“Open A” AEA Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsNot as widely used as some of the other open “power chord” 1-5-1 tunings, the A E A tuning is still a good one to try out and have in your toolbag. A full step higher than the more widely-seen Open G tuning, the high A note can be a bit too trebly for some people, but the lower tuning with the unwound .016″ as the middle A puts out a really nice sound.

This article gives you the exact strings to use to achieve this tuning on a cigar box guitar (or other instrument) that has a scale length in the range of 24.5 to 25.5 inches.

First, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Check out the various string sets available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Continue reading ““Open A” AEA Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open D” DAD Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsThis article follows the format used in our first article on cigar box guitar tunings, which covered the GDG Open G method. If you read that article, you may find some of this repetitive – feel free to skip down to the bottom where the specific string sizes are listed! – Gitty

After the GDG “Open G” tuning, the next most popular on 3-string cigar box guitars is probably DAD “Open D”. This tuning actually shows up, in part, on standard 6-string guitars, in the alternate “DADGAD” tuning. The lower-pitch versions of this tuning really have a low, bassy feel because of that big low D string, so it can be a very interesting option for cigar box guitar builders.

I have actually personally tested and confirmed (and revised!) the string gauges listed below during the writing of this article, so this isn’t just theory and guessing!

These Open D string sets and Many More available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Before we dive in, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Continue reading ““Open D” DAD Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open E” EBE Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsThis article follows the format used in our previous articles on cigar box guitar tuning. If you have read those articles, you may find some of this repetitive – feel free to skip down to the bottom where the specific string sizes are listed! – Gitty

The Open E tuning is not seen as often as the more popular GDG and DAD tunings, but it is a great alternative for cigar box guitar players, especially if you are playing a lot of blues. Shane Speal used this tuning on his recent album Holler!, on the track Big Leg Woman/Swing the Hammer.

Because of the bluesy feel of this tuning, we purposefully used a little smaller gauge strings on this tuning. The means that the strings are a little looser on the instrument, which is good for playing slide blues. If you like things a little tighter, try bumping up to medium or even heavy-gauge strings.

I have actually personally tested and confirmed (and revised!) the string gauges listed below during the writing of this article, so this isn’t just theory and guessing!

Before we dive in, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

Continue reading ““Open E” EBE Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

“Open G” GDG Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips

Cigar Box Guitar StringsOf all of the three-string cigar box guitar tunings, the most popular is probably the G D G open G tuning. Featured on many how-to-play videos on YouTube and CigarBoxNation.com, this tuning has become the de facto standard for 3-string slide blues.

A lot of new builders run into the question of how they achieve this tuning – which strings they should use, whether to go with larger strings or smaller, and so I wanted to try to demystify the topic.

First, a disclaimer: these recommendations are made based on our experimentation in the C. B. Gitty shops, and it is what we have found to work. Other people may have different opinions, and they are welcome to them. I’m not trying to set any standards or lay down any laws – I am just going to tell you what works for us. 

These Open G string sets and Many More available over at www.CBGitty.com!

Continue reading ““Open G” GDG Tuning on your Cigar Box Guitar: 4 Methods, with String Sizes & Sound Clips”

A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Make a Straight Headstock

No fancy tools required to make this awesome headstock for your cigar box guitar

By Glenn Watt

Thanks to craftswoman Farley Andresen for the demonstrating the work Straight heastock featured image

 No fancy tools required to make this awesome headstock for your cigar box guitar

Cigar box is in the name, but the neck is what turns the box into a cigar box guitar.

And the headstock – the part of the neck that anchors your tuning pegs – is a critical component to getting, and keeping, your CBG fully functional. Continue reading “A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Make a Straight Headstock”

Amazing Grace – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

If you had to choose just one song as the anthem of Western Christianity, it would probably be Amazing Grace. The words to the song, written by English poet and clergyman John Newton, were first published in 1779. The words were first put to a tune around 1835, when William Walker began using an old traditional tune New Britain along with the words… and that is largely the same tune we use today.

New_Britain_Southern_Harmony_Amazing_Grace
This image from a hymnal published in 1847 shows the words and music of Amazing Grace, still under the title of the traditional tune “New Britain”.

In the centuries since its first publication, Amazing Grace has been arranged, re-arranged, performed, recorded and re-imagined uncounted thousands of times. It is a song that is truly in the public domain, part of the collective consciousness of large swaths of the modern world that have taken part in the Christian Tradition.

Glenn Watt and Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker are creating a series of 3-string cigar box guitar tablature PDFs for this timeless song, which have begun to be released here on CigarBoxGuitar.com. These tablatures are released entirely into the public domain without advertisements, and with no need for attribution, copyright or branding of any kind. We believe this to be a song that belongs to the world, which no one person can claim to own, and we give our personal interpretations of it freely. We hope you enjoy it!

