May Diddley

A “diddley  bow” for those not aware, is a 1 string guitar, normally played with something called a “slide”, that is, the single string is set up off the neck and you use a glass “bottle neck”, store-bought glass or other material slide, or copper, conduit or water pipe cut to size. I often make slides but also prefer a 3 hole copper pumber’s fitting which you can buy in Chicago for a dollar. Anyhow, this is called a May Diddley because it was my first build in May, 2018 but also because I may use it either with a slide or as a fretless single-string instrument, or both during a particular song.

It’s set up in an old Muriel cigar box, not uncomforatble at all but a tad heavy as the neck is a piece of oak and inside the box is set into a 2×4 flush from top to bottom.

Inset is a single coil pickup from a cannibalized Yamaha Pacifica (which I’ve chopped into a single humbucking pickup travel guitar) so that leaves one more single coil from that git to build with later.

Anyhow, some years ago I built (and still have a use sometimes) another similar little guitar which sounds amazing acoustically… and that one has the neck glued/screwed right on top (outside) on the face of the wooden cigar box.

Muriel didn’t look all that much and it’s fully hard cardboard, so I thought “Why not?!!) and put a couple of hours into building this so I could both use fingers (due to it being low-strung) or slide, and setting the pickup in place meant I would need the neck placed inside as well as reinforced, which I did by gluing/screwing a “heel” where the neck joins the box.

She sounds cool acoustically but sings nicely via an amp… and will come to Minnesota with me this weekend for a blues/bbq set at Ribfest. YES. Fun, quick, cool.


26 inches tip to tip, 23 3/4 scale from bridge to tuner -no nut needed… using a wingnut up top and underneath to hold pitch on the eyebolt.

Pickup is wired directly to a 1/4 inch jack. A bit of a mutt, a tad ratty looking but when I build out ideas for myself I just don’t care. The joy is in the inspiration, sound and playability and it’s got all that for me.

My el-cheapo May Diddley… WILL 🙂

Next week I gotta get down to two friend’s guitar builds… whew… busy but good days as the flowers bloom around Chicago.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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