Consider a 3-stringed instrument, such as a Cigar Box Guitar. A default tuning might be open Gmaj, or (from head to feet) G--B--D.

My idea is to reverse two strings, therefore: B--G--D. Bar chords are all still major and sound about the same. But instead of a full bar chord, we can use the middle finger to fret only the G--D. The B string is fretted by reaching the thumb over the top of the neck. STILL sounds the same!

But now the thumb can move one fret towards the nut. Voila: a minor chord, because we have flatted the third! So with two easy hand shapes, a person can create all major and minor triad chords.

This also works with 4-stringed instruments if the bottom (i.e. towards the feet) string is an octave of the root/tonic. The key is to have a narrow neck, as in stick dulcimers and most CBGs.

I came up with this two years ago. Now I am sharing with everyone. If you try this and like it, please let me know. And please TEACH OTHERS!

Thanks for listening!

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Never heard anyone tuning their git to G-B-D, except when tuning a 6 string, D-G-B yeah, but then to do what you say, all you have to do is string it up lefty if your a righty to get the B-G-D.

Something new to play with I guess, but for the most part, people are use to having their base string at the top of their neck, and as far a thumb use, a common practice for eons, me personally, I have enough challenge with my stubby short fingers and keep my thumb on the back of the neck, so I'll stick to conventional.

Welcome anyway, and not squashing new ideas, just wouldn't work for me.

 I have short fingers and using the thumb wasn't ideal on a 6 stringer, but a 3 or 4 string CBG should be possible. We just have to adapt and teach us old dogs a new trick. Haha

Sometimes I have a hard time getting the smaller string on the bottom fretted good, so putting the fatter strings on the bottom could be better. I'll give it a try sometime soon and thanks for your suggestion.

An extension of this idea: Putting the "perfect fifth" string in the middle (e.g. B--D--G, from head to feet) and using the thumb to flat-fret the B--G (i.e. the third AND the fifth) gives you all the DIMINISHED chords as well!
In the post above, I meant to say "to flat-fret the B--D".

One more extension ....

When using a pitch-shifting stomp box, one can electronically modulate the signal to play in ANY MAJOR OR MINOR KEY with NO RE-LEARNING OR CHANGES to the hand positions.

On a related note: I sometimes tune down the highest string on my four-strings half a step (from G-D-G-B to G-D-G-Bb for example) to achieve a similar but less complicated effect. This turns everything to minor while it still allows for playing major chords with very little adjustment (just fret the higest string one fret further up than usual...). This does, of course, also work with a three-string tuned to root-fifth-minor third.

Hans: Thanks for sharing!
In your tuning/methhod, which digit frets the G-D-G strings? Which digit frets the Bb string?

For barre chords I use the index finger for G-D-G and the third finger for the Bb string. But I mostly use chord shapes on the four-string and for that whatever finger is on the highest string just has to move up one fret...

My reason for using this method of tuning down the highest string half a step is that in standard open tuning I have a hard time fingering some of the minor chords in a way that I can strum all four strings. The chords just sound a lot better with all four strings strummed instead of just three and I don't have to mute the lowest string with the thumb which often leads to buzzing sounds when I strum a little more vigorously... and I can play in G minor without fretting anything (I love G minor...)


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