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mendel
12-10-2011, 11:42 AM
Found a cigar store willing to give me boxes for free. Thinking about trying to build a cigar box uke. Never built before. Any size requirements for the box? Any "How-To's" available? How do they sound comared to a regular uke??

manapualabs
12-10-2011, 11:58 AM
Tons of info online. For example:

http://carolinafiddle.com/images/pdf%20files/How%20to%20Make%20a%20Cigar%20Box%20Ukulele.pdf

Just Google "cigar box ukulele" +"how to"

Have fun!

Liam Ryan
12-10-2011, 02:54 PM
They sound great next to a $20 dolphin.

Don't build a CBU if you want a great sounding uke. Build a CBU because you want a uke that's got some mojo.

BlackBearUkes
12-10-2011, 03:07 PM
If you build with the right box and have the ability and know how to put it together correctly, a cigar box uke can sound extremely good, even much better than some store bought ukes that cost a lot more money. Most folks treat a cigar box uke as just a novelty item, and in most cases they are, but they can be a great sounding uke also.

Gmoney
12-10-2011, 03:24 PM
A friend of mine here in N. Alabama, Bill Jehle, is the curator of the "National Cigar Box Guitar Museum" & author of "One Man's Trash: A History of the Cigar Box Guitar" which does a great job of covering the cigar-box instrument genre. And... you will be in good company... look at an earlier post after I first met Bill & saw his KAMAKA cigar box uke (Sam Kamaka made 12 of these & Bill has one in the collection - which he bought from MGM)

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?40601-Sam-Kamaka-Jr.-quot-cigar-box-quot-uke-anyone-!&p=574216#post574216

And though not ukes - in Atlanta is one amazing creator & player of cigar box guitars, Mike Snowden.

http://www.snowdenguitars.com/

Mahalo!

manapualabs
12-10-2011, 03:25 PM
Our Tom Guy tenor cigarbox `ukulele is incredibly well made; the neck fits my hand perfectly and the action is sweet. The tone is okay, but hey, it's a cigar box! I grew up playing cigar box `ukuleles that my dad made for me (so I wouldn't play his Kamaka) and Tom Guy's are a factor of ten times better. They deserve to be recognized as "real" `ukuleles.

WhenDogsSing
12-11-2011, 09:03 AM
Use a cigar box that has "finger-jointed" or "dovetail" construction.

mendel
12-11-2011, 02:32 PM
What type of box do you guys suggest??? I like the way the Cohiba boxes look.

BlackBearUkes
12-11-2011, 07:15 PM
I would suggest a box that is made of solid woods like redwood or cedar. Plywood boxes are a waste of time IMO. The brand name of the box or how it looks are of little concern unless you just want to glue an existing neck on a box and put together a ULO (Ukulele like object.) If that is the case, just go for it and good luck with your project.

PhilUSAFRet
12-12-2011, 01:15 PM
Good place to start here. My son and I are in the same process. I have been saving online pics for examples of cigar box instrument ideas I like. i.e. headstock, bridge, tuners, neck, pickups. Lots of nice ones on ebay to just check out for designs, etc (search in musical instruments, cigar box). Size a matter of preference. Good luck.

http://www.cigarboxnation.com/

ukebuilder
12-12-2011, 02:55 PM
I have made more than I want to admit to, My best results is find an all wood box. Most of the paper ones are cardboard. They will sound dead. The best for a uke is the old all wood boxes. I have even taking a box apart and ran it though the sander to thin it down and then glue it back up. It was the best sounding one I did. You don't need much far as bracing unless you thin it down. The wood itself is plenty thick. I have tuns of pics if you want any. I even have one uke I made with a small cohiba box. looked great and he loved it and even ordered one for his daughter. One thing I will say is dont use the back as the front. They look so much better with the top being the front. Just glue the lid down when your ready and it will stay. Good luck, they are fun to do and free boxes are always good.

mendel
12-14-2011, 02:18 AM
What type of glue do you use to set the bracing in the box? Is it the same as the glue used to attach the bridge to the front?

ukebuilder
12-14-2011, 10:57 AM
I know better than talk about glue ever again. LOL I would use what ever you use, I have used T1 and I know many others will work.

hberwald
12-15-2011, 08:30 AM
I like the full wood boxes. Padron, Tempus, cohiba, etc. The larger the box volume, the fuller the sound. Be sure to sand down to bare wood when attaching the bridge, don't ask how I know. I have built 4 or so out
of the brick house plywood box, add a piezo if you want volume.

