Unfinished Business – How to Easily Finish your Cigar Box Guitar Projects


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From time to time it is necessary for me to take a good hard look around the shop for projects that I have started and not quite finished. Sometimes I will get to a point on a project where I am missing a part. You know how is something you need to go here or there to make it that work of art that you’re striving for. Let’s say one case “what am I going to use for the bridge.” Now you can just go over to the table saw and with a little practice cut out a nice wooden saddle. A nice bridge saddle where you could put in a blank and notch it however you need. Then other times you may be looking for just the right re-purposed part to do the job (a screw or a bolt). A key is a good example of using something other than a standard bridge. Cigar box guitar bridges are as plain or as complicated as you want to make them. So let’s say I have two guitars I am looking for pieces to hang them up in the shop where I can see them from time to time. Seeing them keeps them on my mind and thinking about what I might fine to finish them up. This is well and good until you realize you have like me maybe five or six projects that are almost complete.

From time to time I just have to finish things up. To start I will take a notepad and go over each uncompleted project and take notes on what is needed to complete it, in regards to labor and parts. Now I have a shopping list on what I need, which are usually simple things that will make an entire project now usable and sellable. In some cases I must go online to parts stores that are specifically designed for cigar box guitar parts. There are few but the ones that are out there they are doing quite a good job of accumulating the right parts and tools for cigar box guitar building. It is easy to see that saving a few small things for one time and taking care of them in one afternoon or weekend can mean a big difference in inventory. If you are not looking at them as inventory, I understand I consider my cigar box guitars a folk art piece as much as a homemade musical instrument. But like any art project you need supplies. Now some builders keep an ample supply of most every part you could imagine. Others will buy specific parts for a project pickups tuners bridge etc. I have always lived by the principle of scavenging parts. I keep a lookout on social media for project guitars that I can rob parts from. As in any adventure beware of the parts you are being sold, know what you are buying and what it should cost you.

It feels really good to get that package in the mail knowing that it will allow you to complete four or five projects. Now I know all of this can be solved with perfect timing and planning ahead and all that. If that is how you do it things that is fine but me I always end up with some ghost projects. Happy building.

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