Cigar Box Guitar Build

Back in August of 2015, I travelled to Maintoba to take a guitar building course and this was the result: 20150821_190241 Mid

It was my first time building a guitar and it turned out well but I had guidance.

Recently, I decided to try and put one together on my own but I figured I’d start with something smaller. Last weekend, I was in my local music supply store and found a cigar box guitar kit. I thought this would be perfect so I bought it.

I didn’t have time to build it right away, I waited until this weekend to give it a try.

One thing that I considered was the fact that I play left-handed and I was pretty sure this was a right-handed kit. No matter, I wasn’t planning on keeping it for myself, I was going to sell it.

Something else I considered was that on the box, it said the kit could be assembled in an hour. I wanted to test that out and see if I could do it in that time.

So this morning, I brought the box into my workshop and unloaded the contents, like so: DSC_0013

I had a better idea of what the setup was going to be after I saw the parts. I didn’t know a lot about cigar box guitars but I knew there were two basic types: regular ones that are played like regular guitars and ones played as slide guitars. It was looking like this was a slide guitar, which wasn’t really what I was expecting. Also, I’m not really a slide player but I thought I’d give it a try. This guitar isn’t for me, anyway.

The first thing I had to do was install the ferrules. These are metal sleeves that keep the ball end of the string in on the bottom of the guitar and keep the strings from digging into the wood. They had a front and a back so I used a rubber mallet to install them. A rubber mallet is softer so if I miss, it’s not going to dent the wood. Also, it has a wider head so I don’t have to worry about hitting the ferrules dead on.

One the other end of the neck, at the head of the guitar, I installed the bushings for the tuning pegs. The setup for the strings was a little different than what I was used to, after it was done, it looked like so: DSC_0018

I ran into difficulties: there were pilot holes drilled for the tuning machine screws but for one thing, they were too small and they didn’t line up exactly. It was hard turning the screws so I wound up grabbing my drill and making the holes a little bit bigger. The box said you just needed a screwdriver to assemble the guitar but I anticipated I might need more tools so I had my drill on hand. Drilling the holes helped, they were still misaligned but at least I was able to get the screws all the way down.

They also provided screws to guide the guitar strings to the tuning machine. That was something I hadn’t encountered before.

The next step was to attach the neck to the body, this also proved to be difficult. I had to open up the cigar box and line up the holes that were drilled into the top with the holes in the bottom of the neck. There was no easy way to position everything so I laid the cigar box on its side and lined up the bottom holes and started installing the screw. I had to turn the screw pretty hard for a long time and I couldn’t really see how I was progressing. I think the problem, once again, was small pilot holes. The first screw went in okay but the second one took forever, my arm and shoulder were actually sore from turning the screwdriver so hard and so long.

After that ordeal, it was time to put the strings on. This is a 3-string guitar and I wondered what kind of strings they would provide. They’re basically the equivalent of the 2 thinnest strings on a regular acoustic and the thickest one. Before I tightened the strings, I installed a bolt that they supplied as a nut and the floating bridge.

After it was assembled and tuned up, it looked like this: DSC_0020

With the setbacks and stopping to take pictures of my progress, it took me about 2 hours to assemble this guitar.

I tried to hold and play it as a right-handed guitar, but it felt awkward since I’m left-handed. I can play a regular right-handed guitar but it’s difficult because I have to use the opposite hand to press down the strings and reverse all my finger positioning. It takes a lot longer for me to play anything but I can do it; with a slide I found I couldn’t play at all.

So I flipped it around played it left-handed and it felt a lot better. I couldn’t think of anything to play so I messed around and came up with something of my own. The result can be seen in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bG9eFLnpVs&feature=youtu.be

I think it’s not bad considering: 1) I’m not a slide guitar player, 2) I’m playing a right-handed guitar upside down, 3) it’s missing 3 strings that I’m used to having, and 4) I’m not a blues player.

Overally, I’m pretty happy with the result. I ran into problems but I thought I might and I was able to deal with them. Building a full-sized guitar gave me some experience and prepared me for that.

This experience also gave me a chance to use my new camera. I bought it about a month ago and I haven’t used it very much. It’s a little more advanced than the cameras I’m used to using so documenting this experiment gave me a chance to play around with my camera and get used to it.

I took one last picture of myself with the guitar: DSC_0033

So there you have it.