Check out the ukulele group on http://www.cigarboxnation.com I also have some how to's and links on my page at http://www.cigarguitar.com and you can do a facebook search for "cigarbox". I have
some videos on youtube at http://youtube.com/user/thecigarguitar .

If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to help....herb

steel rider
11-22-2013, 02:19 PM
I am very interested in building a CBU. I'm handy but have no serious tools other than drills, table saw, jig saw, dremel, etc. I've discovered various sites and methods to build and am hoping people with experience can weigh in on some of my comments and questions, with the idea that the process should be on the simpler side:

1. Use a real wood box. I am looking for a roughly 8"x12"x 2 1/2" (ish) box for a concert scale uke. I like that rectangular look with the graphics showing and two sound holes on either side of the strings. I have an old drill attachment for doorknobs and am thinking that will work for the holes. I can get the neck, fretboard, etc from Mainland, and would probably order geared tuners too.

2. Use the front or back of the box? I guess this would depend how the graphics are done.

3. I don't think I want to cut a new sheet of wood for a soundboard but I do want it to sound good. Do I really need to thin down the top/bottom? If so is this something that can be done by hand or with a hand sander?

4. The soundboard, if thin, should be braced. It looks like a trapezoid shape is what most people are using rather than just rectangle? Does this help the sound resonate better?

5. Do I need to brace all the the corners and edges of the box on the inside?

6. I think I will connect the neck using a block on the inside of the box and a bolt into the end of the neck. Sorry I forget the name of the threaded piece that goes into the neck. I will also sand and glue where the neck hits the box.

7. Is the saddle and bridge (for a concert style) simply glued onto the soundboard? That doesn't seem right to me. I did see some that threaded the string through the soundboard with a knot but I think those were using soprano bridges. This seems like the biggest stress point in the build so I will have to research that a bit more.

8. I am assuming the piezo pickup, if I just buy a completed one, simply attaches to the inside of the soundboard with the headphone jack that can also be used as a strap button. That would need a block of some sort to brace as well.


Thanks for any comments and help. Any links to photos would be fantastic. This will be a project with my almost 13 year old son, so we can't have too many setbacks or he will want to go play a video game instead!

steel rider
11-24-2013, 02:04 PM
OK maybe that is too many questions at once. :(


I am very interested in building a CBU. I'm handy but have no serious tools other than drills, table saw, jig saw, dremel, etc. I've discovered various sites and methods to build and am hoping people with experience can weigh in on some of my comments and questions, with the idea that the process should be on the simpler side:

1. Use a real wood box. I am looking for a roughly 8"x12"x 2 1/2" (ish) box for a concert scale uke. I like that rectangular look with the graphics showing and two sound holes on either side of the strings. I have an old drill attachment for doorknobs and am thinking that will work for the holes. I can get the neck, fretboard, etc from Mainland, and would probably order geared tuners too.

2. Use the front or back of the box? I guess this would depend how the graphics are done.

3. I don't think I want to cut a new sheet of wood for a soundboard but I do want it to sound good. Do I really need to thin down the top/bottom? If so is this something that can be done by hand or with a hand sander?

4. The soundboard, if thin, should be braced. It looks like a trapezoid shape is what most people are using rather than just rectangle? Does this help the sound resonate better?

5. Do I need to brace all the the corners and edges of the box on the inside?

6. I think I will connect the neck using a block on the inside of the box and a bolt into the end of the neck. Sorry I forget the name of the threaded piece that goes into the neck. I will also sand and glue where the neck hits the box.

7. Is the saddle and bridge (for a concert style) simply glued onto the soundboard? That doesn't seem right to me. I did see some that threaded the string through the soundboard with a knot but I think those were using soprano bridges. This seems like the biggest stress point in the build so I will have to research that a bit more.

8. I am assuming the piezo pickup, if I just buy a completed one, simply attaches to the inside of the soundboard with the headphone jack that can also be used as a strap button. That would need a block of some sort to brace as well.


Thanks for any comments and help. Any links to photos would be fantastic. This will be a project with my almost 13 year old son, so we can't have too many setbacks or he will want to go play a video game instead!

gnordenstam
11-25-2013, 06:05 AM
You may want to start with a neck through design. Look at plans for three and four string cigar box guitars, you need to adjust the scale length, but the build principles are the same for a cgb uke (but with a lot less string tension).

