I have been playing guitar now for almost 20 years, just for my own I joyment and jamming with friends not on a professional level. Due to an unfortunate set of medical circumstances I am left me with Limited range of motion in my upper body and hands making it very difficult to play full-size guitar. 

 Seeing what CBG Nation is doing has given me a chance to build a much shorter scale and smaller body guitar. I have a baritone ukulele the body is just to long and to thick to fit my needs. 

The baritone uku is a guitar with out the E and A strings. By dropping the E string from the ukulele I have a short scale 3 string guitar. By masking a solid body and adding electronics I can make a CBG with a length of around 20 inches from nut to tale.

The short, 19 to 20” neck the pitch thing means I must tune to “DGB”  gives me a short scale guitar with open G tuning. Knowing as much about music theory as I know about rocket surgery my question is. What do I need to know to be able to use GDG tabs?

Thanks Richard

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All you need to do is figure out what gauge strings to use for your desired tuning and string tension.

This is a great tool for that: https://wahiduddin.net/calc/calc_guitar_string.htm

But if you are going to be playing from GDG tabs then why not tune to GDG instead of DGB?

If you want to use GDG tabs, then you need to tune your instrument the same way i.e. GDG - DGB won't work. Baritone uke tuning is D G B E. You can take off the low D and tune it G D G - the standard uke string gauges won't be ideal, as the middle and  the high G will be a bit tight but it might work.

I built a 19.1" scale slide guitar with a humbucker to play at my computer station.  It is currently tuned to G2-D3-B3 with .042"w, .032"w & .017" strings at 13.1#, 17.0# & 14.7#.  By experimenting, I found the low string tensions give an immense amount of sustain.  When I was using GDG tabs, I changed the small string to a .022" tuned to D3 with 14.3# tension.  In conclusion, according to my experiments, the shorter scale lengths don't require as much tension to have a long sustain.

The OAL of the guitar is 27" so it will fit in a Mandolin gig bag.  Locating the pickup close to the bridge keeps the tone from being to mellow.  The bridge is bolted to the neck offset.  This is one of my favorite guitars and I wouldn't change anything.  The teak top is re-purposed from an old sailboat centerboard.  The rest of the box is red oak.  And, the neck is cut from a re-purposed NASCAR engine shop table top.

Uncle Fred

G/D/G is  simply 1-5-1. Meaning that the G is your root note, the D is your fifth note and the other G is the root at a higher octave. Using a D/G/B tuning is still a G chord being D-5th/G-root/B-3rd. So a D/G/B tuning is a G major chord. The G/D/G tuning is G without the 3rd. You can play it the same way, just having a 3rd instead of extra root.

You can use regular guitar strings on that scale, but you'll need to use heavier gauge strings to tune up to pitch.

I like building my CBGs with “dulcimer” diatonic fretting (sometimes called a stick dulcimer or walking dulcimer). I built my first one with a 25.5” scale, using my mountain (lap) dulcimer as a scale model. I like it, but playing chords “guitar style” requires a lot of finger reach.

Since then I have experimented with scale lengths ranging from 19” to 23.” You have to do some calculating, but you certainly can achieve the same tunings as the full length scale, using different combinations of string gauge and tension.

However, I came to learn that even if you manipulate the variables to achieve a mathematically correct note, it doesn’t always sound as good. The fact is some string gauges produce their best tone at particular lengths and tensions. For example, a very short, but thicker gauge string (or tuned with more tension) just may not sound as good as a slightly thinner string that is at its optimal length and tension, even if technically they are hitting the exact same note.

So to me it’s a sliding-scale (no pun intended) trade-off between comfort of chording and optimal tone. Shorter scales are fun and easier to chord, but I find it easier to get a richer, sweeter tone from strings gauge, length, and tension that are closer to “typical.” For me personally, I find that balance at a 22” or 23” scale length. Shorter than that and in my opinion the loss of tone quality outweighs any additional physical convenience. Longer than that, and the decrease in my ability to play nimbly outweighs any improvement in tone.

Obviously, tolerance of tone variations is very subjective, and playing convenience depends on each person’s hand size and playing skill. So the balance between tone and playability that I prefer won’t suit everyone.


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