I’m going to try this again. There are other kits available, I’m thinking of getting one that’s more like a regular guitar. Basically, one that you can push the strings down onto the fretboard, you can’t do that with this one because it doesn’t have frets and the strings are raised a lot higher. You can buy other parts to customize them too, that should be fun to try.

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Travelling Man

As I’m packing for my vacation, I can’t help but be reminded of the trip I took for work a couple of months ago.

The first thing about that trip to Calgary was that it was my first time flying in about a decade. I had forgotten how it felt, especially the take-off. Accelerating that fast kind of freaked me out a little at first. As we left the ground and started climbing, I’d pretty much gotten used to it.

As we were landing, we encountered quite a bit of turbulence, which I didn’t like at all. While I did get used to it a little bit, I remembered that, oh yeah, I’d always hated turbulence. I was wishing that they had handle bars on the backs of the seats so we had something to grab onto for dear life.

The second notable thing was I’d been reminded what we’re allowed to travel with and, more importantly, what we’re not. On my way through security coming back, I put my keys in the tray and passed them through:

Keyring

When I got to the other side and picked up my keys, the security guard asked what I had hanging off of it. I showed her and she noticed the pocket knife. I had completely forgotten I’d had it and she told me I wouldn’t be able to go through unless I handed it over. So rather than explain that it’s something I carry just for convenience (you never know when you might need to open a package, after all) I took it off.

I teach a transportation security course, so this gave me something to tell students about. They don’t take chances, no matter how remote the possibility.

While I don’t really need to have it, it is handy to have. I thought I had replacements at home but couldn’t find any. Thus began the search for another pocket knife. I thought I’d gotten them from the Dollar Store so I went back there but couldn’t find any. After searching high and low, I finally found something similar but it was a little bigger and I found that it wouldn’t always stay closed, which was not safe for keeping in my pocket.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, when looking for something else, I found a replacement. It was buried in a junk drawer, forgotten about and was placed back on my keyring immediately.

Now that I’m preparing to fly again, I’ve taken it off. It doesn’t matter that it was never intended to inflict harm or that it would probably be almost impossible to do so if, for whatever reason, I actually did intend to do so; it’s best just to leave it behind.

There’s that, plus I can’t count on finding a replacement if it gets taken away, so here it will stay. Best not to take chances.

ADDENDUM

Home Hardware is closing down here in Kitimat. That’s sad for the town, great for us shoppers!

Yesterday, I went in for the second time since I learned of their closing sale. I picked up a contraption that heats water really quickly, even faster than a tea kettle. I saw it about a week earlier, when everything was 33% off, and the original selling price was just under $100.

I decided to pass on it and I vowed that if it was still there the next time I went it, I’d grab it. Good thing I did, because when I went in yesterday it was 50% off so I got for less than $50. I tried it out and found that it’s awesome. I don’t drink coffee and rarely drink tea, even though I do enjoy tea a lot.

The problem is the wait for tea kettles to heat up, then being left with a lot of leftover water as I usually only have one cup. That, plus the fact that it’s boiling hot. I’ve always hated hot beverages and whenever I make tea I usually wait about 20 minutes for it to cool down enough so I can drink it without burning my tongue.

Not only does this water dispenser heat water quickly (in less than 90 seconds), it’s hot, not boiling hot (if I wanted something boiling hot, I’d drink a cup of magma). I still have to wait a little while for it to cool down, but not as long as before. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it and I’m drinking more tea than ever.

When I went up to the counter to pay for it, I noticed some of these on the wall behind the counter:

Black Keyring Pocket Knives

They were there all along and I never even noticed them. I knew I wanted to get some, but one thing I had to decide was: how many? I quickly decided on four.

I like even numbers (you down with OCD? Yeah you know me!) and two seemed like too few and six felt like overkill. This should cover me for the next decade, or the next four trips through airport security, whatever comes first.

The only other thing to decide on was the color. When I got them from the Dollar Store, I had no choice in color. They came in packs of two: one yellow, one orange. This time I had a couple more options so I channeled my inner Morgan Freeman and said in my mind…

“And yes, Mister Wayne, it does come in black.”

Life’s pretty good for Ab right about now.

Movies That Need To Be Made: Part 1

I spend a significant amount of time watching movies so I’ve seen a lot. Lately I’ve been thinking, “what haven’t I seen that I’d like to see?”

