Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eddy's 3-String

HM2 Eddy Phouthaboun, a Navy Corpsman stationed at Bastion Hospital in sunny and sandy Afghanistan, recently received the San Francisco-themed guitar I made for him.

"We've been incredibly busy at the hospital lately," Eddy writes, "and it just just leaves me drained of all my energy.  I just want to go to sleep when I get off duty, but random loud speaker announcements prevent it."

"I love the CBG, and I've learned a couple songs already.  I have it with me today at work, and I plan on practicing during my breaks.  It gives me an excuse to get up and get outside to enjoy some fresh air and blistering sun, but it's well worth it.  Thank you again so much for the CBG, I love it."

Several days ago, I checked temperatures around the world and discovered that it was 115+ in the 'Stan, with no relief in sight.  And, I can only imagine how busy they are at Bastion, with the ongoing fighting insurgents, but my new friends NEVER complain about their jobs.  I think many of us could learn something from them.

Thanks, Eddy, and all the others, for what you are doing!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Swore I'd Never Write Anything Political, But the Current Debt Craziness Must Be Addressed

Please call your Senator(s) and Congressmen(women) to ask that they set aside their petty political differences, to do what is right for America.  They must raise the debt ceiling now, to avoid financial default.

This is not about Democratic or Republican blame games. It's about unilaterally DOING THE RIGHT THING! NOW!

Ask them to support the President's proposal, which will keep our Nation from debt default and financial collapse.


I wonder why it is so difficult for some politicians to grasp the concept of asking large corporations and wealthy Americans to pay their fair share?  Why shouldn't they be taxed appropriately, when compared to middle-class Americans.

It's not difficult to figure out - all you need is to be smarter than a fifth grader. 

Politicians are owned by big business, and controlled by lobbyists.

You gotta laugh to keep from crying!  So, enjoy what Warren Buffett (probably the most honest and intelligent wealthy American you'll ever meet) has to say about it . . .

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offered one of the best quotes I've heard in all this drama about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in five minutes," he told Becky Quick.  "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."

What a concept!  But, it will never happen!  The same incompetents who have screwed things up, would be the ones required to pass the law.

Oh well, a bit of humor to stall the tears, right.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's About Friendship

This post isn't about guitars or amps.  It's about a friendship that started nearly 65 years ago, when I was a first grader.

My friend Jim lived a couple blocks away and we were pretty much inseparable throughout our school days.  We did all the normal kid stuff, and then some, when in grade school.  We learned about girls and other fun stuff in junior high.  We made money delivering sheep manure for lawn fertilizer, when in high school.  We played sports, and even drank a beer or two, trying to become young adults.  But, the most memorable thing Jim recalls about our friendship was that I used to draw horses for him . . . lots of horses.  We each loved the nags, but Jim really did have a natural and keen equestrian interest.  To this day, so many years later, he still enjoys that interest, by raising world class Quarter Horses at his New Mexico home.

So, you're asking, where is this going?

Well, after high school, Jim and I went separate directions and I lost track of him, until just a few months ago, when we reconnected, after more than fifty years.  We now write each other often, and Jim recently reminded me of his appreciation for the drawings I did for him.  I really had no idea, but it is a nice feeling to know, that after all the years, he remembered and cared.

The drawing below, which Jim is holding, is the first I've done in years, and I did it especially for my friend.

It's about friendship!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Mess With An Old Gunny!

The Defense Department found that several branches of the military had too many non-commissioned officers and decided to offer an early retirement bonus. 

The DOD promised any military non-com, who volunteered for early retirement, a bonus of $1,000 for every inch measured in a straight line between any two points on his body.  The early retirees got to choose what those two points would be.

The first participant, an Army Staff Sergeant accepted the bonus and asked that he be measured from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.  He measured out at six feet  tall and walked away with a bonus of $72,000.

Next to accept the bonus was a Navy Petty Officer, who was a little smarter.  He asked to be measured from the tips of his outstretched hands to his toes.  He walked away with $96,000.

The third to take the early-out was a grizzly old Marine Gunnery Sergeant who, when asked where he would like to be measured, replied, "From the tip of my penis to my testicles, sonny!"

