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 very mysterious for a builder, especially folks without a background in music. 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 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.
First, 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 include 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” 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”