I'm sure this will bring out an unlimited number of opinions, but that just let's us all learn more.

I've built many CBGs over the past years that had 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 strings. I have enjoyed all of them, but while playing my latest four-stringer, I started wondering how many strings was optimum.

Here is my take.

A one stringer with a piezo is a lot of fun to play and teaches the importance of rhythm, but in the end, it seem a bit limited.

A two strings. Fact is, I haven't built one.

A three stringer: I've built many of of these with piezo and mag pickups. They are easy to construct. Don't need a truss rod and are fun to play aggressively with. Still, I sometimes feel like I would like a few more playing options.

A four stringer Is, for me, close to optimum. Tuned to Open D or Open E, the two bottom strings work very well together for slide blues. The top string can be used to match your tenor run, but an octave lower. This sound good. The third string often seems to get lost in slide blues. Still, a four string doesn't need neck reinforcement and is just about as easy to build as the three stringer.

A five stringer add that important bass string that can be used for the bass walk-down so common in blues. When playing my four stringers, I often miss having that bass string. The five stringer can be built without neck reinforcement if the strings are not too heavy. I tend to add a truss rod just to be sure and to allow the neck to be thinned a good bit.

A six stringer offers all the benefits of a six strings, but it also has all the complexity of a six stringer. I've built at least five six string CBGs and enjoy plying them, but, depending on tuning, the top (bass string) is left out of the action much of the time. Because of the building demands, six strings are not my top pick for the optimum CBG.

I know every string designs has benefits, but I'm starting to think that If I could only have one instrument, the five stringer would provide the greatest bang for the buck. Complexity is about the same as a four stringer, but that added bass string really helps your sound.

So, what do you folks think.

Views: 627

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

For me I go for my six string slider. I use all strings, 4 5 and 6 for bass lines when needed. I find I can play more of a range of songs and tunes on a six. When I play a three string with my mate I feel it lacking for some of the tunes I play. I also like the fuller sound I get from a six.

i don't think any one combination is better, just that different strung guitars suit different styles of music.

cheers Taff

with the exception of the 4 string, I've tried them all at some time or another, but the 2 stringer has got to be the best or at the least the most fun. The string combinations alone make it awesome for experimentation.

I will admit that I love the E+e combo, little sparse, but very useable, but I've got to say that an AD Chugger is the best for 2 stringers

I'm having lot of fun with D3-G3 on a neck with two full octaves on the neck.

We build more than one for options for a reason. Get two three stringers, and a pack of strings. Use the gdg tuning on one, and cgc,dad,ebe etc on the other with the strings left. 

  I thought 4 would be emancipating, but I guess it's a matter of your capabilities. Seems some can play just about anything on any of them. I just end up playing what I haven't sold as long as I have it. I fingerpick a six string two hours a day, a cbg 20 minutes. 

its a cbg is it not. ask yourself this where did or how the cbg came to be and how many strings did they use.

1,2,3 strings was common only in later years was more strings added .

thers yeah answer.for me anything more is not a CBG regardless if you use a cigar box but thats me.

you can buy 4 strings and more standard guitar but 3??

Doesn't that violate the "There are no rules" credo of CBG?

Number of strings is not the main difference between an individual built guitar and an off the shelf unit from China. Doesn't matter how many strings it has. If it is factory built it's one thing. If it's build by the individual it's something else.

Lots of good replies over the past two weeks. I have built gits with 1,2,3,4, and 6 strings. Used Chinese tele neck knock-offs for the two 6 string cbg's I built, used a dowel for one diddly bow I made,used necks I made for all others. I like them all, but my personal favorites, and go-to gits are three stringers. It's the building of the instrument that I enjoy, followed by playing the finished product to hear what I made. I've built 65 to date, more than some, less than others. Some have been awesome imho, some are so-so. All are unique, handmade, home made instruments. To answer the original question, I can't say what's best. But 3 stringers are my favorite. Different string gauges, different sounds, different cigar boxes, home made boxes, a washboard git, a roasting pan git, a tool box git.... Lord, I love 'em all, and I'm gonna keep buildin'. Just never know what the next one will sound like....until it's been built.

I own 3, 4, and 6 stringers, but at the end of the day whatever floats your boat across the moat is the best. I like 3's for bottleneck and 6's for fingerpicking. But remember, you gotta do what YOU like best.