It was suggested by the officer administering the retirement bonus, that the Gunny might want to reconsider, explaining about the nice large payouts the previous two shorttimers had received.  But, the old Gunny insisted and they decided to go along with him, provided the measurement was taken by a Navy Medical Officer.

The Navy Doc arrived and instructed the Gunny to 'drop 'em', which the Gunny did.

The Doc placed a tape measure at the tip of the Gunny's weenie and began to work back.

"Dear Lord!", the Navy Doc cried, "Where are your testicles?"

The old Gunny smiled and calmly replied, "Afghanistan."

I love this country!
It's the government that scares hell outta me!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back At It

Summer always brings opportunity . . . to mow grass, water foliage, putter around the flower garden, paint the winter deterioration, cook out, and perhaps to enjoy a vacation or short getaway. 

And, all this gets in the way of my real fun . . . building guitars and amps.

But, yesterday I roughed out 50 guitar necks.  The bulk of the lot is walnut, but some maple, oak and cherry round out the assortment.  The final layout and design will come with the individual cigar box or, in some cases, my own  box design.  So, I'm back in the game, to heck watering.

There are a lot of options for final guitar design . . . the casual or rustic approach, to the more refined and 'finished' result.  I lean toward the 'finished' result, but that is only because I'm more comfortable in that arena. 

I'm sure I could do the 'rustic' thing just fine, but I'm having trouble getting my head around where to begin and what elements with which to work.  It seems pretty straight forward, especially after viewing what many builders display on a couple of the more popular web sites. 

But, I think if the result is to be acceptable to me, I cannot just slap tuners onto a slab of wood, which I stick into a cigar box with sound holes drilled into the surface, lay on a couple bolts for a nut and bridge, and feel good about what I've done.

Don't get me wrong!  I like the primitive look (especially the stuff I see on Cigar Box Guitars Australia), and I want to try it.  But, not today.  Maybe tomorrow, if tomorrow ever comes.

Don't ask me why I'm dancing around about it, I cannot tell ya!

Grammas Can Be A Hoot!

Years ago, I was bringing my wife to vist my grandmother.

 Grandma never remembered that I had visited her often, so she reminded me where she lived.

"You come-a da front door of da apartmenta.  I'm inna apartmenta 301.  There issa bigga panel at da fronta door.  Witha you elbow, pusha da button 301.  I willa buzza you in."

"Come-a inside, da elevator issa on da right.  Getta in, an witha you elbow, pusha 3."

"When-a you getta out, I'm-a on-a da left.  Witha you elbow, hit-a my bell."

"Grandma," I said, "That sounds easy, but why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?"

"What!, you come-a witha you hands empty?"

Grandpa's Know Best!

My grandfather was aging, and with that came certain discussions, which were sometimes uncomfortable.

He took me aside one day and said, "Sonny, I wanna' you lissina me!  I wanna' you to take-a my chrome-a plate .38 pistol, so you always remember-a me."

"But grandpa, I cried, I really don't like guns.  How about you leave me your Rolex watch instead?"

"You lissina me, boy!  Somma day, you gonna be runna da business, you gonna have a beautiful wife, lotsa money, a biga home, and maybe a whole lota bambinos."

"Somma day, you gonna come-a home and maybe finda you wife inna bed with another man.  Whatta you gonna do then?  Pointa to you watch and say, 'time up'?"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Must View!

Please view this presentation created by a 15-year-old girl, who has more character than many decades older.

Our troops need our support!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brittany's New Axe

The old adage, which proclaims, "It is better to give, than to receive", is true!  How do I know this?

Well, read the response from Brittany Saulsberry (a US Navy Corpsman stationed at Bastion Hospital in Afghanistan), which I received recently thanking me for making a guitar for her, and look at her photo . . . the question will answer itself.

I was very busy building other guitars and amps when Brittany asked for a guitar, so I promised her one, which I had made for my personal collection.  She enthusiastically said, "Yes".  I was relieved to be able to get something to her soon, and she was happy, too.  Read her response.

