Black Dogs, Alternate Tunings, Led Zeppelin riffs, and Freebie Friday (on a Saturday)

From time to time, I do merch giveaways on the Crestguitars Instagram page. This weekend it’s a cool logo magnet that features a 3 String Headley Grange CBG that was the first guitar I built in 2019. It sold quickly, and I haven’t gotten my hands on another box since to do another.

Headley Grange CBG

Headley Grange was known back in the day for being the place where the Black Dog was hanging around the studio when Led Zeppelin was recording their 4th album, which was released in my birth year of 1971. They named track #1 after the dog, so he must’ve been a staple around the place. I don’t know if Jimmy Page ever played a CBG, but so many Zep classics flow easily on them, such as “When the Levee Breaks,” “In My Time of Dying” or “Dancing Days.” When setting up a CBG, the go-to tuning is usually G-D-G. I prefer D-A-D for its lower tone, and modern riffing. In this tuning, songs like “Kashmir” present themselves to the player. Add a chorus pedal to the mix, and turn the distortion up, and suddenly the bluesy CBG transforms to Arena Rock mode. Give it a try, but first, go to @crestguitars on Instagram to enter for a chance to win the merch giveaway. Drawing will be Sunday evening.

@crestguitars on Instagram to enter for a chance to win this cool CrestGuitars magnet

Thinking outside the box…

No, the title doesn’t refer to a typical clever motivational quote. Really, it’s all about the outside of the box when it comes to a cigar box guitar. Not trying to diminish the important acoustics or sustain produced inside box interiors, or which materials accept wood glue the best, but face it, we are all enamored with “The Box.” The novelty of the box is what draws people curiously out of their Strat or Flying V shaped comfort zones. That same novelty helps to rationalize a purchase when someone who owns “too many” guitars (some people actually say that) round out their collection with something quirky or different. When I choose boxes for my builds, a few things are critical: box size, overall sturdiness, and obviously box coolness factor.

A Java box currently in production, surrounded by a few boxes I picked up last week.

Size matters. Most CrestGuitars are a 24.75″ scale, which means I need a long enough box for proper bridge placement. Nothing looks worse than a bridge or tailpiece that sits on the edge of the box, and generally decreases the playability of the instrument. The width is important as well for easy knob and jack placement. The lid hinges or other strategies employed are also to be considered for an instrument that should be durable enough to be around for a long enough period of time until it’s owner no longer has the Blues.

Boxes that are at least 10 or 11 inches work best with this strike thru neck design.

Sturdiness… The boxes go thru alot of stress during a build. They get notched for necks, drilled, sanded, tweaked. They need to survive getting tossed around by the UPS guy en route. Sometimes, depending on the time of year, they go thru multiple climate and altitude changes shipping from cold Philly winter days to their new home in Equator- friendly Florida in January. Lastly, they need to be durable enough to not collapse under constant string pressure. An average ukulele would have nylon strings that wouldn’t have the type of stress that steel strings tuned in the ever popular GDG would.

This box checks all the boxes… Durable for building, perfect length, and beautiful art.

Coolness factor. Where do I even begin? Some people seek out the vintage boxes, whilst others want their preferred cigar brand. Some boxes ooze cool, with a very high-end nightclub vibe. Others utilize traditional wood furniture quality finishes. Then there are the traditional paper-covered with some beautiful artwork. Even the older beaten up boxes serve a purpose for those looking for a road worn look. So many choices. Some builders throw the kitchen sink all over them in an attempt to woo guitarists with bells and whistles. I do feel this compromises the overall vibe of the box. Sure, guitars are built to be played and heard, but visually a cigar box guitar has so much mojo, and character. I do try to keep things minimalistic on the face of the box, and maybe add some embellishments elsewhere: labelled headstocks, metal corners, string grommets, shiny hardware. People do seem to like the accents, especially when they don’t draw attention away from “The Box.”

Classy Cohiba Connecticut box

In the beginning

As a long time working guitarist in the Philly/ South Jersey area, much of my guitar maintenance and repairs were on the job DIY experiences. My basement and garage were never equipped for pro- finishing techniques, so it was typically disappointing doing paint jobs on usual Strat shaped bodies. I would Google guitar projects to find something more suitable and became enamored with the Cigar box phenomenon. My first few were pretty crude, but found that each was better than the last. Now, a few years later, with many sold I can say that we are doing something right. Devising a brand name was easy enough, as my section of Philly is called Lawncrest, and my vacation spot in New Jersey is Wildwood Crest. So “Crest” is home, and home away from home for me.

Welcome!

Hello, all. This is Paul from CrestGuitars. As if I didn’t have enough things to do, I decided to try my hand at a semi regular blog. You can find CrestGuitars content all over the internet, via Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube. You can shop for CrestGuitars instruments and merch on Reverb, Etsy, and http://www.crestguitars.com, but most of those sites are primarily gear, as it should be, but with very little “get to know us” content. Hopefully this blog can fill that void and become a good resource as well.