Four stringers are 3 stringers with an extra string.,.,quite usable.,,.interesting topic, but for this type of instrument I'd think it'd be good to have many 3's n 4's in different tunings, plus a 5 or 6 (or several).,.,it seems like thats what Shane does..,how many personal boxes are you up to now??? I'm hold about 10 at the moment but I know that number will grow.,,.how many strings???? then there is doubled strings, double necks, harp builds.,,.endless possibilities .,,. some think the best is one bass string and 3 guitar strings.,.,,.

man I got wordy there.,,.almost turned into a rant.,.,,. RTZ your post is bringing on a seizure.,.,.,

you answered you're own question.  each is different, depends on what you want.

I would add that 2 stringers are tons of fun and can make big sounds.  don't be afraid to hammer them.  they are not to be played delicately.

the best, Wichita Sam

Less than three is too limited.  Three's ideal (for me).  Four is more challenging but could ultimately be better, if you're good enough (I ain't yet).  Anything more is just a regular guitar (no offense). 

I like the 151 tuning, in sequence, and I don't always know what to do with that skinny B string on the end of my 4 string gas can.  I just doesn't get used that much, by me anyway.

Buuut...I've been watching some guys playing some KILLER delta blues on the baritone ukulele.  So maybe another 4 stringer tuned that way wouldn't be a bad idea.  I'm feeling GAS pains...


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


Found my perfect box

Started by Paul W. McGuire in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Korrigan 7 hours ago. 1 Reply

De-Christmassing tins

Started by Titch the Clown in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig 12 hours ago. 3 Replies

Cigar Box (?) Mountain Dulcimer Designs

Started by Gary W aka Rev. Bluejeans in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Paul Craig 12 hours ago. 4 Replies

My next CBG build

Started by Taffy Evans in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Taffy Evans 23 hours ago. 2 Replies

Fret dot recommendation

Started by Douglas Eric Marsalis in Performances, How to Play, Lessons, Concerts. Last reply by Brendan deVallance on Thursday. 29 Replies


Started by Mike in Other stuff - off topic, fun stuff, whatever. Last reply by Jerry Jordan on Wednesday. 23 Replies

My first build

Started by Calvin Harris in Building Secrets, Tips, Advice, Discussion. Last reply by Korrigan on Tuesday. 3 Replies

Blog Posts

The most imitated guitar…

Posted by Tim Snyder on January 19, 2018 at 2:25pm 2 Comments

Cigar box art.

Posted by PEGGY TRAMBLE on January 19, 2018 at 12:55pm 2 Comments

Do you listen to the box?

Posted by Fred Bike on January 18, 2018 at 10:42pm 13 Comments

Tinbox stickdulcimer

Posted by Kim Österberg on January 18, 2018 at 3:25pm 1 Comment

Just not quite right!?

Posted by David on January 17, 2018 at 10:02am 3 Comments

Latest Activity

Taffy Evans posted a discussion

Monkey box build process

Hi, following on from my post, My Next CBG Build, here is the start of a series of photos and…See More
32 minutes ago
Richard Sundberg liked Derek Rose's video
1 hour ago
Richard Sundberg commented on Derek Rose's video

Wishing Well - an original song

"Nice variety of instruments, layered delightful sounds and pickings going on here Derek!  I…"
1 hour ago
Joe Murphy commented on Rob Berry's video
2 hours ago
Joe Murphy liked Rob Berry's video
2 hours ago
Murray Thompson posted a status
"I've started my 2nd project a resonating cigar box guitar. Using parts from a cheap kit I got at a market had a cardboard box."
2 hours ago
Kirk posted a video
2 hours ago
Korrigan commented on Fred Bike's blog post Do you listen to the box?
"Well if any of you sentimental types don't want to agonize over whether to use a certain piece…"
2 hours ago
Derek Rose commented on Derek Rose's video

Wishing Well - an original song

"Ha Pick! It is longer than my usual, I blame the drummer."
3 hours ago
Jeff 'Bones' Reilly commented on Dave Lynas's photo

the pigeon is dead, long live Factoory Throw-Outs

"Kool as dig the sound hole mascot ."
3 hours ago
Jeff 'Bones' Reilly liked Dave Lynas's photo
3 hours ago
StorminSteve liked Erasmo Coco's video
3 hours ago




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

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service