Since most all of you are building three string CBGs can you give me your opinion on what gauge strings you use since mine will not have a truss rod. Just a basic oak neck and fret board.  Just want to double check to make sure I do not put anything too heavy that would cause the neck to bow. Thanks for any advice.  My thoughts would be something like .016,.024,.032 or a .017. .026, .036 nickel wound for electric guitar since I have a single wound pick up.  I was thinking any heavier might cause a problem.

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I would try the .017 .026 .036 first. That's the middle 3 from a set of 10's and should work fine. Good luck!

What gauge you choose depends on what tuning you go can still put a lot of load on a neck with light gauge strings if they are tuned high.  I use 046, 030, 022 for GDG tuning . With a .016 on the top you'd be looking at something like CGC as your tuning.

Hello John,  I would be tuning GDG (basic open G tuning). I would think the heavier gauge set you recommend would put more stress on the neck than a set with 32,24,16. Am I correct or am I confused?  I would think the 46,30,22 would sound better  I was just concerned the string tension would be too much for the neck.

That’s about right Frank, I play same gauges as Chickenbone for GDG. Cheers

I go 22, 32, 42 for low G tuning. But i have a St Blues that came with 46, 26, 17, and I just use those on that one (I'm too lazy to mess with the nut). Experiment!

Thanks Don and Brian for your comments. That is good to hear the larger gauges work fine with no bowing issues.

Really? I thought that large low G might cause too much tension on the neck? With no truss rod if the larger gauges do not cause any bowing issues that is great. I know for sure the sound will be optimum. Thanks....

Depends on your scale length, which tuning and which octave you are going for.

A 25.5" scale with nickel roundwounds, .036 .026 .017, tuned G2 D3 G3  is about 48lbs of tension total.

Same scale with .070 .048 .036 tuned G1 D2 G2 would be about 45lbs.

Check out these awesome tools:

Guitar String Diameter Calculator
Guitar String Tension Calculator

Thanks a million Korrigan for the input and the links. This is just great.

I’ve been playing the same 3 stringer since 2003 with no bowing. Oak neck thru with no fretboard tuned GDG & AEA. I started out with .052, .042, .030 (EBE/DAD) before switching it over to GDG .046, .030, .022 & my neck is still straight as an arrow.

Wow that is super.  I am sure even with a disc type piezo pickup the unit would sound great. I appreciate all your input. Good information for sure.

I just pick a set I like for six string and use the gauges for the third (G), fourth (D), and fifth (A) strings. You tune the 'fifth' string down a whole step and you get GDG. Should be safe tension for most any CBG neck.

I order several of each size in single strings and make up my own sets:

Here is the D'Addario chart the calculators use if you want to go deeper:

Similar GHS chart:


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