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Cigar Box Guitar Neck: which sort of the wood?

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Cigar Box from Honduras

Why Cigar Box Guitar (CBG)?

Tired of churning out endless Fender clones? You’re not alone.
Hi there. I’m starting another project. This time it will be CBG – Cigar Box guitar.
Building a cigar box guitar is a fantastic way to unleash your creativity and craft a truly unique instrument. But when it comes to the neck, selecting the right wood can make a big difference in both playability and sound.

Maple: The Traditional Choice, But Not Always Easy

Many guitarists swear by maple for its strength, stability, and tonal properties. However, maple can be a challenging wood to work with, especially for beginners. It requires sharp tools and precise woodworking skills to shape and finish effectively.

Learning from My Mistakes: Why Pine Isn't Perfect

In my initial CBG build, I opted for pine as a beginner-friendly alternative. Pine is certainly easy to carve and shape, but it has a crucial drawback: softness.  The tension from the strings can easily warp a pine neck, leading to intonation problems and playing discomfort.

Poplar: The Goldilocks Choice for Cigar Box Guitar Necks

After some trial and error, I discovered poplar as the ideal wood for CBG necks. Here’s why:

  • Strength: Poplar is a hardwood with enough density to resist warping from string tension. This ensures your CBG stays playable for years to come.
  • Workability: Poplar is significantly easier to work with than maple. It cuts cleanly, sands smoothly, and accepts glue and finishes well, making it perfect for beginners.

The Bottom Line: Poplar for the Win!

While maple offers exceptional performance, poplar provides a fantastic balance between strength, workability, and affordability.  This makes it the ideal choice for most CBG builders, especially those getting started in this rewarding hobby.

Next Steps:

With the right neck wood in hand, you’re well on your way to crafting a fantastic CBG! Stay tuned for further articles as we explore other key components and construction techniques for your unique cigar box creation.
That’s what I’ve got from it.

P.S. But after you have passed the beginner age in building the CBGs and when you have collected good enough tools, you certainly have to switch from the poplar to maple 🙂.
And if you are lazy and want a professional look of the instrument, you may try a StewMac Cigar Box Kit.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you I intend to buy a readymade neck and fret board and have a choice of wood. I will now have the maple, ready to go. When fitting an external pick up is it better to be near the bridge or neck.

    1. Hi Colin. Thank you for the question. As a rule of thumb closer to the neck is good if you want to have a “fat” sound. Closer to the bridge will give you a more twangy sound. I hope this helps.

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