I had a few folks that expressed an interest in buying a CBG from me, but it appears they were intimidated by the 3 string versions, and felt that a 4 string version would be more familiar to them. No amount of explaining would suffice, so I built a couple of 4 stringers.
I was not sure what type of tuning would satisfy these guys. The guy a the music store suggested maybe I should tune them like a mountain dulcimer. I figured I would give it a try, but the strings he gave me are really light and I am not sure I like them.
How could I tune/string a 4 stringer that would satisfy someone who is familiar with a normal 6 string guitar?
For slide playing, an open tuning is normal. "G" and "A" are pretty common. For someone who was going to play with fingered notes and chords, there are a lot of choices. Tuning to the "top 4" of a regular guitar is easy; a lot of multi-instrumentalists do this to make things easier.
One could also experiment with the tunings used for some of the longer-scale 4-string instruments like the Irish Bouzuki or the Tenor Mandola; even the tenor guitar.
I think the answer to this is "YES." Build them for four strings, when the person orders it have them specify if they want top 4, bottom 4, (middle 4?). Just string it up like that for them. Then they'll have their "Custom Iggy."
You know I just had a thought. I play mainly in Open tunings. If I'm playing my 6 string guitar, I will tune from low to high, DGDgbd to get into Open G. If I want to reduce this down to 4 string CBG, I will tune Dgbd. (the four highest strings)I still have a lot of the tuning. Why not approach it the same way with standard tuning. If you use the four lower strings EADg, it is just like a bass guitar but not as low. Then tune another 4 string CBG like the 4 higher strings. Dgbe Together they make one guitar. They can be easily played by anyone with knowledge of playing a guitar in standard tuning. Because they are strung and tuned differently, each person is forced to play differently, but one can be the bass/rhythm and the other person can be the lead. You can sell them a matched pair. What do you think?
Caveat: I'm utterly ignorant when it comes to theory, etc... I'm making this up as I go. That said....
I just finished a four-string reso, which I initially tuned GDgb, which sounded funny to me. I just coundln't figure out what to do with that "B". So, just for a lark, I tuned it GDgd, and suddenly everything made sense. Now, I know that's kinda lame (I don't even have a full chord, technically, right?), but for some reason runs across the neck sound better.
I don't know if that would help convince timid buyers, but there's my fifteen cents worth.
I see the "A7" referred to as the "Magic Jazz tuning".
I could be quite interested in playing Jazz on the CBG...... can anyone comment on this tuning or point me to some A7 jazz audio/video/tabs please?