Interested in exploring the 4 string Cigar Box Guitar?
Check out my instructional video CD 5.
Combined with this banjo book, the fingerboard will really open up and reveal it's bounty.
Note: On CD 5 the guitar is tuned Dgbd. This is the exact tuning used on the 5 string banjo in this book (gDgbd)
Learn two instruments at the same time!

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  • Food For Thought - Learning to Play Guitar

    Your favorite guitar player or band has probably been in the business for decades. They are professionals. Don't assume you are going to cover their songs without a lot of effort and time. Just because you go to your local music store and purchase the best accurate note for note tablature, that it is now going to be a snap. I guarantee if you purchase that big book of 10,000 chords, you will probably only use a handful, unless you are planning to play progressive jazz.

    Why do I know this? Been there, done that! LOL   

    Do yourself a favor and learn some basic music theory. Learn how to apply it, while refining your fundamental skills through exercises.

    Consider this, regardless if you are playing in standard or open tunings, the notes on the fingerboard are not going to change. Taking the time to learn to name the notes and find them easily will serve you for many years ahead.

    Then when you make a chord, you also know what notes it contains. This will then help you understand how scales, double stops (2 note chord fragments) and chords fit together. Knowing the notes contained in a chord will help you find the same chord in various other positions on the fingerboard too. (chord inversions) You don't need to rely on chord charts or books. Studying this way will also train your ear to hear tones better. (Play by ear)

    Certainly, you can learn songs off of tablature too, but now you will start to see and understand how songs are actually constructed. This will lead to figuring out or arranging songs yourself. Real freedom of expression.

    I offer this information to save you time and make your practice lead to higher abilities.

    Live the dream. Don't limit yourself. Enjoy your practice.

  • Extended Tuning Ideas for 3 String Cigar Box Guitar
    If you are getting comfortable with the lessons on CD 4 using GDg tuning, here are a few suggestions for further exploration.

    1) GDg tuning contains tones 151 from the G major scale. T...echnically, it is called G5 tuning and is also referred to as a Power Chord.
    2) If you tune the highest g string "down" a whole step to: f (flat 7th tone) You get a G7 Power Chord.
    3) If you tune the highest g string "up" a whole step to: a (9th tone) You get a G9 Power Chord.
    4) To explore these altered tunings, start simply by playing one finger bar chords up and down the neck. Then explore the notes on the first string and find tones that are complementary. Enjoy the vastness.
  • Setting Up A Guitar To Play Bottleneck Slide (Optimal)
    1. The action (string height from the fingerboard) should be the same (or just slightly higher) as for playing conventionally. You want to be able to finger notes and chords over the ...entire fingerboard. This requires adjustments to nut height, bridge height, and truss rod.
    2. The correct string tension required for the slide to ride on the strings efficiently, so the slide does not bottom out and hit the frets is a relationship between string guage and tuning. I tune down from standard (EADgbe) to Open D (DADf#ad) and Open G (DGDgbe). To compensate for the strings getting too loose from tuning down, I use heavier strings. (.016 - .056) In regard to resonator guitars, proper string tension is also required to create the correct downward pressure to vibrate the cone correctly. 
    3. If you choose to tune up above standard to Open E (EBEg#be) or Open A (EAEac#e) medium strings might be too heavy. Higher tension is very hard on the guitar's neck and in regard to resonator guitars this increased tension might lock up the cone.
  • Getting into "The Flow"

    Here is a simple method that will lead to better learning and performance. It will improve concentration, attention to detail, a greater sense of overall awareness, and reduce mental stress and physical tension in action.

    1) The task needs to be challenging. "Slightly" beyond the reach of your abilities.
    2) The task needs your full mental and physical attention.
    3)The task's objective to meet for the smooth continuation of "The Flow" and the consquences of failure that break "The Flow" need to be clear and managable.
    For example:
    1. Practice playing a song that is not too difficult, but at the same time challenges your current ability level.
    2. Play the song from beginning to end like there was an audience watching.  
    3. If a mistakes occurs, minimize the damage, re-focus, and continue. "The show must go on".
  • Total Awesomeness!!

    • Thank you Wayne. Glad to hear you are finding the info useful. Enjoy your practice.

  • A "Simple Secret" about playing in Open Tunings
    A very common question I receive is, "What tuning is the best for learning to play Bottleneck Blues"? I reply, "Open D". Mainly because it is easier to initially learn alternating the bass st...rings. In Open D, the bass is strings 6 and 4. It is a little more tricky in Open G because it is the inside strings 5 and 3. Also in Open D, the first string is d. A lot of slide is played here because the D scales lays out nicely. In Open G, the first tone g, is string 1 fret 5.

    Many players are reluctant to play in other tunings because they believe the tuning is completely different and they will need to learn a whole new set of scales and chord shapes. Although this is not the case. This is why I always stress the importance of learning and applying basic music theory. Now if you are new to music, you may not understand this, but I clearly explain it in my 3 CD set of video lessons.
    CD 1 (Open D) CD 2 (Open G) CD 3 (Comparing the tunings and more songs to learn)
    The Simple Secret:

    Here I am using numbers to represent the major scale tones
    Open D - 151351
    Open G - 515135
    Open C - 151513
    Notice how the string relationships simply shift.
    (15135)1 - 5(15135) - 15(1513)
    Musical ideas in one tuning appear in a different location in the other tuning. Chord shapes move toward the higher strings. Check out CD 6 to learn the "Movable Chord Method" based on the 513 string relationship. It does not matter the key or how many strings are on the instrument because it is all relative to the 513 string relationship.  

    The "string relationship" variations of the different tunings provides alternate arranging options. Many songs work out better in one tuning than the other. "You Got to Move" arranges easier in Open D. "Walking Blues" gets it's bass line from the arrangement of the 51 bass strings.
  • Information Part 1 (Playing Come On In My Kitchen)


    I play this song in Spanish Tuning. Sometimes I play this in the key of G (DGDgbd) or I will tune down a whole step to the key of F (CFCfac). I can also tune up a whole step to the key of A (EAEac#e) or using Open G tuning, capo fret 2. To get the tone similar to the old 78 RPM Robert Johnson's recording, I capo to the key of Bb (capo fret 3). It is essential that you tune the guitar to match the singer's vocal range. Regardless, because all the string relationships (from their repective major scales 515135) stay the same, all the positions on the fingerboard are the same too. Think of this as the same way a (diatonic)harmonica player has a different harmonica for each key of music. Although the notes are different, they are arranged in the same tonal progression based on the major scale and sound in a different key.   

    I teach this song on CD 5 arranged for 4 string CBG tuned in Spanish tuning key of G (Dgbd). Notice this is the 4 highest strings of the full 6 string tuning DG(Dgbd), but also notice a few other important simularities too. The two lowest strings (DG)Dgbd / (Dg)bd and the two highest strings DGDg(bd) / Dg(bd) are the same notes. So, going from 6 string to 4 string is very easy to understand. See CD 2.

    Here is the beginning of the 4 string CBG lesson:

    Here is this song in performance on 4 string CBG.      

    Compare it to the 6 string arrangement.

    I originally learned the Bottleneck Blues style on 6 string, but through my exploration of 3 and 4 string CBG (and 5 string banjo too), I greatly improved my understanding and skill.

    In the next installment, I will talk about the relationship of 6 string and 3 string CBG using Spanish tuning.

    It is my hope to clarify this material to my students, so they can take it a lot further in their applied practice.

    Enjoy your practice, Keni Lee      

  • Thank you for sharing Jag. Enjoy.

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