Hello Jess,

I got it finally.  I got it right when I made it back to the other base, coming from Chapel . . . I was so excited.  When I get on my own computer, I will email you pictures of me opening it and playing. 

A British officer already taught me a twelve bar.  He said that after a few times he is going to add in more for the song. 

Thank you so much, and thank you for being kind while I was sick (I wished her well when she was ill), I feel so much better and I have not stopped smiling.

I'm going to see if the shop personnel could make me a case for the guitar.

Well, you have a blessed night, and I will talk to you later.

Respectfully yours,
Hm3 Saulsberry

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'The Chief'

I mentioned a while ago in another post that I had purchased an old cathedral-style radio at a yard sale, and was going to use it for an amplifier.  Well, I decided not to chop it up.  But, the design of it is so cool that I decided to build a guitar in that design.

Here it is.

(The inspiration for the guitar design)

The project started with a concept, and finished with what you see here.  But, along the way, it was really interesting, especially since this build is the first from the ground up.  Everything from concept to completion is my own personal design and application.

It is a 4-string electro/acoustic tenor guitar with an on-board battery powered GuitarFuel amp harness and speakers (, which were supplied by my friend Ty.  There is also a headphone jack in the back panel, so the only person I annoy with my lousy playing is myself.  Ty encouraged me to do the on-board thing . . . I usually build the amp separately, but this is such a sweet application that I'm sure it is not my last.  And, it sounds awesome.  Thanks Ty!

I started with a drawing of the basic radio design and transferred it to a large piece of 3/32" maple for the front and back of the guitar. 

After cutting out the two pieces and opening the relief areas and sound holes; marking locations for the neck, pickup, speakers, etc., I covered all the openings with a dark brown fabric, which looks like wood.  I also cut an access opening in the back panel in the basic shape of the guitar body.  I need this to get to the electronics inside the body.

Then I commenced to install interior bracing and handmade purfling on which to cement the side pieces.  Once I had this done, I glued the front and back structure together.  The sides are made up of  one-piece of 1/16"  mahogany cut to give the body a 3-1/2" thickness.  This piece was cemented to the basic body structure, as was the back piece, and  voila, I had myself a 'real' guitar body.  The body was then finish filed and sanded to completion.

Next was the completion of the walnut neck, maple fretboard, and corian nut and saddle.  The walnut, maple, mahogany stock, and corian were supplied by my friend Matt, who owns a local counter top shop. 

The headstock was designed in the basic shape of the body with a very thin piece of balsa used to accent the design and to carry the TotalRojo logo.  After the pieces were cemented together, the shaping and finishing was done by hand, until I was satisfied with how it looked and felt in my hands.  Frets were added to the fingerboard, and the finished neck was laminated to the body.

The bridge is a piece of Spanish cedar designed in the shape of one of the body openings, on which the saddle and oak filled brass tube string retainer is laminated.  Inset into the bridge is a 1935 Indian Head nickle, which gives the guitar its name, 'The Chief'.

I chose a bass guitar pickup for this application, because of its compact size and design, and it works very well in this instance.

Gold tuners with wood grain knobs were installed in the headstock to adjust the strings over the 25.5 scale neck.  And, a custom designed brass string tree holds the strings in place, when riffing a hard blues number.

Finally, eight hand applied coats of poly, hand sanded between applications, finish off the guitar.

The A-D-G-B (5, 4, 3, 2) strings from a standard set of medium acoustic guitar strings are tuned D-G-B-D (open G tuning) for a bright and lively sound and tone.

The amp is fully adjustable from a mellow, earthy sound, to a quite loud and twangy presentation, and a lot of options in between.  This is very cool setup with the amp on board the guitar . . . no messing with a cable and separate amp.

If you like what you've seen and read, leave me a comment, or email me with your comments.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, July 4, 2011


The Kansas City Blues Society is pleased to present the first Kansas City Cigar Box Guitar Festival to take place Sunday July 31st, 2011 at BB’s Lawnside Blues & BBQ. Fun for the whole family, this event will feature musical performances by local artists Skaught Patterson, Shae Lee, Jason Vivone, Kevin M. Kraft with Wichita Sam Wood emceeing.

Courtesy of Cigar Box Nation.