Version 1 – Basic Melody

This version of the tablature gives you the song in its most basic melody form. Recommended for new players! Click the image below to view the printable PDF file.

AmazingGracePDF

Version 2 – Melody and Chords

Here both the melody line and some chord accompaniment is given, for a fuller and more soulful sound. Some filler notes to lead up to and down to the main melody notes are also added to flesh out the tune. Click the image below to view the printable PDF file.

Amazing Grace with Chords Tablature PDF

Amazing Grace – 4-string Open G GDGB – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

This tablature will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the hymn Amazing Grace on 4-string cigar box guitars tuned to Open G GDGB.

If you are uncertain how to read this tablature, please watch this video by Glenn Watt in which he explains how to read and understand it.

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Amazing Grace Tablature for 4-string Cigar Box Guitars – Open G GDGB Tuning

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

Ashokan Farewell – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the popular tune Ashokan Farewell, written by Jay Ungar. This tune has pretty much become the “go-to” song any time someone wants to evoke plaintive, longing, wistful Americana… for example, it made quite a few appearances in Ken Burns’ immensely popular PBS documentary on the American Civil War. It is also always a favorite at campfire pickin’ sessions, so it’s a great one to have in your cigar box guitar tablature toolbelt!

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Ashokan Farewell Cigar Box Guitar Tablature PDF

Listen to an MP3 Demo of this Tab

Auld Lang Syne – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

This is the the popular Scottish New Year’s celebration song Auld Lang Syne, as arranged and tabbed by Glenn Watt. Glenn has created two versions of the tab – the first one is just the basic melody lines, and the second adds some chord accompaniment.

You can view the printable PDFs by clicking on the images below. You can also watch the video below where Glenn shows you how to play the song on his 3-string cigar box guitar tuned to Open G “GDG”.

Aule Lang Syne - Melody Only - Click Image to view PDF
Auld Lang Syne – Melody Only – Click Image to view PDF

 

Auld Lang Syne - Melody and Chords - Click image to view PDF
Auld Lang Syne – Melody and Chords – Click image to view PDF

 

Blank 3-string Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Blank 3-string Tab Sheet
Click to open the print-able PDF document.

Here is a blank tablature sheet for 3-string instruments, including our favorite the 3-string cigar box guitar! You can use this if you want to try your hand at creating some of your own tablature of your favorite songs.

Click on the link above or on the image to the left to download the full print-able PDF document. This sheet can be used freely, for any educational, personal or commercial purpose. We hope to see it being put to good use!

Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes – 3-string Open G GDG – Chords & Tablature for Cigar Box Guitars

Open G GDG Listing ImageBlister in the Sun is one of the classic alternative rock anthems. First released in 1983 on the self-titled album by the Violent Femmes, it remained popular through the 1990’s and still is heard today. The opening riff is one of this song is one of the most recognizable in rock and roll, right up there with Smoke on the Water.

 

Another great thing about this song is that on the 3-string cigar box guitar tuned to Open G GDG, it can all be played on one string! An alternative arrangement could take it lower to make use of the second and third strings, but we leave that up to you. It is a very simple melody line, so have some fun with it!

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes

Click the image above to view the print-able PDF for this tablature.

Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe 3-string cigar box guitar tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the song Blowin’ in the Wind, written and performed by Bob Dylan. This is one of the best known of Dylan’s songs, and is a bona-fide folk anthem. It also has a nice easy-to-play melody and chord structure.

The printable tablature sheet linked below contains both the simple melody-only version as well as a more advanced version that includes some chords.

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

We also have a video by Glenn Watt that shows you how to read and play this style of 3-string CBG tablature: click here to view it!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Blowin in the Wind by Bob Dylan – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Blowin in the Wind by Bob Dylan - Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

 

Blue Christmas as performed by Elvis Presley – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe tablature in the PDF link below shows you the notes and chords you need to play the bluesy Christmas song Blue Christmas on your 3-string cigar box guitar or other homemade instrument tuned to open G GDG. Perhaps the most famous artist to record this song was none other than the King himself, Mr. Elvis Presley, but a whole cast of other singers and bands have done so as well. They include Johnny Cash, Collective Soul, REO Speedwagon, Kelly Clarkson, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Buble, just to name a few.

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

If you need some help with this style of tablature, here’s a video where Glenn Watt shows you how to read it

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley) Cigar Box Guitar Tablature PDF

Boogie in G – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing Image

This melody and rhythm combination is one of the basic building blocks of the blues, and an awful lot of songs have been recorded using it or variations of it. Feel free to make up your own words, and have fun with it!

