Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cigar Tasting

This is Miguel (Torano Cigar Company) and me enjoying ourselves at the monthly cigar 'tasting' event hosted by Ed Paxson owner of Woodland Cigars at Delaware, Ohio.  This was my first time there, but it will not be my last.  Ed's stories and John busting Jim's chops kept the evening very lively.  Thanks Ed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gusle Bow On Way To UK

 A lady from the UK happened onto my site last week, while looking around for a bow with which to play her Gusle.

I had created one for myself several months ago to favor the Gusle I traded for with Carlton Gill-Blyth.

Jade Buck asked me to create a similar bow using a ram's head as a design, which would match the headstock on her instrument.

The bow is handmade from poplar wood, and the ram's horns are carved from a piece of Spanish cedar that is used for guide strips inside the cigar
boxes I use in building guitars.

Horsehair strands are the 'strings' for the bow, and it is held in place on either end of the bow by small button pegs I created from dowel material I had laying around.

I applied a little soft resin (they call it soft, but it's hard as a walnut shell) and tried it out on my Gusle.  The sound is really morbid, but that is the the musical platform that makes the Gusle interesting.  The instrument, which is a product of Serbia/Croatia/etc., is played to accompany story telling, which usually has to do with hardship and tragedy experienced in that culture and region of the world.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I'm always scouting around for places to pick up cigar boxes and I've been fortunate enough to discover really cool off-the-beaten-path cigar shops.  My friends Jeff at Burning Leaf and Ed at Woodland Cigars were willing to trade me boxes for a guitar they could display in their shops, so that helped the inventory in my shed.

While my wife and I were eating at our favorite Columbus deli, I happened to see a small ad on the front page of an entertainment tabloid, which announced the locations for House of Cigar, another cool place I discovered.

On our way, I stopped to check out the place.  More really cool boxes for future CBG masterpieces, right?  Well, it was more than I expected.  They have outta sight cigar boxes, and after the lady behind the counter learned what I do with the treasures I pick up, she wanted me to create a guitar for her daughter.

So, here it is:   An electric six-string with a Tatuaje cigar box for a body and a Fender Strat neck to stretch it out.

This is for a girl, so I wanted it to be a little less 'in your face' design.  I decided on letting the original box  (red color from the factory) carry the design, with simple hand striped accent.  The name 'Darine' came from the woman requesting that I paint her daughter's name on the top of the body.  Again, simplicity seemed to be the way to go.

A single coil magnetic pickup with on-board volume control broadcasts sound, which is about as simple as it gets.


A couple weeks ago, I got a call from a Jimmy Barnhill in Birmingham, AL.  He had bumped into my site and after seeing 'Plum Crazy' (the six-string I use for my business card logo), he just had to have it.  Sorry, I said, "It's gone.  But, I can create something similar."  We kicked ideas around and he settled on a three-string electric with mag pickup and pinstriping on the face, and he wanted my logo as big as possible on the back.

I chose a out-of-production Tatuaje cigar box for the body (I got several of these rare creatures rat holed for  future builds), because they are just the right size for a guitar and the basic design is clean and easy to work with. They're just cool looking boxes and they resonate very well.

A red oak neck with Spanish cedar lamination on the headstock kick off this little devil. The headstock is a reduced version of a Strat, so it will fit well with the overall design of the 24.5-inch scale three-string.  The fretboard is oiled Ziricote wood with hand dressed stainless frets.  The nut and saddle are Corian.  The bridge and tailstock string retainer are hand formed Ziricote to match the fretboard.  Sealed Gotoh style tuners stretch the strings to an open G tuning.  And, the magnetic pickup is a hand wound number created by my friend Roger Berry of Hazelhurst, MS.  The grain in the exotic Ziricote wood is magnificent, and it's very hard wood, so perfect for a fretboard.

The body is sprayed with  black enamel, and the four-color pinstripe job on the face of the body is hand painted (at 72, I guess I still have a steady hand when I need it).  Light and dark magenta base colors with teal outline and gold accents are complimentary and look pretty good on the black background.  The logo on the back of the body is laminated onto a thin piece of maple ply, cut out on my scroll saw, and glued off the surface to give a three-dimensional effect, which I think looks pretty good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Skull Pickup Design

A couple weeks ago, I sent custom wound magnetic pickups to my Irish buddy Carlton, and he was so enthusiastic about them he asked me to create a special one-of-a-kind skull design.  Of course a volume pot and output jack had to be added, because Carl cannot solder without burning his fingers (so he says).  q;-)

After noodling it around for a while and looking at a few illustrations, I settled on something I thought might work.  The design had to look like a skull in all its horrid glory, but it had to be drawn to size so that it would accommodate the magnet posts without spoiling the overall design.

So, I chose to draw a skull with big eye sockets and a nose cavity large enough to hide the posts, but to still allow the proper string spacing locations.  But, it had to look right -- sunken eye sockets, cranial cracks, elongated teeth, and a general disgusting distorted appearance.  The width of the pickup is about 3", which is  average, and the depth is about the same, which is greater than usual designs, but it looks great on a guitar top, so it's OK.

A bleached white skull just didn't do it for me as a cigar box guitar accessory, so I decided to stick with a dark stained wood bobbin top, which I hand painted with black accents to create the effect I think Carl was expecting.  There's nothing more creepy than black eyes and nose cavities in a stylistic skull drawing.  The magnet posts are hidden with the paint so as not to detract from the overall design (the paint does not distort or displace sound).

Take a look, and if you cannot live without a cool custom-designed guitar pickup at a fair price, send me a note (contact me on this site) and I'll fix you up.