This 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.
Generally there is a bit of wiggle room on each pitch. If the chart calls for a .034″ and you have a .036″ it should work. A .038″ would probably work, but it would be pretty tight. A .040″ would probably break. Likewise, a .032″ would be OK but would be a bit looser. A .030″ would be noticeably looser, and .028″ would probably be too loose and flappy. A lot of it comes down to personal preference and what you decide will work for you. Looser strings means lower overall string tension, and less overall volume. Tighter strings mean more tension and volume, but also higher risk of bowed necks and broken strings.
These values are based on my own testing and experimenting of what works. I make no claims or guarantees that they will work for you – but they should. Click on the links in the chart to go to the listing for 12-packs of each string size on www.CBGitty.com. We are working on filling in the gaps so that we carry the entire range of sizes!
|Range||Pitch/Note||String Size||String Type|
|Middle||C (261.63hz)||.014″||Plain Steel|
|High||A (440hz)||.008″||Plain Steel|
* Plain steel strings can be used for the Middle A and G notes, but on most guitars a wound string is used. We have had luck using a .016 unwound string instead of .018″ wound for the middle A; a .018″ unwound should work well for the middle G. Having an unwound string as the highest-pitched string can give a little extra treble twang, and also sounds smoother with a slide.
6 thoughts on “Master String Size & Tuning List for 25-inch Scale”
What a great question, Charles. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen such a chart but if we find one, we’ll be sure to post it.
Has anyone worked out a chart for fishing-line weights/diameters? Some of us hate hate hate the sound of metal strings… Also, fishing line is dirt cheap: a guitar’s lifetime supply of string for the price of a single manufactured metal string!
Shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are using the correct strings. This guide should work well with all instruments with a scale length of 24.5-25.5 inches.
Want to know if I can tune my guitar down to a# with a 25.5 inch scale. Cannibal corpse tuning
Here are some examples of how to use this chart.
Let’s say you want a basic Open G GDG tuning, with two larger wound strings and one plain steel string. Using the chart, you would find Low G, Middle D and High G. The string gauges would be .042″ wound, .030″ wound and .009″ plain steel.
If you wanted to do a High Open A (AEA), you would choose Middle A, High E and High A: .020″ wound, .010″ plain steel, .008″ plain steel. A bassy growly Low Open (AEA) would be Low A, Middle E, Middle A: .040″ wound, .026″ wound, .020″ wound.
OK now a little more complex – a popular Open G 4-string Tuning: GDGB. There are a couple of different ways you could vary this, but we’ll start with Low G and move up from there. Low G would be .042″ wound, Middle D would be .030″ wound, Middle G would be .022″ wound, and the middle B would be .015″ plain steel.
Now, a Baritone Ukulele tuning, which is also known as Chicago Tenor: DGBE (these are the four higher-pitched/smaller strings on a standard 6-string guitar). Middle D, Middle G, Middle B, and high E. 030″ wound, .020″ wound, .015″ plain steel, .010″ plain steel.
Finally just for fun, a full 6-string acoustic guitar set. The strings on an acoustic guitar are tuned EADGBE, starting at low E. So the string sizes from the chart would be: .048″ wound, .040″ wound, .030″ wound, .022″ wound, .015″ plain steel, .010″ plain steel.