I am neither a musician or a luthier. I just like to make things and play music, so this may seem a little stupid to some of you.

What string gauge should I use for the three strings?

I am looking at several online stores that sell bulk (12 to a pack) strings and they are relatively cheap compared to regular packs of strings.

I am looking at the .46, .36., .24 gauge, which would be the 5,4,3, strings of a regular pack. There is no reason for my thinking on this except for the knowledge I gleaned from looking at pictures of guitar string packaging on the web sites.

What strings do those of you with experience generally use? I know this is probably common knowledge, but I have searched all over the site and can't find any answer.

Tags: gauge, string, strings

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I use the 17 24 and 34 gauges I like those the best
wow. I'm thinking way too heavy. These would be more like the 4, 3, 2, strings from a regular pack, (sorry, I know nothing). I think I will re-think my re-thinking on this. Thanks.

Old Lowe said:
I use the 17 24 and 34 gauges I like those the best
When I first started building guitars and was still primarily doing the piezo thing, I always favored Martin light acoustics. All around a fantastic string. I recently tried a set of John Pearce strings after reading a few rants by Shane and was impressed by their contribution to sound considering the puny cigar box body.
i use .042-.032-.024 on most of the 3 string cbg,s i build. kind of a medium set that works good fer me.they are all wound strings. on 4 string cbg,s i have built,most of them has an unwound 4th string and i usually tune it the same as the 3rd string, just cause i like that sound. but it don,t take long to raise the pitch of the 4th string to tune it to a different tuning,fer a different sound. i most always play slide or try to play slide cause i,m still learning how with these open tunings,on a 3string my favorite open tuning is G-D-G on a regular scale like 24.75,but i have some cbg,s i built with short scale necks like 21.0 and 23.0 scale length that are tuned D-G-D. hope this info helps you.
I think you have asked a very good question. I play six strings but the principle is the same. Part of how strings feel is the string tension needed to get to the required tuned pitch. For a shorter scale length (nut to bridge) less tension is needed to reach the desired pitch. What this means is on a short scale instrument the strings may be too floppy to play so you either need thicker gauge strings or an alternate tuning (using greater string tension).
What that means is strings that sound great on one may sound bad on another CBG if the scale lengths differ. For example I usually use electric 8 gauge on any full size guitars (was good enough for Jimmy Page to use!) but for 3/4 size I use 12 gauge strings as the 8s are too floppy to hold a decent tune, or even tune in the first place. Best bet is to try a really cheap set of strings first until you find a set of gauges you like and then buy a better set afterwards - I would hold off the bulk buying until you have found your ideal set. Also try a few different string brands - I prefer Rotosound on my electrics and Martin bronze on my acoustics as the brands do have slight differences in how they feel and sound.
It might be helpful if you could add the scale length of your CBG then others with a similar scale could offer advice.
For a single set of strings in the UK I find ebay often comes up with the cheapest goods.
Good luck with your search,
Answer is what sound do you want?... at first, experiment. If you can find a local guitar store selling "close outs"... I have a guitar store that sells closeout EBalls for $ 2 a pack... buy several and play around....

I generally go with the heavy end (6,5,4) of electric 9's or 10's for a "lowdown grindy bass heavy slide" bluesy sound. If I'm looking for something lighter/lyric, maybe for folk music, I go with the light end (4,3,2 or 3,2,1 in a dulci-box).

Nothing like experimenting and finding your own answer... everything else is just "opinion"

the best,

Wichtia Sam

I just built my first CBG with a Humbucker PU. My question is......what does "electric 9's or 10's" mean?

I need a set of strings.


The "9's" or "10's" refers to the smallest string in a set of strings. There are many combinations, but typically you would see a set of strings with big E string measuring .042 inch and the small E at .009 or .010 inch...

Since you have a magnetic pickup (humbucker) you need electric guitar strings, usually nickel wound, so the pickup will give proper output. Bronze/Phosphor strings will work in a pinch, but not well.

I just read about all the different tunings......I have only tuned in GDg. Can I use the same set of strings for DAd, fcf, DF#A,gbd?

OH! suggestions for inexpensive (ones i will sell) and quality (ones i will play myself)


With GDg, you can easily do the following alterantes:




And similar.  Usually you can get away with one whole step up or whole step down from the nominal tuning, depending on your scale length.  With longer scales you can get a step to step and a half down, but maybe only a half step up.  Conversely, with shorter scales, you can probably do a whole step or maybe even two up, but maybe only a half step down.  Let the tension be your guide.

I would put the same strings on a guitar for sale or played yourself.  There isn't such a price gap between acceptable strings that it should influence you.

I'm using the 5,4,3 strings outta cheap acoustic 12's. I tune them G-D-g. Everyone finds their own favorite but, that is a simple answer to start. The cheapos at Wally-World are about 4 bucks.

oh yeah, nice flatty in your pic!Me likes a pogo seat...
I build mostly Short Scale Acousitc, 15" or 17". But I think I am alone there, (or at least lonely.)

On tin instruments, I have been using .010/.016/.023, with the largest wound if I can find it. So that is the three lightest strings from a tenor guitar pack.

On wood instruments, either the combo above or .016/.023/.032. That is the three heaviest from a tenor guitar pack.

I buy by the dozen from juststrings.com, and get their house brand. That is about a buck a string.


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