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I think this is the most noobiest of questions but here it goes:
I do not play guitar. I love building stuff. This CBG thing is perfect to me. Now, when it comes to stringing these guys up, I get some different answers depending on who I ask. I have read on here that the 2,3,4 and 3,4,5 are good string combinations. I read in another post that for open G, the A,D,G strings work well. Sadly, depending on where the strings come from (my buddy likes to build with me and gets them at the big guitar shop here, i grab mine from a small town music shop) the packages aren't necessarily labeled with letter notations or numerical notations. I have some that are numbers 1-6 but most simply have the thickness labeled on them. Now, I asked a guy I work with that plays a lot of guitar about strings. He gave me the "Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie" thing. I've seen in tabs that string 1 is the string furthest from you. Is that still the case when stringing up a guitar? Huge music shop guys say I've been using the wrong strings. When I strung up my first CBG with my 2,3,4 should they have been B,G,D or A,D,G?
The other reason I ask for clarification uis that this form is the only place I go to for answers. WHen my buddy hits up the music shop and gets something conflicting I need clarification. The most recent result was, when stringing up his CBG with the (according to the music shop 2,3,4 strings) and tuning it to G,D,g the middle string snapped. We got it tuned to open G once but it was terribly slack and wonky...almost like it was an octave too low. We tightened it all up again and got the 2 and 4 strings to G but the other snapped before hitting D.
He's just getting disappointed in all this because my first CBG build went off without a hitch and sounds pretty good, then I help him with his, taking what I learned from the first, correcting my mistakes and refining the process for a better sound, and it has been nothing but failure after repeated failure.
Sorry this is so long winded as I know the answer I need will only require 2 or 3 lines.
Forget whether it's an A, D or G string, or 1st 2nd 3rd etc, just figure out which gauges you should be using. These are usually indicated on the string packets in inches. for example, I like to use .036, .024 and .018 on my 3 strings, tuning them C - G - C octave low to high. These days I usually buy single strings in bulk rather than full sets, that way I can make up my own custom sets to suit. I use an $8 digital vernier gauge to check string sizes on guitars if I'm not sure what they are already strung with - cheap and foolproof.
The gauges you use will depend on the tuning you want ....or vice versa!
Mike Whisenhunt said:
I'm typically a guy that over analyzes things, that's why I keep asking different sources for their input. I'm learning with CBG's ya just jump in, screw up and learn!
Higher pitch string instruments use thinner strings and have shorter scales. Example ukulele.
Lower pitch string instruments use thicker strings and have longer scales. Example upright bass.
The size of the sound box is determined by the range of pitch. Example: A guitar size is somewhere in between a uke and bass.
Notice how the frets are further apart by the headstock and get closer together by the soundhole.
This is because bass notes have bigger steps to the next note than higher notes do.
It is of course possible to adjust the scale length to a certain amount.
If the scale gets too short or too long, standard guitar gauges will not tune to the required pitches.
Also, frets too close or far apart may make fingering chords difficult.
Basically the correct string tension is needed to drive the sound board correctly, making it vibrate and create good volume / sustain. Too loose...no vibrations...too tight...locks up the guitar.
For a guitar to play well and produce a quality tone, these following things need to be considered and must have the proper relationship.
Neck angle, nut and bridge height, action (string height from fingerboard), scale length, string gauge, tuning, string tension, intonation (plays perfectly in tune over the entire fingerboard).
Experimenting and building crude prototypes, should yield good success over time.
I hope you find this information helpful. Enjoy your build, Keni Lee
I replied 7 hours ago to Matt Quinney's post to the Scale Lengths discussion group, and since the two questions are basically the same, I have copied that response below. I must add that Keni Lee is right on the mark with his observation that scale length is related to the pitch range of the instrument (ukes verese basses, etc.). Here's what I wrote earlier...
There may be some reason a particular tuning would require a particular scale length, but I don't know what the reason would be. Let me think about that question a bit. String tension is the only reason I can think of. Rather than explain it all here, you can read about string length and string tension at this link: Liutaio Mottola. If you exceed the string tension by a lot, then you break the string. Other than that, you can use the open G tuning with any scale length, assuming you pick the right strings.
When selecting a scale length, I consider ease of fingering and my preference is for a shorter scale length instrument. Most of the ones I make have a 50cm (a tad less than 20"), but then my instruments all tend to be diatonically fretted (seven frets per octave instead of 12 like the major scales) for easier learning/playing for novices. For chromatically fretted instruments, you will likely want a somewhat longer scale length so there will be sufficient room between frets for easy fingering, especially above the 12th fret.
When working with a new scale length, I often look to see what sized strings similar instruments use and either try them, or guitar strings of similar size. For instance if you decide on building a 3-Stringer, say a 24" scale, chromatically fretted, tuned to G-D-G', you can look at the standard set of guitar strings: E-A-D-G-B-e and see that the A-D-G strings would work if you tuned A back down to G. So, as a first attempt, you could try the 3rd, 4th and 5th stings from a set of standard guitar strings. If you are going to use magnetic pickups (pups), however, you should make sure all your strings are steel, and you may find you need to go with electric guitar strings. Piezoelectric pickups will work on all types of strings, even nylon.
Also, here is a link to an easy to use string gauge calculator recommended by Diane in Chicago.
In Mike Whisenhunt's case, I'd advise using the above mentioned string gauge calculator to make sure the string you choose is strong enough for the note you are trying to tune it to. If not, try a somewhat thicker string.