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Posts Tagged ‘Diddley Bow

Another Diddley Bow

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This is my latest project, another Diddley Bow (one stringed cigar box guitar). Construction wise, this is basically the same as the last one I made.

The story behind this one is, that my mother has a friend, who has a son, who collects cigar boxes; apparently he has hundreds of them. My mom’s friend took one of the boxes without him knowing and asked my mother if I would make a guitar for him, thinking it would be a neat thing to add to his collection, though to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t play guitar at all or know about cigar box guitars. So, this was made as a gift for him. The thing is though, that I was given the box like two years ago and just made the guitar now. Oops. I lost motivation to make these for a while, and just generally have been busy, so I just kept putting it off until recently. Seeing the box sitting on my work bench for all this time finally wore me down I guess.

The box is a cheap cardboard one, which I usually wouldn’t make a guitar out of. For a decoration it works just fine though.

I do really like the label and design. Owls are cool. The little ones perched on cigars around the outside edge are a neat touch. The inside is neat too. Cigar boxes typically have really cool labels on the inside. I think it’s because they would be sitting open in a cigar store to display the cigars so it made for a better presentation, but that’s just a guess and I’ve never researched it to find out for sure.

It says “Invincible¬†White Owl” on the inside” but only “White Owl” on the outside. If it’s really invincible, I’d think that’s a good selling point and it should be plastered all over the box!

Quality wise, my workmanship here isn’t that great. The piece of wood I used wasn’t the best and I didn’t pay as close attention to detail as I should have when making it. I didn’t install frets; considering it’ll likely never be played it wasn’t worth the effort, but I did still notch the neck so the reference points are there and it looks better. Overall I do think it looks okay, but it isn’t as nice as it should be.

It does play, and sounds so-so. I didn’t record a video and my mom has already picked it up so I won’t have a chance to any more. I do hope the recipient likes it and feel bad for taking so long to do it. This is the last guitar that I’ve promised to someone and I don’t intend to take on any more requests unless something really special comes up. I do have anther guitar that’s roughly half done under work (started that one a couple years ago, too) and have some fresh ideas for other new ones, so I think I’ll keep building while my motivation’s up. Stay tuned…

Thanks a lot for reading and happy pick’n!


Written by Jim

March 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

A Diddley Bow & Bottle Neck Slide

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For Christmas this year I made a diddley bow as a gift for my sister, her husband, and their four boys. A diddley bow is a single stringed instrument, typically played like a guitar, or a slide guitar that you would lay across your lap. You can make them as fancy or as basic as you like. Do a google search and you’ll find all kinds; some including electric pickups and intricate decoration, others as simple as a string stretched over a board.

I had never made one before and decided to do this rather last minute to give them as a gift. It took about a week to do, working a bit in the evenings, which is pretty quick for me. I figured, having only one string, it’d be easy enough for even the least musically inclined among them to be able to get some sort of tune out of. As you can see, it doesn’t have frets, so it’s best played with a slide (see further below), though you can still get notes out of it by holding the string down with your fingers. They all seemed to like it and my sister has since told me it gets picked up and played with a lot, so I’m really pleased that they enjoy it.

Here are some pics:

I think the bridge is a key for winding clocks. I found it in a bin at an antiques store a year ago.

The fret markers; I only marked the odd and 12th frets.

So they’d have a slide to use with it, I made [well, sort of] one of those too. I’ve seen bottle neck slides online and at festivals and have always wanted to try making one. I have some old wine bottles collecting dust in my basement, so gave it a go. It took me three of four tries until I was able to do it without cracking the neck, but finally got it right.

It’s a cool process, first you etch a line around the neck, then hold the neck up to the etched line in boiling water for a few minutes, then immediately move it to ice water, and, when done right, the glass cracks through along the etch line. Finally, just polish off the broken edge (I used a Dremel) and you have a slide. There are many good videos on YouTube if you’re curious enough to look.

No video of this guitar, I half forgot, half didn’t have time to do one, but it isn’t anything special, just a single stringed CBG really.

Thanks a lot for reading, happy playing!

Written by Jim

January 13, 2018 at 8:28 pm