Sunday, June 3, 2012

The 'Chippie'

A couple months ago, I found a Chippendale silver plated bowl on eBay, which I thought could be the body of a really cool guitar.

The 'Chippie' has been used, but not abused.  She is a little worn, but her body is as solid as a rock with curves in all the right places.  A bit tarnished, I suppose, but that's OK with me, 'cause she looks great.  She is smooth as silk, and comes alive at the slightest touch and encouragement.  She is not a bit bashful when you stroke her neck, and she purrs like a kitten or growls like a pit bull depending on how you treat her and if she's plugged in or not.

Well, now that I've introduced you to my new plaything, let's get on with what makes her so special.

She's a four-string electro/acoustic 25.5-inch-scale guitar tuned like the d-g-b-e strings on a standard guitar.   The action is very low, less than an eighth of an inch at the twelfth fret, which makes for simple playing.

The cherry headstock with walnut veneer is designed to emulate the design of the bowl, and the tailstock follows that design as well.  The nut and saddle are custom made from Corian, and the saddle sits on a bridge made from Spanish cedar to conform in style to the bowl design.

The neck is a hand contoured cherry extension of the headstock with a three part custom formed fretboard created from a walnut top section transitioning into a shorter cherry mid-section, and then on to an even shorter maple finale.  Hand formed frets are seated into the fretboard with small brass markers on the edge to indicate key fret positions.

The top is a thin sheet of maple laminated to a contoured ring that matches the bowl design .  A stylized sound hole is cut into the top to allow sound to acoustically escape the enclosure, and the resonance and sustain is very good for such a small enclosure.  A walnut veneer pick guard compliments the offsetting sound hole, and extends the fingerboard design onto the top.

Pop rivet grommets are inset into the top of the tailstock to guide the strings and to protect the tailstock from damage.  On the under side, the string ends are recessed for a clean appearance.  Maple strap buttons on either end of the neck underside finish off the exterior design.

Inside the bowl, I chose to install a pair of transducer pickups, which are attached to an output jack located just under the tailstock in a position that makes for comfortable insertion of an amp cord.

Speaking of an amp, this little lady sounds awesome when it's plugged in.

In addition to the custom sound hole in the top, I decided to drill smaller sound holes into the contoured outer rind, which further allows sound to escape the confines of the bowl.

Note how the ring design matches the contour of the bowl.  I thought this was necessary to give a little more life to my little lady.

This guitar is one of the more extended designs, but I am getting bored with simple cigar box creations, so I think I will continue to think outside the box.

The patina is so cool on this bowl that I had to leave it in it's original condition.  I polished it with a little guitar polish, but not enough to effect the tarnished appearance.

Not away from the use of cigar boxes, but on to more complex creations . . . at least that's what I'm thinking today . . . hell, my interest may change by tonight.   That's what makes this hobby so damn much fun . . . there are no rules.  I'm only restricted by my own imagination.

But, one thing is for certain now, I'm out of silver bowls, so I gotta move on to something else, and since I have more than 200 different cigar boxes in my shop, I'll probably create a couple more CBGs.

I hope you like what I've done with the tarnished ol' gal.


  1. Oh man, this is my favorite instrument of yours yet. Jess, this is REALLY wonderful looking. I'd love to hear it. Very very nice work.

  2. Thanks Shelley. You're too kind. How are things at the Flea going?