Those who started playing on 3 strings, and then they were dug for a 4-string guitar, what can they tell of their sense of change?

Views: 243

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I can tell you what it's like to go from 6 to 3 and 4...

It's liberating. It really causes you to focus on different fingerings and different ways of exploring the fretboard, depending on your tuning,as you know. The key for me was to consciously try to forget what I knew from playing 6 strings for 35 years.

What was even more interesting, was really developing my fingerstyle playing, then going back to 6 strings. It completely changed how I looked at the fretboard.

interesting. Do you think 4 strings guitar is easier for chords? What would be your choice? Or better to have one of each :) I now have a 3, and I doubt if I move to a 4. I'm not a guitar player


You're a violin player. You don't play a guitar the same way, unless you're Jimmy Page. ;-)

But seriously...when I started playing a fretted 3-stringer in GDG, I realized very quickly that all my chord shapes built into my finger memory mostly didn't work. What did work was my finger memory for intervals, and partial barres. This is where you come in, because, unless you are a fiddle player, not a violinist, you don't play chords much. Violinists, as you well know, do lots of passage, runs, and arpeggio work. You can do loads of that on a 3-stringer, as I showed in my "Take An Axe To Your Love" video. But, being a 6-string player for so many years, my finger memory developed for chords, primarily, although I have since learned to alternate between chords, fills, and small lead figures. And working with 3-strings, I kept feeling I needed just one more string, so that other tunings, and my known chord shapes, would be easier to do, leading to a richer, fuller, more complicated sound. So I got myself a fretted 4-stringer, too. And started experimenting with other tunings. Plus, Keni Lee Burgess, a longtime CBN member here, was advocating ADF# tuning for 3-stringers, as a way of using the movable chord shapes I already knew from 6-string playing. So I began experimenting with that, too.

What I discovered, as many have before me, is that 3- and 4- string instruments need to be approached on their own merits, just as I found when approaching the Turkish and Arabic ouds, and the Turkish baglama. Different tunings, different playing techniques, some of which translate from fretted guitar, and some of which don't.

Then, after 3-4 years of playing around on 3- and 4-stringers, I found that my chops on 6-stringers had improved. I began to look at the 6-string fretted guitar as not just a single instrument, but a combination of 2-, 3-, and 4-stringed instruments contained within that 6-stringed package, with a multiplicity of tunings available. This has changed how I play.

My opinion is that you need to learn 3- and 4-stringers as separate, non-violin instruments, with their own quirks, personalities, limitations, and freedoms, and stop referencing to violins (unless, as we've discussed elsewhere, you wanna play mandolin). Change your frame of reference: start calling yourself a MUSICIAN, get a 4-stringer, and have fun exploring on both 3- and 4- strings. You already know how to play and read music, in at least one idiom, which is more than many people here do. And yet, they also have fun making music. Stop stressing about how many strings and which is easier to play chords on, and let yourself have some fun! Here's an exercise for you: take a piece, or even just a passage, of violin music you know well and enjoy playing. Ttranslate it to a 3-string guitar tuned in GDG. See what you can do with it. PLAY.

OK :)  

Very thanks for your help! :)

Like Ron, I came from 6 strings to 3 and now 4. I suppose the experience would be totally different to someone coming straight to CBG without starting with standard guitar first. I like to have the 4th string just to allow more complexity in sound both with slide and fretting. But that's just me. Someone coming straight to CBG could start with either 3 or 4 and have a great time. But starting with 3 will be less intimidating for a lot of folks and probably easier to develop the coordination needed to play. If you are comfortable with 3 already, I think adding the 4th string will be intuitive for you as long as you stick with opening tuning. You'll have fun being able to add in some cool, higher accent notes. Here's my 3 cents. ;)

1) You can play a 4 string as if it was a 3 string CBG. Just mute the high string (you could simply park a finger from your picking/strumming hand on that high string to silence it). But it's there if you want it. 

2) If you know some stuff on 6 string like pentatonic noodling, It's pretty cool that you can bring that over to CBG almost directly. On a 4 string open G, you basically have the middle 4 strings of a 6 string in standard tuning with just the lowest string dropped down a full step from A to G.

CGB: G, D, G, B

6 string: E, (A, D, G, B), E

So you can play 6 string solo stuff from the middle 4 of a 6 string on your CBG just by transposing notes on that lowest string up 2 frets on your CBG. Obviously that applies to 3 string CBG as well, but you'll be pretty limited trying to bring over most solos from 6 string to 3 unless you're really comfortable moving up and down the neck rapidly. With most solos being played on higher notes, it's nice to have that 4th high string to use. 

3) Like I said before, even with chords I enjoy the increased fullness in the sound of having the 4th string - you get more tonal complexity.

So in summary, this is just one person's random, ramblings. 3 & 4 are both awesome. If you already like 3, give 4 a try. I bet you'll like it. :) 

Thanks! :)

you have completing chords chart of gdgb tuning?



The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation?How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building BasicsCigar Box Guitar Parts Store

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources


DIY Tennis Racket Guitar

Started by Shane Speal in Feature Articles. Last reply by BlueBird J 2 hours ago. 6 Replies

Help with LPG build.

Started by frank learman in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Timothy Hunter 11 hours ago. 10 Replies

Build a Les Claypool Whamola!

Started by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker in Feature Articles. Last reply by the anonymous pick on Saturday. 8 Replies

CBG tube amp

Started by Lee Custom Shop in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig on Friday. 8 Replies

Latest Activity

Korrigan commented on Chris "Fingerz" Zaferes's photo

Campfire Series "The Crist-O"

"Looks great Chris! Just keep it away from Dave Lynas' campfire.  : )"
2 minutes ago
turtlehead commented on Randy S. Bretz's photo
2 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Johnny Gloves's photo
4 minutes ago
Korrigan commented on Glenn Kaiser's photo


"Looks cool Glenn!"
4 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Dave Lynas's photo
5 minutes ago
Korrigan commented on Clay Clark's photo


"Looks great Clay!"
8 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Clay Clark's photo
8 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Don Craig's photo
9 minutes ago
Korrigan commented on Don Craig's photo

Two-string dulcimer 2 002

"Sweet looking git Don!"
9 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Don Craig's photo
10 minutes ago
Korrigan commented on Randy S. Bretz's photo

Curly Maple neck

"Awesome project you got going on there Randy!"
12 minutes ago
Korrigan liked Randy S. Bretz's photo
13 minutes ago



© 2018   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service