Since I discovered the world of homemade guitars, I've been struggling a bit with what is the best tuning for a cigar box guitar. I've tried various open tunings, but they seem very limiting, for myself of course. I've finally gravitated to 4-strings or six strings, and use the standard guitar tuning for the top four strings. E-B-G-D for 4-strings. 3-string guitars I tune to E-B-G. Six-string guitars I keep with the standard E-B-G-D-A-E.

But I'd be interested in hearing from those who use open tunings, and why you do. 

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  • 1 i use banjo tuning on 4 string (DGbd) top 4 strings drop the e to d. I do 3 variations from this tuning great to slide.  tune your High D  up to E your in 4 string standard like a baritone uke

    2 drop the B to Bflat for minor tuning

    3 (DAda) low grinding use lower strings like 2 power chords the 4 bass strings

    4 (DGbb) tune the e way down to b its like the 3 strings on a six string  the B is doubled and is used for 1 string leads kinda like a dulcie drop the extra b (DGb) same very familiar to 6 stringers  

    i can gig with 2 cbg's banjo tuning is more like standard 6 string tuning (EADgbe) it makes chords like a barre good for slide

    these are my favorite tunings in order ive gigged with all of them you can tune up 2 frets to A with lite strings de-tune to C or B with heavy strings Go to (Cigar Box Tunings) Ice BOb


  • On the three string swamp witch I've played around with 135, 138, 148, 158. And so many more. On the four string Delta Blues I've tried so many I've forgotten most of them. : ) Currently I'm standard on 2, 3  and 4 with a drop D on the first string. Makes learning 'Brown Eye'd Girl' a breeze! 

    Each tuning has yielded an amazing array of possibilities. 

    • Good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

  • I have come to love 3 stringers and DAd tuning. I also drop the A to G and I think that is an open G tuning. I don't find them limiting but then I'm not an expert guitarist either. To me the open chord tunings and relative ease of getting some music you can dance too just add to the charm and allure of these instruments. I want to play mostly blues and rock type stuff anyway so the open tuning and slide playing are perfect for that.

    • How about the Ramones? :) Greatest punk band ever, and any group that sings about lobotomies is aces in my book. They did know more than 3 chords, btw. :)

      • Punk has to be among the easiest things to play on a 3-string CBG.  I will be posting up "I wanna be sedated" on my 5-string Sawzall dobro guitar in the next couple days.

        • Please do! One of the greatest Ramones songs ever. 

  • I must respond to this Berkely thing.  Big, damn deal! 

    I went to YALE.   YALE!   Not saying Jail with a Swedish accent, either.   

    I went to Yale, Iowa on my bicycle.  Cute little town along the Raccoon River Bike Trail.

    • Well, I have walked through Harvard Yard many times. They never mistook me for an actual ivy league student,, of course, especially as I was usually heading for the Cantab Lounge :). BTW, you simply can not park there

      • LOL, Dane.

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