SILVERWARE SINGER HYBRID BOX GUITAR
Thought I'd share. This is my newest build, the Silverware Singer. As its name implies it's made from a large silverware box (measures 16 x 11 x 3.5 inches). Not a small git.
THE BACKGROUND. For a very long time I have been wanting an instrument with special properties. I like the versatility of an electric guitar, but I have played classical (nylon string) folk most of my life. Classical guitars have a wider 2"-wide neck (as opposed to standard electric 1 5/8"), which allows for more finger-room. I also wanted the hollow body effect of an acoustic guitar. Decided to keep it simple and rustic-looking, mixing modern and ancient on the same instrument.
So this is my "classical electric acoustic" solution. The Singer has a 2 1/8" wide neck, 25.5" scale, dual FlatCat™ pickups, two volume, two tone, 3-way switch and an active digital 5-voice control. It can play anything from mellow blues to concert acoustic to overdrive metal at the turn of a knob.
Included 6 large acoustic holes for sound transmission. Not sure if they help the sound any. Without mathematical calculations or a lot of experience, difficult to tell exactly how to set up sound holes. I like the finished look at least, and the sound doesn't skunk, so worked out okay. The different-size dual FlatCats do a nice job for the electronics. I wound up wishing I'd put the silver digital control knob just a bit further south or up in a corner just for aesthetics, but as close as it looks, all knobs are fully functional and easy to access.
THE NECK and fretboard are solid oak, reinforced with a 1/8" x 1/2" x 15" steel rod mounted vertically. Routed a slot in the top surface (hidden by the fretboard, put in a bit of poly-resin to fill in the gaps, then inserted the steel. Gorilla-glued the fretboard over that, flat-clamped it and let it dry a good 24 hours.
Result: a perfectly flat freboard and neck that will not warp. Learned that trick from an old Martin acoustic (and verification from other CBG builders that it works well). Not sure why Martin ever moved away from that method (shipping weight? Expense?). All I can say is the balance of the guitar is excellent, the overall weight isn't bad at all (the steel rod isn't thick or long enough to be heavy), and nothing short of an elephant sitting on it is likely to budge that steel-reinforced neck.
The backside of the box is screwed onto the front. With the back off we can see the internals-- not as big a rats nest as it appears. Wires are twisted, gathered and bound to help eliminate RFI and noise. Since I don't do this degree of wiring all the time was a bit tricky to figure out, but suddenly just popped into my head how it all fit in. Soldered it up, worked first time. I give all credit to God joining me in the project (He was invited, regularly), as my remaining brain cells surely aren't up to this kind of stuff these days.
The head stock was intentionally left rough, no finish-sanding. I enjoyed the effect the rough sander left on it and imagining how it would look once oiled, decided to leave it. Used a sanding sealer, then Tru-Oil as the finish, 3 coats, a few hours dry between coats and then several days to final dry hardness before hardware installation. I enjoy the final two-tone effect.
I carved the tuners by hand from a solid block of titanium.
Kidding. It was just tungsten.
I needed to set the tuners just a little further apart (it looked fine on paper...), but none of them touch and it leaves plenty of room for tuning, even with a tuning-handle. So turned out well. NOTE TO SELF: remove the shipping plastic from tuner faces prior to taking the photo.
THE END RESULTS
The wood of a silverware box is too thick to form the resonant surface of a thin-wood standard acoustic. As a result it sounds similar to an off-the-shelf hollow body electric, no better, no worse. I was hoping for a more full, rich tone, but acoustically it sounds pretty much as one would expect from a large box. It does have a larger, more full tone than a standard CBG.
Electrically, hubba hubba. The different-size FlatCats do very well and that 3-way switch along with the 5-voice digital board gives it 15 distinct voices (plus the tone knobs). Hook it up to an amp and it has that special Delta sound that a solid body just can't achieve. It sounds like a 6-string electric CBG, but larger and fuller. That was my goal, goal met. Can't ask for much more.
If I were to do this again I would probably remove the front of the box and replace it with a spruce or cedar surface to improve the acoustics. But truth is, a box is not going to provide as good a sound chamber as say, a poly-bowl Ovation, under any circumstance. But I can still play it acoustic and enjoy decent sound.
The neck being hand made can be adjusted to my particular grip. Post-build that's my next project: to whittle down the back of the neck to precise comfy playing. All in all an interesting experience that resulted in a unique hybrid instrument. Next project: custom solid body made from Purple Heart and Oak.