Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Placing Your Cigar Box Guitar Frets

The cool thing with Cigar Box Guitars is that they are custom. There are no rules is the motto and as such if you wing some of your implementation (like I did) you end up with a custom instrument and then some.

I had been playing the guitar for 2 days when I decided it is time to add some frets and the Piezo pickups. The Frets so that it is easier for the kids (and myself) to learn on this guitar. The Piezo pickups so I have a lo-fi electric guitar I can jack into my amp.

I measured from my nut to my bridge and I came up with 676 millimetres. Of that only 510 millimetres are usable for the frets. How do I figure out the fretting for this?

This is where Stewart MacDonald comes in. He has some handy informational pages on stringed instrument construction and one of those is a Fret Calculator.

Here were the calculations it gave me for my setup:

From this I placed test measurements to see if the generated fret placements work well. Once I tested the locations and made a few adjustments for slide versus chord playing I marked the frets with a black marker and square.

Then some fret markers and additional fret markers along the top of the neck to help the boys find the frets without needing to turn the guitar up to see the frets.

Volia, custom frets without physical frets to make slide playing easier. Note that with medium strings this makes playing the first 3 frets difficult with chords since there is no fret to use to push the string against. So, this may limit my ability to play chords in this region. If it turns into a problem I may add a physical fret to the first 3 frets to compensate for that issue.

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