Now, I am one of those people who has never build a cigar box guitar. Really!
That's because I'm living on a lonesome hill in central Portugal and I just didn't find any cigar box here. Call me a "purist" but I do not want to buy a box or any other part for that matter. Not only because of the choice once made to go and live in a place where modern gadgets haven't set foot on the ground yet, but also because all penny's made are needed to get food on the table. No, I (we) am not a misfortunate person, it's a well thought over decision to give up on microwaves, dishwashers and other modern life convenient equipment, to be able to get more into the joy of living without the daily stress of bosses, managers and dress codes. That said, it doesn't mean I live without the normal luxury of daily life appliances like fridge, freezer, washing machine etc. but why should I have a microwave if there are no "microwave ready-made meals" available and all food comes fresh from the land. Next to that, I actually do like to have an outside shower under the 70-year-old bucket. So what does all that have to do with building homemade instruments you might think, well....
In the last months of 2017 we made some instruments next to all the other bespoke work.
The building of the 4-string Something was documented in 5 video's.
In last week we completed the Nougat Box 3-string. A rusty looking tin box guitar with shop made tuners and copper wire frets.
Now, yes we are going to artisan markets regularly. We do take the RBG's along every time without the intention to sell one. How big would the chance be to find somebody interested in the rural heart of Portugal for such an instrument. It's all the other little gadgets we make in the Not Just Sawdust workshop that have to attract the visitors and very rarely we do sell an item. It's mostly handing out business cards and talking about, almost never signed, orders to recycle somebody's tree or old wood. This time, at the Feira da Alegria, it turned out to be totally different. There was a lot of interest and we met a collector of CBG's who in the end bought the "Teres Angulus" . We are very happy with the fact that this 3-string is now in the hands of somebody who appreciates the details on that guitar.
Not only did we sell a RBG, more bigger items out of the workshop were sold. Much to our surprise there was a journalist of a local newspaper, the MedioTejo, who was clearly interested in the work we do, especially in the recycling part that is connected with making recycled box or cigar box guitars. After a few questions she asked whether she could take a photo of me and one of the RBG's. And so... we ended up in an article about the event. Lot's got lost in the translation, but hey, it is a nice reminder of a perfect day on an artisan fair!
The bass was made out of 4 component's: A Satellite disk (that I took of our house just so I could do a project "Tim Sway" style), the back of an old chair, a corner post of a cabinet that our neighbours wanted to get rid of and a few pieces of hardwood that came (as many times) from the showroom samples that a friend gave me a long time ago. I extended it with a 4,99 bridge piezo and pre-amp out of china, the strings were 12 Euro. (but I have still 2 left to make an other bass instrument).
A Ukelele I made out of reclaimed wood and recycled materials for the Woodworking Europe Collaboration Build.
Beech for the sides (bend on a heat-pipe) and the neck, Oak panels for front and back (arch-top planed) some old floorboard hardwood for all little parts. The tuners were made out of some levers and Ikea screws.
It's all in the details at this 3 string Recycled Box Guitar. Smooth lines, a simple design. But when it should look simple, the details get important. Angled frets, fretmarks made out of aluminium tubing filled with beech, a "fretboardless" neck, "fado" style tuners, knobs made with copper tube and some hardwood, a special designed tailpiece and adjustable bridge made from a brass bolt, a "humbucker" pickup. All that placed at the same angle. It plays very well with a slide....
The work on the Teres Angulus goes faster then we can photograph. It's just those moments when you are in a flow and progress is going quickly. The first few coats of wax are on, the tailpiece and bridge are made, as well as the knobs. All combining aluminium or copper with wood. There's still a few coats of wax to put on, but it won't be long before the assembly.
Yes, the design and fabrication process of number 3 in the the Fab Four series is on the way. A smooth, "fretboardless", angled fretted, "Humbucker" equipped RBG completed with "Fado" style tuners. So we call it The Teres Angulus. The neck is made out of "Mogno" (the Portuguese word for mahogany).
And we came up with our own quick and dirty offset fretsaw solution...
To get a little bit of stylish "wow" we designed new fret-markers, aluminium and beech...
Time do do some shaping and getting the fret's on the neck, no room for mistakes because there's no separate fretboard.
The Kiwaidae, a recycled box guitar. Ingredients: An old beech box with plywood front and back, a piece of .. vitae, 3 tuna cans, a piece of beech from an old bed for the neck, some threaded rod, nuts and washers, recycled tuners from some broken Spanish guitar, two 38 mm and 2 two 14 mm piezo's, some wiring and a few old potentiometers left over from a guitar repair. Combine all with a bit of creativity and see here; a tri-cone resonator RBG!
Yes, we came up with a name for the tri-cone tuna can's RBG. "The Kiwaidae", named after a 6 legged crab and Kiwa is a male guardian of the sea in Maori mythology. All this because of the re-used tuners that have more or less the shape of a 6 legged water creature, that we copied (in a simplified form) thru out the whole guitar.
After the last coat of lacquer dried, we started with the assembly of the tuna can's. They are on 3mm threaded rod, held in place by ex-ballpoint pen springs, so they are "floating" in the sound holes. Now it's time to do the wiring of the 4 piezo's and components that came out of an old guitar. Wish us luck....
The Creative Couple
They are living in a 200 year old cottage on a lonely hill in the rural heart of Portugal. Next to working on the Triple Chaos creative instruments in the "Not Just Sawdust" woodwork and recycling workshop, they're running the Bluesbarn Studio, make video's, write poems and books, paint, build marionettes and other puppets, love, welcome guests, and enjoy life their way.