There is concept called “Unnecessary Creation” where the idea is to make something on your own time, on your own terms, and with no other standard or expectation--except for your own. No rules, no deadlines, no critiques, and no real purpose except to enjoy the process. For me, this is….bliss. I can just feel the endorphins swirling around my brain as I work. What a pleasant break from the demands of my degree program.
My most recent unnecessary creation is Cigar Box Guitar #2 (CBG-2) which began with an eBay purchase of a pre-made Red Oak neck with Walnut laminates. I like the pointy headstock, because it looks slightly menacing. I sanded, stained, and glued a Poplar fretboard into place, and applied three coats of Tung Oil for the finish. Tung oil is awesome stuff and a recent discovery for me. It is now my preferred choice of wood finish. The box that serves as the guitar's body started out it's life as a “Diversion Book”. These are realistic looking books with hollow interiors designed for hiding valuables in plain sight. Diversion books have a long and interesting history and were the forerunners of today's book safes. I found my diversion book while poking around a re-sale shop last December after just completing CBG-1 for a school project. As most of my regular readers know my first CBG was a guitar that also qualified as an "Art Book". Or was it an Art Book that qualified as a guitar? Anyway, CBG-2 is a guitar that looks like a large and rather impressive book. There is no intentional pursuit of a book theme here, it just kind of happened that way. What I found at the re-sale shop was a good sized, well made, wooden box…that just happened to look like a book. How could I pass this up, right? Like my first guitar, CGB-2 also has an internal pick-up for amplification purposes. So it only seemed logical to name my book-that-looks-like-a-guitar, “Big Volume”.
Here are some photos of the build. No hidden panels or internal gadgetry as in CBG-1 but I did come up with an idea that I haven't seen anywhere else yet, after looking at hundreds of CBG images. My humble innovation was to continue the fret line around and over the top edge of the neck that faces the player. This is intended to allow the guitarist to see better when the instrument is laid across the lap and played with a slide. Small brass nails and screws were used to as fret markers in all the usual places. Brass studs were added to the book's cover to make it look a little more "top shelf", but also a little more rock & roll.
Although these are called cigar box guitars, so far I have yet to use an actual cigar box. I suppose I’ll get around to that eventually, but every project currently on the drawing board involves using some other box-like object for a resonating chamber. For example, CBG #3 will feature a vintage cedar humidor for the guitar's body. The humidor's interior is lined with copper sheeting that is loose in some places. With that particular combination of wood and metal, there could potentially be all kinds of interesting sounds produced when it gets played. I can hardly wait! I won't know how it will sound until I build it, and that's the fun part. I don’t have a clever name for this guitar yet, (Up In Smoke? Puff the Magic Dragon?) but that will come in time. I’m open to any suggestions.
In my life I've had many interests, a number of passions, but no real hobbies….until now. This kind of thing is just too much fun, and will hopefully keep me off the streets.