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.
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.
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
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...