How to Play EEB Tuning Cigar Box Guitar - Get easy, beautiful chords with this lesson

Shane Speal has been championing the 3-string "EEB" tuning for years and has written several songs with it.  In this lesson, he shows how you can start playing your own lush ballads by simply using two fingers for a moveable chord.  It also includes information on which strings to use when setting up EEB.

C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply provided the awesome camera we're now using for these videos.  Thanks Gitty!!!

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Nice!! I'm goin' out right now to restring one of my gits!

I strung up a beautiful 3 string made by a friend.  It never quite pleased me in other tunings.   Hunh.  It wanted to be EEB !   Sounds so pretty.  I agree, Shane,  it seems to hold songs that want to come out.  I hope they do.

Question:  Jim or Shane.  I lack music theory and don't really want to learn it!!   How can I play a minor chord that goes with this key of E?   Probably a Cm?  

This is a versatile tuning.  I can play my usual simple blues stuff and slide - using the small string for the things I would normally use the middle string for.  Instead of my usual IVI tuning, this is a IIV. 

I can sing some in E, but I am better in G.  I wonder how a GGD version would be.   I know it would lack some of that great low tone.

I haven't strung one with this tuning yet Unc, but minor chords are certainly possible. For instance, an Em could be played with the 3rd fret on the 2nd string, strings 1 and 2 open. Also you could use the same theory that you use in GDg tuning which is that any open chord or straight across bar chord could be either major or minor since you're not including the 3rd of the chord which gives that major/ minor sound. I know this can be confusing if you don't have a handle on theory but suffice to say Eeb, like GDg is still a 1,5 power chord type interval and can be either major or minor. In the key of E the minor chord is C#m and could be played in Eeb by barring all 3 strings at the 9th fret. There are other, harder ways of doing this too but simple works for me in a pinch. I may have to do a short vid about this unless Shane jumps on it first.

To answer the question about C minor:
Play the eighth fret of the low string. That's your C.
Play the 11th fret of the middle string. That's your Eb (the minor third of C)
Play the 8th fret of the high (smallest) string and that's a G which is the fifth of C.

Probably the easiest way to finger this is the lay your forefinger across all strings on the 8th fret and with your little finger (or ring finger if you have big hands) press down on the 11th fret of the middle string. That's your C minor chord.

Once you have this shape you can move it anywhere to play other minor chords. 

Here is music theory made simple: It's all just like the song Do Re Me (pronounced Dough Ray Me)
Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do are the notes in that song. Give them numbers and you have:
A major chord is the first, third and fifth note in that list. 1, 3 and 5
A major 7th chord just adds (guess which one) the seventh note in that list. So you have 1-3-5-7
To play a minor chord you just find the 3 and instead of playing it, play the fret before (lower) than it.

Here's a little more:
When you find the Do Re Me notes on an instrument, they are not all in a row. For example, on a guitar neck if you go up the neck playing each fret one at a time it won't have the Do Re Me sound. You have to skip over some frets to find that sound. Once you find them, they make a pattern that's easy to remember. Of course, when you play the pattern across all the strings it will be different depending on how the strings are tuned. Playing in different tunings is advanced as far as theory goes. It's easier to learn that on a standard six string guitar.

Altered tunings such as EEB are advanced theory, but Shane has showed us how to play it usefully without getting into the theory. Theory is easier to understand and use on common tunings and it helps when discussing music with other musicians.

Thanks, Shane - Awesome sound (and song)! If I were going to try that out, is there a 4-string tuning of EEB you would recommend?

Loving this tuning.   First HOUR playing the tuning and I wrote a song I like.   I made a video and posted it. Credits to  Shane.  

Jim, I am new at this, but wish I had used electric strings.   Low action seems best for what Shane is doing and what I did. 

On the Minor chord question,  all the fretted chords have a bit of a happy sad minor 7th sound to my not well educated ear. 

Well I like what you did Unc. I agree with you on the sound of the chords and I explored it a little and tried to explain without getting all technical in the video I just finished.
Here it is

I learned a couple things about EEB this week. 

To do it well, you need a guitar with very good intonation up the neck.   Your E strings fretted at the 12th should be a near perfect E.  At the 5th should make a near perfect A.    At the 7th they should make a near perfect B etc.  If not, it will not sound quite right.  And if it is right, it can sound beautiful.

It will be much easier to play and sound good if the action is low.   

 Light or electric stings make it easier too.

Great tuning.  Best with a well setup guitar.

No flats for all 3 notes, so yeah it has to be spot on. ;)

Love the sound from this tuning.  I would like for you to cover the right hand strumming patterns as well as the left hand fingering.  I think this would help everyone in trying to learn to be a better player.  Love CBG.

What gauge strings are you using for E-E-G?

E-E-B  he used the low E - D - B strings from a 6 string set. I believe the Shane Speal strings that CBGitty sells and the gauge for those strings are .052 for low E, .032 for the D and .016 for the B.


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