X-0117D A Guitar prototype

Jan 7th, 2017

In late 2016 I started ordering parts and collecting tools to build a custom guitar of my own design. I came up with the idea through the need of having unique folk style instruments to play in my band Catchlight. I received a Seagull M4 for Christmas of 2015, and enjoyed using in at live shows. It wasn't long before I found limitations with the merlin because the guitar was a stick dulcimer (handheld), which is a diatonic instrument. I am now in the process of building a chromatic prototype “X-0117D” guitar that will be a mix of a handheld dulcimer and a cigar box guitar.

For the prototype I have bought main components to piece together for a test run. I have found a fully fretted fret board, a neck and tuning machines at cigarboxguitar.com. The body is a small wooden box from a craft store.

Neck joined to body

I have attached the neck to the body. So far I have learned that I will need at least a small table saw if I would like to make accurate work. I made a notch cut in the neck to fit the body with a scroll saw, at which it did not make a clean 90˚ cut. This caused problems with not making the neck flush with the top of the body. I corrected this the best I could with a file.

Jan 8th 2017

Tonight I mounted the fret board, tuning machines and the bridge. For the tailpiece I used a small surface hinge for a cabinet. I like this idea because it adds character to the project. I’m not sure if I will continue with this method or use a modified mandolin bridge. At first I was worried that the tailpiece will not be low enough to hold tension to the bridge, but I think it will work out.

Jan 9, 2017

Tonight I have finished the prototype and I am over all pleased with the outcome.

Complete design


It stays in tune and plays better than expected. I first tuned it to (E) (A) (E) thinking that I should stick to root notes and bar cords both of low and high register. Later I tuned to (D) (A) (D) and found this more comfortable and familiar because that is how I tune the dulcimer. Lately I’ve been jamming in (E) (A) (D) tune which is like the top three strings on a guitar. This plays great and I am thinking that this will mix the best with playing along with someone on a different instrument.

At first I wasn’t pleased with the tone but then I added a sound hole that made everything boom. I’m not sure about the through neck now, and I think that I will stop the neck at the body for the next prototype.


The surface hinge tailpiece has holes that are too large to stop the balls ends of the guitar strings from passing through. I had to basically tie them to the tail piece.

The tone is still a little lacking but I think that a solid bridge and better quality wood wound help.

I ended up not liking the scale and think that I should try a ukulele neck, or try my own fret scale.

The neck and string spacing seems a little wide but with the threaded rods that I used for the nut and bridge, I am able to adjust and experiment with that.

Jan 12, 2017 - Final thoughts

Overall I am very pleased with how the prototype outcome and I think that it was successful enough to continued experimenting with this project. Next I will use the same process to built a new prototype using a ukulele neck for a shorter scale test, and a (G) (B) (E) tuning like the bottom strings of a guitar.

If that is successful I will start prototyping the hand made custom body.

My long term plan is to offer two types of instruments. One, a long scale for rhythm guitar, and the other a shorter scale for lead.

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