“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”

How to Pick the Right Strings for your Cigar Box Guitar

One of the most frequent questions we hear from new cigar box guitar builders is what strings they should use on their cigar box guitar, and how they should tune it. This can be a very mysterious for a builder, especially folks without much of a musical background. While it is often said that there are no rules when it comes to building CBGS (and that is often true, which is one of the great things about this hobby), it can be very frustrating to hear when you just want a simple answer to a question. In this article, we’ll try to demystify some of the theory behind strings and tunings, and also give some straightforward clear answers for those who just want to know what to do.

Southbound Strings Open G 3-string SetFirst, we’ll give a clear answer for those of you who just want to know what to do: at C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply we consider a “standard” cigar box guitar to be a 3-stringer with medium-gauge acoustic strings tuned to either Open G (for slide playing), or G-B-E for fretted playing. The strings used are equivalent to the three highest-pitched strings on a standard six-string guitar, and the scale length of the instrument (the distance from the nut to the bridge) is around 25 inches.

This happens to be the most popular set of CBG strings we sell in our shop – our C. B. Gitty 3-String Acoustic Medium Open G/Standard Set. If you are building your first cigar box guitar and have no idea what to do or what you need, start with these strings. These strings are based on a “medium” weight set sold for a standard 6-string, but includes only the 3 highest-pitch strings (the smallest/lightest ones) from the pack, so you don’t have any leftovers. It can be tuned either in “Open G” tuning for slide playing (G-B-D), or if you have a fretted neck it can be tuned like the 3 highest-pitch strings of a standard guitar (G-B-E).

This “standard” tuning will allow you to utilize partial chords that you might know from a standard guitar. Continue reading “How to Pick the Right Strings for your Cigar Box Guitar”

How to Tune a 3-string Cigar Box Guitar to Open G GDG

In this video, Ben “C. B. Gitty” Baker and Glenn Watt show you the basics of getting your cigar box guitar in tune. Both tuning “by ear” and using a digital tuner is covered, so even if you have no experience with musical instruments or tuning, this video will help you get started. At the end of the video, Ben and Glenn even do a little bit of jamming with their newly-tuned cigar box guitars.

Master String Size & Tuning List for 25-inch Scale

bulk-strings-500pxThis article is presented by the Southbound String Company – the first brand focused solely on providing strings specifically chosen and voiced for Cigar Box Guitars and other handmade/homemade instruments!

 

This chart shows you the string size to use for every pitch from double-low B (one Octave below the low B on a guitar), all the way up to High A.

Using this chart you can figure out the strings to use for pretty much any tuning you want. These strings should work for instruments with a scale length of 24.5 to 25.5 inches, with 25 inches being the middle point.

The string gauges shown below are for a “light” string set. For a “medium” set, add .002″ to the wound string sizes and .001″ to the unwound string sizes. For example, for a medium set, for low C you would want .036″ instead of .034″. For high E you’d want .011″ instead of .010″. Increase string gauges from there to move towards “heavy” sets.

Continue reading “Master String Size & Tuning List for 25-inch Scale”

Video: Two Tenor Tunings for 4-string Cigar Box Guitars

In this excerpt from a Cigar Box Nation TV episode, A. J. Gaither and Ben “Gitty” Baker discuss two great tenor guitar tunings for 4-string cigar box guitars: “Arkansas Tenor” (low E, A, D, G) and “Chicago Tenor” (D, G, B, E). Both allow you to use partial 6-string guitar chords – Ben even shows you how to use 6-string chord forms with both of these tunings.

In this excerpt from a Cigar Box Nation TV episode, A. J. Gaither and Ben “Gitty” Baker discuss two great tenor guitar tunings for 4-string cigar box guitars: “Arkansas Tenor” (low E, A, D, G) and “Chicago Tenor” (D, G, B, E). Both allow you to use partial 6-string guitar chords – Ben even shows you how to use 6-string chord forms with both of these tunings.

Cigar Box Nation TV is a presentation of CigarBoxNation.com, the online home and rallying point of the cigar box guitar revolution. It is sponsored by C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, the general store for all things cigar box guitar and homemade/handmade music – instruments, kits, parts and gear.