So here’s a list of ideas that, in my opinion (if done right), would make for a good movie or TV series.

Battlefield Earth 2
Battlefield Earth

Originally intended to be a 2-part movie, the first movie sucked so hard they never bothered to make the second one. Bad movies fascinate me, and I watched the first part out of sheer, morbid curiosity. It was every bit as awful as I’d heard; certainly one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

Considering this, I envision a deliberately campy sequel; something so bad, it’s good. Nobody sets out to make a bad movie, but what if someone actually tried? Would they be able to purposely make something as horrendous as the first Battlefield Earth movie?

Or if someone were to actually take a serious approach, it could work as a reboot if it had more of a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior kind of feel and without John Travolta chewing up all the scenery. And the rasta-Klingon costumes. And the psychedelic disco lighting. Oh, and keeping the camera straight might help too.

Dr. Doom
Doctor Doom

He appears in the new Fantastic Four movie that’s in the works. What he’s going to look and sound like, I don’t know.

What I do know is that he was miscast in the previous FF movies (for a character that should be as imposing as Darth Vader, I found him as menacing as a bag of chips). I mean, his name is Victor von Doom; he should live up to it.

I’d love to see this character get his due; he deserves it.

So far, there haven’t been any movies featuring a supervillain as the main character (aside from The Suicide Squad, which is a team-up movie).

Maybe the opposite can happen: superheroes gang up against him. FF, Avengers, X-Men Vs Dr. Doom.

Think about that.

Gandalf
Gandalf 2

First came the Lord of the Rings movies, then came the Hobbit. Since they’re going backwards in time, what if they showed us the life of Gandalf up until the time of the movies?

While the LOTR books and the Hobbit have been covered, there is more source material to draw from. J.R.R. Tolkein also wrote Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion and the History of Middle Earth books, all of which have information on the origins of Gandalf and the Istari.

Perhaps Sauron could be included. He could be the main character, the story could explore his origins and his conflict with Gandalf.

Moon Knight
Moon Knight

This was one of my favorite comic book characters growing up.

His story: Marc Spector becomes the embodiment of Egyptian moon god Khonshu and also takes on alternate identities to help him fight crime.

I think he would fit the dark tone that a lot of comic book movies are incorporating today.

There apparently was a TV series in the works but I’ve heard nothing about it. If it doesn’t happen, maybe a movie can be made.

Out of all the comic book characters that have not been represented on the small or big screen, I feel he’s the most deserving.

Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler

A cool character who was portrayed very well by Alan Cumming in the X-Men movies.

I’ve heard that Nightcrawler will be in the next X-Men movie but will be played by a different actor. While that’s something to look forward to, the mysterious Kurt Wagner could be deserving of his own movie.

The solo movie would, of course, need to feature the Judas Priest song of the same name. “Nightcrawler, beware the beast in black, Nightcrawler.” There’s a classic metal riff in that song, it would fit perfectly.

Unfortunately, they would not be able to call it Nightcrawler, since a totally-unrelated movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal was released with that name in 2014. How rude.

I guess they’ll just have to call it: MARVEL’S Nightcrawler.

The Punisher
Punisher
The first time this character appeared in a movie, he was played by Dolph Lundgren. Frank Castle, the man who becomes the Punisher, has black hair and is usually unshaven; Lundgren is blonde. They dyed Lundgren’s hair black but couldn’t have him with blonde stubble so their solution was to paint black stubble onto Lundgren’s face. This is the exact opposite of painting over Cesar Romero’s mustache so he could play the Joker in the 1960’s Batman TV show.

Face: meet palm.

There have been two other films made in recent years, and while I found them passable, I felt like they didn’t quite hit the mark. The Punisher is one of the most badass comic book characters ever created and has yet to be given the attention that he should get.

A couple of years ago, I was driving with some co-workers and we saw this one guy walking down the street that seemed to think he was pretty tough. One of my co-workers made a comment to that effect and I said, “well, he is wearing a Punisher t-shirt, so there’s that.” My co-worker asked me, “who’s the Punisher?”

I was in disbelief. Obviously, the average person has no idea who this character is, and they should. A good movie could fix that. How many people knew anything about Iron Man a decade ago? They made some great movies about him and now he’s a household name.

This character deserves to be done right.

PS – in the Dr. Doom movie, they need to recreate this cover:
Secret Wars - Ten Cover Cropped

Now that would be badass.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post.