One of the best things about making music is that it’s so easy to do. There are countless ways to make interesting sounds out of nearly anything if you’re willing to experiment a little bit — just ask anyone who has ever made a guitar out of a cigar box and a broom handle.
[Vicious Squid] dug in to the fertile soil of the garden implement world and cultivated a three-string upright bass with a rich, soulful sound from a familiar workhorse — an aluminium wheelbarrow. Much of the build is made from reclaimed wood, like the solid mahogany neck from an old door frame, and a broom handle.
The bass is constructed arch-top style, meaning that the soundboard — the wood on the front with the f-holes — is a flat piece tacked to curved ribs that span the width of the ‘barrow. A broom handle sound post mounted front to back pushes vibrations from the soundboard to the aluminium body. To round out the agricultural aesthetic, [Vicious Squid] strung it with weed-whacker bass strings, which are no doubt inspired by the use of actual trimmer line.
It’s already plenty loud, but [Vicious Squid] added a piezo pickup for wheeling it into the recording studio. Slap your way past the break to hear a little ditty.
Are your instrument-building skills at the sapling stage? Start with something simpler, like a sliding rubber bandolin.
Continue reading “Wheelbarrow Bass Drives A Sound Garden”
[Atdiy and Whisker], collectively known as [The Tymkrs] have been busy honing their luthier skills. They’ve created a 10 part YouTube series about the construction of their new cigar box guitar. Instead of a cigar box though, they’ve substituted a 1920’s tin cigarette box. The Omar Cigarette company gave “Project Omar” it’s name. Like [Tymkrs] previous guitar, Omar is a three string affair. The neck was cut from Black Palm, which really shined when polished with a mixture of orange oil and beeswax. They also threw in a couple of new tricks on this build. Omar is an electric guitar, with a pickup custom wound by [Bob Harrison]. Omar also has frets, which creates a whole new set of complications. Frets are generally installed by cutting slits in the guitar neck with a fret saw. Rather than buy a new tool, [Tymkrs] created a simple jig for their mini table saw. The jig held the guitar neck perpendicular with the saw blade. This made quick work of the many fret slits to be cut. Installed frets must also be dressed and leveled, which is a time-consuming process.
The tin cigarette box also created a new set of problems. The thin tin proved to be a bit on the weak side when the strings were tightened down. A bit too much pressure on the box while playing would cause notes to bend, much like the tremolo or whammy bar on a standard electric guitar. [Tymkrs] were able to counteract this by adding bracing inside, and a couple of black palm braces to the back of the box.
Hum was also a problem. When [Tymkrs] first plugged in, they found they had more 60Hz mains hum than signal from their strings. Omar uses a classic single coil guitar pickup. Single coils will pick up noise from any magnetic field, including the field created by the studio electrical system. A humbucking pickup uses two coils to counteract this effect. Humbuckers also have a slightly different tone than single coils. [Tymkrs] wanted to stick with their single coil tone, so they counteracted the hum by raising the pickup closer to the strings. Higher pickups receive more signal from the strings, so this is basically a free signal to noise ratio improvement. They also grounded the entire tin box, along with Omar’s metal tail stock. The final build sounds great, as evidenced by the jam session toward the end of Video 10.
Continue reading “A Guitar From An Old Tin Box”