my neighbor wants me to build him a cbg with 5 strings no bottom e string. He wants to tune it like a regular guitar eadgb. Does anyone know how well regular tuning works on a cbg? thanks!

Views: 444

Replies to This Discussion

If you maintain a 24-to-26 inch string length (VSL), then you shouldn't have a problem with using guitar tuning assuming you also are using guitar strings.

However, if you increase or decrease the string length significantly (by several inches or more), then you'll find you can't tune it without having very loose strings, or popping (breaking) the strings when you try to tune it up to your desired tuning.

As you may know, the shorter the string length, the higher the pitch the instrument will be. So, if you compare a ukulele to a guitar, with it's very short string length, there's no hope in tuning it to the same notes of a guitar, although it may be possible to tune it an octave (or two?) above the standard guitar tuning.

I make short necked stick-dulcimers in the range of 16-to-20 inches and the resulting instruments are higher pitched than guitars. The only way I have found to make them lower in tone is by switching to nylon strings, choosing strings 2,3 and 4 (for instance) and the resulting instrument will have a lower pitch, but will have the "plunkish" sound of a ukulele, especially with wooden sound boxes. With a cookie/cake tin resonator and nylon strings you can get better results with nylon strings on a short neck instrument, but I have to play around finding the right bridge to get the sound I'm looking for.

However, a 24-26" VSL 5 string cigar box using standard guitar strings should be able to handle "eadgb" tuning any of the problems I mentioned above.

Good luck with your build...

I mostly make short scale instruments, and I (so far) have just increased the pitch and used string thicknesses corresponding to a standard guitar.  For example, if the instrument has roughly the scale length of a standard guitar capoed at the 5th fret, I use a tuning consistent with the pitches that implies.  But, if you're dealing with fewer than 6 strings, that does give you some options. 

To stay with the above example, let's say I'm making a 3-string instrument with a scale length about equal to a standard guitar capoed at the 5th fret.  That means, without changing the string tension at all from the way they'd be tuned on a standard guitar, I could tune: A-D-G, D-G-C, G-C-E, C-E-A, just by choosing the string thicknesses corresponding to neighboring strings on a standard guitar, in this case, the E-A-D, A-D-G, D-G-B, or G-B-E.

Then factor in the fact that standard guitars sound just fine with a number of alternate tunings using the same set of strings, as long as you don't deviate too much from standard, and that gives you a bunch more options,   And finally, if you're talking about an instrument that uses less than 5 strings, you don't even have to pick string thicknesses that would be neighbors on a standard guitar.

So - I wouldn't worry too much about this.  If you want a shorter-scale instrument that preserves A-D-G-B-E, you can get there - up to a point - using slightly thicker versions of standard strings, or you can "jump" down a string, i.e. use the E-A-D-G-B strings in a standard set, and tune them up a 4th (assuming your scale length is short enough).

Of course, at a 24" scale length, all of this is academic - you'll be fine with standard strings, tuned normally.

Thanks! It's always great to learn more about building cbgs.


The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Discussion Forum

String selection for DAD tuning

Started by steve buckingham. Last reply by Ice Bob Jul 16, 2014. 7 Replies

5 string tuning

Started by Cin wel. Last reply by Cin wel Jun 21, 2013. 3 Replies


Started by Mark Bliss. Last reply by Harry A James Apr 25, 2013. 8 Replies

E5 with 1,2,6 Strings

Started by Dr. Dave. Last reply by Ice Bob Aug 10, 2012. 3 Replies


Started by Mal Chilvers. Last reply by Swamp Dawg Primal Music Jun 12, 2012. 3 Replies

Help with Key Please

Started by Soulcatcher & His DooFa Diddley. Last reply by Soulcatcher & His DooFa Diddley Oct 25, 2011. 4 Replies


Started by Mal Chilvers. Last reply by Ice Bob Apr 21, 2011. 1 Reply

G Maj.

Started by Mark Bliss. Last reply by Ice Bob Jan 24, 2011. 1 Reply

Blog Posts

Mag pickup help

Posted by Fantacone Box Works on December 1, 2019 at 7:26pm 5 Comments

Tupelo Tenor kit

Posted by Craig W.Solomon on November 21, 2019 at 6:51pm 4 Comments

Hello from new member

Posted by Morgan L. Scoggins on November 16, 2019 at 9:52am 8 Comments

Latest Activity

Uncle John posted photos
13 minutes ago
Sammy Lloyd posted a video

Shane and Sammy sing Whiskey and You by Chris Stapleton

Went to see my old buddy Shane who's made me a lovely cigar box baritone we thought we do a little song to test it out. Needs work (the song...
1 hour ago
Uncle John commented on Bill Turner (Wunkyman)'s photo


"Love your art and imagination, Bill."
2 hours ago
Gus K liked James Pobog's discussion Lap steel build for grandson...
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Dave Lynas's photo

neck slot and bracing finished

"Gonna produce some voluminous volume, Victor!"
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Daniel Walter's photo

Bow guitar with original bridge,,,,

"Or maybe an art show.   Great."
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Daniel Walter's photo

Bow guitar with original bridge,,,,

"You deserve to be featured artist at some big art shoe."
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Vern Hallett's photo

HF - 3

"Nice use of zero grey and string guides. You are a Gooding luthier."
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Downtown Vinnie's video
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on Poorness Studios's video

Quick Demo of the Pizza Paddle

"That thang is a total winner.   You play it well, too.  That looks like a Gitty bass…"
2 hours ago
Profile IconChris DiStasio, BeanJean, Bugre and 2 more joined Cigar Box Nation
2 hours ago
Uncle John commented on BUGGY (C)'s video

My what's cooking

"I like your poertry, Bug!"
2 hours ago



© 2019   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->