Easist & most versatile 3 string tuning.

Tuning big string to small string: DGB. The same as the DGB on a six string

G chord: open- nothing fretted.

C chord: index on the small string above the first fret and middle on the big string above the second fret.

D7 chord: index on small string above the first fret and middle on middle string above the 2nd fret.

D chord: middle on middle string above the 2nd fret and ring on the small string above the 3rd fret. (I mostly use the D7)

Em chord: any finger on the big string above the 2nd fret.

Am chord. Index on small string above the first fret.. And middle and ring on the other two strings above the second fret.

E chord: index on middle above the first fret. Middle on big string above the 2nd fret.

B7 chord: middle on the big string above the first fret and ring on the middle string on the middle string above the 2nd fret.

A chord: bar or fret all 3 strings above the 2nd fret

F chord: Index on the small string above the first fret, middle on the middle string above the 2nd fret and ring on the big string above the 3rd fret.

G chord Boogie Note: middle finger on the big string above the 2nd fret- do a four count strum and use the boogie note on the 3 count.

C chord boogie note. Make your C chord. Use a 4 count strum and on the 3 count, fret the middle string above the 2nd fret with your ring finger.

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Comment by Uncle John on May 11, 2015 at 2:30pm

Cool on the banjo player.  Did you try banjer?

Comment by Bad Finger (Eric) on May 11, 2015 at 12:43pm

There was a young woman, about college age, at Caffe Lena playing banjo a couple weeks ago.  Really great clawhammer and a cool couple songs.  She mentioned hearing me play a little clawhammer on my Sawzall dobro so I let her play it and she loved it.

Comment by Uncle John on May 11, 2015 at 12:28pm

Good and valid points Wayfinder.  

Comment by Uncle John on May 11, 2015 at 9:55am

Yup, banjo chords on a 4 or 5 string.   I try to use them  some on my GDGBD open G 5 string resonator.  

Comment by TN Twang on May 11, 2015 at 9:55am

Uncle John,

Thanks for the reply. It sort of reinforces what I had begun to suspect.

Meanwhile, I've been practicing playing lead on the d g and b' strings of a traditional fretted 6-string. I think this is the first time my CBG experiences have carried over to a "real" guitar. Great fun!

Comment by Bad Finger (Eric) on May 11, 2015 at 9:50am

Thanks Uncle John.  I'm trying to adapt this to my 5 string using the 4 highest strings, DGbd.  Banjo chords, I guess.

Comment by TN Twang on May 11, 2015 at 9:44am

Monterey,

When I started playing dulcimer (in 1978) Daa was considered to be the traditional tuning. See any book by Jean Ritchie. I still prefer it on the dulcimer, but I seem to be in the minority. Most dulcimer books today start with Dad and then are "forced" to add a 6.5 fret and retune (DGd or Dac) because they can't play all the tunes any other way. (C'est la vie!)

Dulcimers (and "strummers", which are upside down dulcimers) usually have frets and they only have the diatonic notes of one major scale--not all of the existing pitches. Typically, CBGs have all the notes available as frets or as painted-on frets.

Like Uncle John & Wayfinder, I've deliberately experimented with as many versions as I can muster. For high-strung CBGs I sometimes buy dulcimer sets instead of 6-string guitar sets. Throw away the extra high string and tune the other three, low to high, as d-a'-d' or e-b'-e' or, my favorite full chord tunings, f#-a'-d' or g#-b'-e'. (NOTE: Don't buy Martin dulcimer sets for this. All their unwrapped strings are the same diameter for use with Daa tuning!)

Also like Uncle John says, you can take the bottom 3 strings of a 6-string set and get some really gutsy sounds by tuning low Ebe or Dad. You probably don't want a 3rd in the chord down that low because it sounds muddy. One theory has it that when rockers hit those open "power chords" hard enough, the harmonics provide the missing third up higher.

Meanwhile, the wrapped guitar g string certainly does have a sweet sound for playing lead. I've got a Diddley Bow tuned to g, but I need 2 more CBGs to tune to G-d-g and b-d-g so I can experiment. "Scuse me while I go make 2 more guitars... (Dammit, I've already got 12.)

Comment by Monterey on May 9, 2015 at 9:52pm
Thanks Uncle John, and thanks Wayfinder, I'm still learning!
Comment by Uncle John on May 9, 2015 at 8:59pm

Monterey, maybe my answer was poor.   Dulcimer tuning is often DAD a IVI tuning.  Lots of CBG folks also play IVI tunings including DAD, GDG, EBE.....  but they are most often using bigger and lower tuned strings than the dulcimer DAD.

Comment by Monterey on May 9, 2015 at 8:51pm
Right

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