Hello everyone. Just built my first instrument, a 3 string CBG that I love. It turned out great for my first try.

So now that I am hooked, I am planning my next build and wanted to try a 4 string that I can tune to open G.

I have zero experience playing open tunings / slide guitar of any sort and am hoping for a little guidance and understanding from some more experienced players.

My question is why doesn't it seem like it is a common practice to tune a 4 string CBG to DBGD low to high? To my mind it would seem that using the same basic tuning as a standard 6 string guitar open G would allow me to learn the same songs and fingerings so I could go between a 6 string guitar and my 4 string CBG?

So 6 string guitar open G tuning


4 string CBG tuning


What would be the disadvantages of this idea? I like the idea of learning something and being able to play it on both a 6 string guitar and a CBG  -- Thanks in advance for any help on my understanding of all this.

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I dont often play 4 strings, but DGBD is my preferred tuning, for the very reason that it's an easy transfer from 6 string open G. The only disadvantage is that you don't have that low G, but apart from that it works fine. Some people use GDGB, but I've only dabbled with that tuning and not got into it properly.

 Thanks for the reply ChickenboneJohn ... Do you have a string preference for this tuning.... I am just assuming that the DGBE strings from a standard guitar set would work, but maybe there is another option that might sound better ....maybe use the 6th (E) and 5th (A) strings from a standard set and tune down to D and G to get more bass out of those?

Use regular gauges, but go a little heavier on the top string to make up for the fact that you are de-tuning from E to D..so something like .032, .024, .016, .013 will be about right depending on the scale and your personal preferences.

My 4 string  has the A/D/G/B strings on it and I tune them 4-G, 3-D, 2-G and 1-B. This way I can tune the 4th string down to A and play many of my Rock songs that I've played through the years, play the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings like a 3 string CBG and add the the other string when I need it for the 3rd note.

Guitar string     5     4     3     2

string               4     3     2     1

Tuning             G     D    G    B

                   Root  5th  Root  3rd

Alternate          A     D    G    B

My $0.02 would be; give GDGB a try. I absolutely love the tuning. Chords sound full and rich, and pretty much anything is easily playable. I play CBGs in a totally different way to a traditional guitar, so it makes sense to me to use a different tuning.

I also use a free (Android) smartphone app called 'Smart Chord' wherein you can enter your tuning, and simply select from a list of chords - it will then give you every possible fingering on your instrument.

To go along with Richey Kay's suggestion for an app there is also a simple Windows app called "Fret" that does pretty much the same thing (and possibly more) and also allows you to print out the chord charts. It was posted by CBN member Doug Thorsvik here:


Thanks you one and all for the suggestions, advise and words of wisdom. Definitely gives me a lot to think about and experiment with musically. I have a 6 string Republic Resonator that has been hiding in a closet so I just got that out and tuned to open G. I do like the idea of tuning my 6 string and 4 string CBG that I am building to the same tuning. Seems like it will be helpful to transition between the two instruments.

Richey Kay ---thanks for the Android app suggestions will be downloading that ASAP.

Appreciate such a helpful forum community and will be hanging out here often!!

I got here late and read the good responses.   Here is mine.  Early on, I used DGBD and still occasionally do.   It's a good tuning but lacks the low tones some songs seem to need.  I am a hack level player, but I do utilize quite a few tunings and need at least 4 guitars to do so.   Try DGBD and the more versatile DGBE.   And try GDGB, which sounds great to me. 

I will always like 3 strings, and the fewer the strings, the better I play.   But adding that fourth string does take the sound up a notch. 


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