrating surface can be more harmful than adding a soundhole will be helpful. I've built each way, I really don't see a lot of difference ...... even more so if yer gonna amp it.

Quick easy build with minimal tools.
Decide on your scale length. I put bridges about 1/3 from the tail-end. Again a compromise. Putting it in the middle can make it a bit crowded to play.
Go to Lowes Hardware, or the orange one ... doesn't matter which one, and find the pre-finished hardwoods. Find a 1x2 red oak "stick" in a length that will work for your overall length.
The rest is easy. Notch holes for the neck to go thru the box. Notch the top of the neck thru section so the soundboard can move freely(leave a small "shelf" at each end to support the soundboard.) Drill holes for the tuners, cut a slot for the nut. Frets are another matter entirely, but doable.
Forget calculating for the soundhole ... about the size of a quarter is about all a cigar box needs or can afford to loose.