First featured builder for 2015!

Featured Backyard Luthier

Roger Burchett, New Zealand

I retired from business and took up woodwork as a retirement hobby about 4 years ago. Then came across an article on cigar box guitars in a woodworking magazine (never heard of them before) and decided to give one a try; found I liked them so have been learning to make and play since then. Learning guitar has led me to a real interest delta blues and copying the likes of Lightning Hopkins, Charley Patton, Blind Blake and Gary Davis. I now make a variety of guitar like instruments including a harp and because of this variety have to source components from a number of suppliers, but mrws components fit well in this mix.

The attached photo shows some of the 2,3,4,5 and 6 string guitars I have made for my own use.

The 2 string basses are 30” short scale using a mrws magnetic pickup in parallel with a 27mm piezo under the bridge. I first used very expensive 2 pole bass pickups on these (have sold ) but had difficulty eliminating EMI. The setup in the photos does not have quite the grunt but produces a very clean bass output. On these am using amaranth, desert ironwood, and pin oak for neck strength and the black body is 50,000 year old swamp rimu.

The 3 string is my “thinline” hollow body electric style, the completed one being the prototype and the body a current one under construction. I am now using mrws tuners, magnetic pickup and under bridge 27mm piezo, also one the current build the 3 string bridge – this is a great leap forward! 3 strings in open G is great to play and my set up suits both slide and finger picking.

The 4 string is acoustic electric (lying down) again uses a mrws magnetic pickup and under bridge piezos, but on this one have Waverly 4:1 banjo tuners to add to the look. With the magnetic pickup only produces a very clean sound but switching in the piezo gives a real distorted overdrive due to the soundboard construction. As there were no adjustable 4 string bridges when I made this I have used a “button” bridge with 2 x 20mm buttons (2 strings per button) in sockets that can be rotated for intonation and shimmed for action setting. Have one in open G and another in tenor tuning; both are great for strumming chords or copying Justin Johnson.

The 5 string was to be my tribute to the guitarist who found the low D string got in the way of open G. No 5 string bridges available so have used Hipshot single string bridges and Hipshot open gear locking tuners coupled with Tonerider pickups - but it does have a mrws truss rod up the spout which is adjusted from the heel end. This is a brilliant guitar to play not only the Honky Tonk Women type music but also RJ style slide blues through to finger style Allman Bros / Little Feat / Sonny Moorman etc. The mrws truss rod is excellent!

The 6 string guitar is just to complete the picture but again specific to a type of music I like and with fingerboard radius, string spacing and setup to suit me. I like working out build techniques and made a 2 axis machine for making fingerboard radii on 5 and 6 stringers.

Am very pleased with the mrws components I use and the delivery service. Great to see the global interest in CBG’s and there are some very good CBG artists about!


Roger Burchett (Guitars by monk14)