Construction Details

Information on parts and construction of guitars

Bull Run CBG makes guitars from 1 to 5 strings. Prices vary and are dependent upon cost of parts and labor. Four-string guitars are between $250-$350. Three-string guitars are between $175-$225. Bull Run Specials and 5-string guitars can vary between $300-$500 (these include special guitars such as traditional 4-string resonators, upright basses, bedpan resonators and custom-fit guitar cases).

My background is in woodworking. I incorporate solid building methods with details such as reinforced box structures to handle string tension, hand rasping for smooth necks—particularly with regard to curves and when multiple woods are used to create one piece—and joinery (such as dovetail joints in the custom cases). I personally test each and every instrument I make, to ensure there is no buzzing or popping in the electronics and that all my solders are solid. I also stand behind every instrument I make. Have an issue with a piece I’ve made, contact me and I’ll make it right.John Fanning

CBG details thumbnails

Boxes: I find cigar boxes at a variety of places: antique shops, flea markets, cigar/tobacco shops, and I also receive them as gifts. I prefer to use all-wood boxes, but ultimately if a box is unusual or a nice size or shape, I end up reinforcing the insides anyhow and I make it work.

Necks: Each neck is custom-made by me, and almost every guitar has a neck-through design for stability. I use a variety of woods and often layer a few together. Some of my favorites: maple, mahogany, cherry, walnut, hickory, sapele (African hard wood)…. I am often on the hunt for different hard woods, but lately I have been more drawn to local hard woods available in the mid-Atlantic region, which would have been used during the Civil War era. NOTE: 5-string guitars incorporate non-adjustable truss rods to add stability.

Bridges & Nuts: Bridges and nuts are made a variety of ways using either steel (ex: a bolt), wood or bone. Most recently I have been using custom bridges through Mojobone Works. See more information below.

Frets: I prefer medium frets, unless otherwise specified, and use a 25 1/2″ scale.

Pickups: High quality for rich sound. Humbucker, Piezo, etc. (magnetic and piezo). Most recently I have been using custom bridges through Mojobone Works, who incorporates a Piezo pickup into the bridge for a great sound and no feedback. See more information below.

Tuners: High quality, and with a variety of finishes that complement the design of each instrument. An example: distressed nickel with a vintage look to them.

Decorative Hardware: From grommets to brass corners, I hand-pick everything that goes into the design of each instrument. For instance, I used a vintage copper spoon with holes in it mounted at the bottom of a stand-up bass as a tail piece.


Images of boxes before I start building. Check with me as to the availability of a particular box.

Note from John:

Mojobone Works logo

Mojobone Works makes handmade-to-order bridges using wood & bone. Randy Bretz, at Mojobone Works, uses some really exotic woods to give a truly unique design. Installed into the bridges are a piezo rod pickup. The nice thing for me is that when I use antique boxes in my builds, I’m able to have the pickup hidden under the bridge and not do further damage to the box. The sound is much better than with the piezo disk I used to install under the box lid & bridge location…I have experienced no feedback on these and they are very responsive. Randy at Mojobone Works also makes some incredible slides, bone jewelry and even a Harp Mic! Please check out his Facebook page…Some incredible stuff!


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