This book is a great starting point, it helped me a lot.
http://www.amazon.com/Cigar-Box-Guitars-Ultimate-Revolution/dp/1565235479/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385399082&sr=8-1&keywords=Cigar+box+instruments

steel rider
11-25-2013, 07:03 AM
I haven't looked at neck through designs. I'm assuming I will buy a neck and fretboard pre-made for my first build.


You may want to start with a neck through design. Look at plans for three and four string cigar box guitars, you need to adjust the scale length, but the build principles are the same for a cgb uke (but with a lot less string tension).

This book is a great starting point, it helped me a lot.
http://www.amazon.com/Cigar-Box-Guitars-Ultimate-Revolution/dp/1565235479/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385399082&sr=8-1&keywords=Cigar+box+instruments

hoosierhiver
11-25-2013, 07:28 AM
I've found the best boxes are slightly vintage and from Central America.

Typically I've used the back of the box as the front of the uke because you'll have more side to attach the neck to.

You shouldn't have to use extra bracing and if you have a good box the top should be thin enough for decent sound.

You should be able to just glue on the bridge (don't glue in the saddle), you will probably want to remove any finish on the box in that spot and least rough it up so the glue holds better.

steel rider
11-25-2013, 09:46 AM
I've found the best boxes are slightly vintage and from Central America.

Typically I've used the back of the box as the front of the uke because you'll have more side to attach the neck to.

You shouldn't have to use extra bracing and if you have a good box the top should be thin enough for decent sound.

You should be able to just glue on the bridge (don't glue in the saddle), you will probably want to remove any finish on the box in that spot and least rough it up so the glue holds better.



Cool thanks. I will order my supplies when I get my other stuff from you.


I just noticed a tutorial from a guy who made a "GBU" out of a wine box. I hadn't thought of that. That's very California, though I'd think a "WBU" would definitely need bracing.

Phluffy the Destroyer
11-25-2013, 07:21 PM
I built a fretless cigar box guitar about 18 months ago, and I've been toying with the idea of a uke lately myself. These things aren't that complicated. At it's most basic, a cigar box instrument is a box with a stick attached and a couple of strings. Don't let it intimidate you. If you use a piezo pick-up wired with 2 or 3 piezos, you really don't even need to do anything to the box other than attach ukulele parts.

Having said that...

The more effort you put into building one of these things, the more likely you will have a fine instrument that is a joy to play. I would suggest a long visit to Cigar Box Nation (http://www.cigarboxnation.com/). These are the CBG enthusiasts, and you will learn more than you'll ever need to know by just browsing their forums and checking out their groups. (they have a uke group, btw). They also have over 4500 pages of member photos. Some of them include WIP pics, and some of them are finished products. If you want information or ideas, Cigar Box Nation is where you need to go...

L'Ukes Lutherie
11-28-2013, 08:22 AM
I build cigar box ukuleles. All of the materials I use are scrap, trash, junk, etc. The only "specialized" tools I use were made -by me- using basic tools.

6130661307

The uke shown above has a neck made from a mahogany door jamb, rosewood nightstand fretboard bridge and tuning pegs, braizing rod frets, screw head fret markers, cedar fence bracing, corian countertop nut and saddle, and an XBox game disc inlay; the label was printed on a NYC subway map. I bought the shellac flakes Everclear alcohol and olive oil for the french polish. The strings are flouro uke strings, but we've already found out that those are really fishing line so I'm not sure if that's cheating.

A little while back I took this very uke into Matt Umanov Guitars for a "Pepsi Challange" against a Martin and a Kamaka -each with a price tag hovering right around two grand. While the staff had personal favorites as to tone, intonation, playability, etc. there was no clear winner among the three (I recused myself due to bias). I say this not to toot my own horn (I was astonished honored and humbled by the whole experience) but to say that it is indeed possible to make a truly fine instrument with neither exotic materials nor expensive equipment. The most important tool to acquire and skill to master is patience.

That said, it cannot be done quickly or proffitably. While I do sell my work for what seems to me to be quite a lot of money, I could never charge enough -or failing that build fast enough- to make a living at it. There simply aren't enough hours in a day. Take you time, work carefully, ask a lot of questions, practice new skills before applying them. You will be rewarded by the experience, and may be very pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Ukuleles are complex things, which just means that they are a collection of simple things working in concert. Anything is only "complicated" if you don't understand it. What one man can do, another can do....