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Boogie Woogie in G Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

View the video below to see and hear C. B. Gitty playing this exact tablature.

Boogie Woogie in G Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Build Me Up Buttercup – 3-string Open G GDG – Tablature for Cigar Box Guitars

This song is a feel-good rock and roll classic, first recorded by The Foundations in 1980 and covered a number of times since. This version of it has been arranged and tabbed by Glenn Watt. Glenn gives us two versions of the song – the basic melody line, and then the tabbed version with the chords.

You can view the printable tablature sheets by clicking on the link or images below. You can also watch the video below where Glenn shows you how he plays (and sings!) the song on his 3-string cigar box guitar tuned to Open G “GDG”.

Build Me Up Buttercup (Melody Only) – Tablature for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

 

Build Me Up Buttercup (Chords) – Tablature for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

 

Camptown Races – 3-string Open G “GDG” – Tablature for Cigar Box Guitars

Stephen Foster did not believe in smiling for the camera.
Stephen Foster clearly did not believe in smiling for the camera.

For anyone who grew up watching old Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny Cartoons featuring Foghorn Leghorn, this song will be instantly recognizable.

Camptown Races is another classic American folk song written by Stephen Foster, who was the first American composer whose works were widely popular. He wrote this song and others like Oh Susannah in the middle of the 19th century for performance by the many minstrel groups that were popular at the time.

Thee tablature arrangements of this public domain song were created by cigar box guitar afficionado Glenn Watt. He has created two versions of the song – a simpler melody-line-only version, and then a little more advanced version that includes some chord strumming.

You can view the printable tablature sheet by clicking on the links or images below. You can also watch the video below where Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker shows you how he plays the song on his 3-string cookie tin banjo tuned to high open G “GDG”.

Camptown-Races-chords Camptown Races by Stephen Foster – Melody Line Only – Tablature for 3-string Cigar Box Guitars

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet for this song.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet for this song.

 Camptown Races by Stephen Foster – Chords & Melody – Tablature Sheet

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

Carolina in my Mind by James Taylor – 3-string Open G GDG – Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Open G GDG Listing ImageThe 3-string cigar box guitar tablature in the PDF link below will show you exactly how to play the melody and chords for the song Carolina in my Mind, written and performed by James Taylor. This is one of James’ greatest hits, instantly recognizable from just the first few notes. Like a lot of James Taylor’s songs, the melody line is fairly straightforward but the chord progression can be a little complex.

The printable tablature sheet linked below contains both the simple melody-only version as well as a more advanced version that includes some chords.

All of the cigar box guitar tablature here on CigarBoxGuitar.com is presented by The Southbound String Company, the only strings specifically chosen and voiced for cigar box guitars. Be sure to check out our line of Open G GDG cigar box guitar string sets here!

We also have a video by Glenn Watt that shows you how to read and play this style of 3-string CBG tablature: click here to view it!

Click this link or the image below to view the printable PDF: Carolina In My Mind by James Taylor – 3-string Cigar Box Guitar Tablature

Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.
Click the image above to view the printable tablature sheet.

We hope that you will find the tablature useful, and that you’ll use it to make great music with your cigar box guitars!

CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar

A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment. While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

60-005-119 Image 3A Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) can range widely when it comes to decoration. The most basic, primitive CBGs have very little decoration; reduced to its most basic form, a CBG is a stick, a box and a couple of strings, without any need for show adornment.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with that austere simplicity, many builders enjoy adding some decorative touches to their builds. Many cigar boxes start off as pretty decorative pieces anyway, so it is natural to try to build upon that when creating a handmade instrument from one.

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the methods you can use to decorate your builds, and wherever possible to use hardware that is both decorative AND useful – using a decorative Continue reading “CBG Bling: Decorating Ideas for your Cigar Box Guitar”

Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms for 3-string Open G “GDG”

Here are the chord form sheets for all of the common keys that you might want to play on your cigar box guitar. These are all for 3-string cigar box guitars tuned to Open G “GDG”.

This single post replaces the separate posts we used to have for all of these, to make it easier to find what you need. All of these sheets were created by C. B. Gitty and are presented for free personal and educational use. They are not to be used for commercial purposes without permission.

For help on how to make use of these chord forms, click this link to view the guide:

How to Read and Use Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms PDF.

Click the images below to view the printable PDFs. The sheets are presented in musical order starting with A and proceeding through G.

A Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF B-flat Cigar Box Guitar Chord Forms PDF B Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF
C Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF D Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF Eb Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitars PDF
E Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar F Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF G Chord Forms for Cigar Box Guitar PDF