My First Electric CBG: Edmund, The Count of Monte Cristo
My first electric CBG took a couple weeks to build. After building Mr. Punch, my first fretted CBG, I wanted to build an electric. Overall, I'm satisfied with the outcome and now I have a vision for future guitars.
First the specifics:
--red oak fret board in the 25" scale (typical Gibson)
--Monte Cristo Blanco box
---single coil pick up with wood cover and wood guard
---red oak bridge and nut
--- 1/4 female jack
---no volume or tone pots
--- my favorite modified hinge tail piece
The process was fairly straight forward. The neck was made early, before I actually planned on making the electric model. The fret board was my second completed one--again red oak since I had success with the first one. The box seemed a natural---everything light colored just spoke to me.
The tricky thing was making changes for the pick up. The pick-up is deep enough that the neck assembly had to be modified inside the box. I use red oak supports beneath the neck to keep it from bending --see the Mr. Punch entry for an example. In order to make room for the pick-up, I made a cut that pretty much separated the maple neck into two pieces. Once I did the cut, I was worried about the integrity of the neck. I solved this concern by making two red oak supports that were glued in place on the side of the neck, The key for addition support was to make the supports with the wood grain running perpendicular to the neck grain, hence better support. It all worked out fine.
The only other challenge was the additional cut in the box top. Since I had no experience at all with pick-ups, I ballparked where I thought it should go. It seemed fine.
The set up was a bit of a challenge. Once again it taught me a lot. After I glued in the nut and cut my bridge, which is much thinner than the Mr. Punch bridge, I found I was having a problem with the frets. When I pressed down on the fifth fret, the sixth made contact as well. The result was no fifth sound (essential) but two frets making the sixth. I thought the sixth fret may have been too high. I tried to reseat it in the groove. No luck. Next, I recut the sixth fret location and reset the fret. No luck.
I studied the fret board a bit. The nut was higher than the bridge still. Hmmmm. What if that were the problem? I thought. What the hell! I thought why not because if it wasn't that, the neck and fret board were a complete waste.
Here was the lesson. I filed the nut grooves for the strings, lining them up with the pick-up. I make decent grooves. The strings' action was downhill to the bridge now. I tried the fifth and sixth frets. Bingo! It worked fine. A little more filing on the nut and in the appropriate places on the bridge and it was nearly a finished set up.
The lesson here was rich with implications for not just CBG construction: Don't panic. When things are nearly finished, sometimes it seems all is lost. Although it could be, don't overreact. Relax into the process and study the trouble. Then act with the idea that if it doesn't succeed you have already suffered the loss. The action will work or not. Just try. Sometimes it may not work. It is actually lost without an action. The action is simply an attempt. If you screw up, you have lost nothing at all because it was already a loss.
Obviously, the same situation applies across life. Loss is not completely known until it has been studied. Deciding too quickly will destroy what you want. Take action after assessing the situation. See what happens. Try not to despair.
Back to the build: The last step was checking intonation and then adjusting the pick-up. I learned how to adjust the pick-up. It is simple and involves two screws.
And Edmund was complete!
Here's how he sounds:
Improvements for the next electric CBG:
--Volume and Tone Pots