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My little sister desperately wants to learn guitar, but she is too small to handle a normal sized instrument. I've already made a 3-stringer, so I figured I could tackle this project. My thought was to make a uke-size instruments with a scale length of 15"-17" or so, but make it a six stringer. My other thought was to throw ukelele strings on it and tune it to a standard guitar tuning (would I be tuning up a few notes or so?). I figured this would make it easier for her to fret the strings without having the wound strings like on a normal classic guitar; maybe keep her playing and from geting too discouraged. I think that this would give it a neat sound too.
The thing I am not sure of is how to know what gauge strings to use for the various notes. Is there a way to calculate this? I figure I would have to mix and match between bariton, tenor, and soprano uke string sets.
Any thoughts on this would be appreciated, I haven't really been playing too long, and don't really know the ins and outs of string instruments yet.
I am no expert, though I have built several of these instruments, I recommend high tension classical guitar strings tuned to ADGCEa. One important thing is accurate fretting otherwise short scale six strings can sound bad. And I agree, I would not amplify it.This one of my bronze stringed ones, I used the heaviest set of strings I could find. With classical strings I wouldn't radius the fingerboard but keep it flat. It played like butter.
You may find this information useful.
A Terz guitar is just like a regular guitar, but due to the shorter scale, it functions like a full size guitar with a capo at the 3rd fret. Tuned G-C-F-A#-D-G.
All the fingerings are the same as a standard guitar, but of course the key is higher.
I know there are nylon strings available for Terz guitars.
Enjoy, Keni Lee
A while ago I became interested in short scale instruments and had some good replies - the link is here http://www.cigarboxnation.com/forum/topics/smallest-scale-possible-...
The string gauge calculator suggested by Diane in Chicago is very helpful http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.htm.
I also found this site for palm guitars who claim to make the smallest electric guitar (scale length 20.239 inches and uses strings .012/.016/.020/.032/.044/..056) the web link for the guitar specs is here http://www.palmguitar.com/html/manuals.phphttp://www.palmguitar.com/html/manuals.php
I had a similar problem with my youngest son and modified a soprano uke tuned DGBe using hard tension classical strings using the string meant for 2 strings up (E used for D, A used for G,D used for B,G used for e). Although much thicker the increased tension lets you get a much lower action compared to the normal uke strings.
Personally for the price of a piezo disc I would stick one in as it adds another avenue for the children to explore and keep the music interest growing.
this is just 2 more cents, but i am building what i plan to be a travel guitar i can take on the back of my motorcycle. i'm using a salvaged neck off of a broken "childs" guitar with a shortend scale. its a stratocaster knock off, has an 18 3/4 scale and uses standard light gauge electric guitar strings. if your going the acoutic route i've had great luck using a set of light gauge strings from Long & McQuade sizes starting at .046 and ended at .011, but i've used them on a 24.5 to 25.5 scale every time, and can speak for how they'd work on a shortend scale. in either case any child should have no problem playing them. i find i have to be careful as i have a high grip strenght, and can cause the notes to sound detuned easily.
hope that was useful, it's always cool to see someone trying to pass music on, and i'd love to hear and/or see what you end up with! good luck and have fun!
I have headed down this same road with my kids, a Baratone Uke is about right for kids but is still a 4 stringer.
If you want more guitar like and build six strings get Alto guitar strings. They are nylon core but wound, I got mine at strings by male. I did find uke nylon strings to soft (weak) to really drive a cigar box top. The alto guitar strings are for something in around 20" and with a shorter scale the strings a a bit tighter and will drive a cigar box top better, but not be to tight for kids fingers.