I'm very new to cigar box guitar it looks like the strings are to high and is really hard to play. My question is what is the height the strings need to be?

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Comment by Teresa fuller on January 13, 2014 at 9:51am
Thanks guys I will try looking at some videos and I know this is all new to me thank you for helping me understand a bit more I just can't wait to learn how to play and even later learn to build
Comment by Uncle John on January 12, 2014 at 4:31pm

Theresa, please go to the page top and click on 'how to play.'   Then about half way down the new page click on: FUN VIDEO: Knotlenny's great 3-String Cigar Box Guitar 101 video lesson

In about 5 minutes, Lenny will show you how to tune and play a fretless.   Lots of fun. 

Comment by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker on January 12, 2014 at 8:44am

Theresa, the guitar you bought is unfretted, and meant for playing with a slide. For slide playing, the string height doesn't matter as much - though opinions differ on this, as Chickenbonejohn points out below. You should know though that for basic slide playing you don't need to push the strings all of the way down to the surface of the neck, you just have to make enough contact with the slide to get a clear tone.

The guitar you bought has a 5/16" threaded rod for the nut and a 1/2" threaded rod for the bridge. Lowering the action would require either filing down the existing nut and bridge or replacing them with smaller ones.

Comment by ChickenboneJohn on January 12, 2014 at 2:48am

I have my own views on action - whether fretted or unfretted, the action should, within reason, be as low as possible. The only exception is for lap steel guitars, when having a high action is necessary. Having high action for slide guitar isn't necessary a good thing, as playing slide guitar is more than just using the slide 100% of the time. To get the most out of the guitar you want to be able to play fingered chords, solos and bass figures..as well as slide. Having the action a tiny bit higher than a regular guitar can be helpful to prevent the slide rattling on the frets, but I'm talking only about 1mm (3/32") higher at the nut and 2mm (3/16") higher at the 12th fret than an 'ordinary' guitar.

I know it's easy to make your first guitar with high action and you can then just play it with a slide, but as your playing (and/or guitar making) progresses it's good to be able to get more out of the guitar with a decently low action. Here's one of my YouTube videos where I talk about this subject. Feel free to disagree or reject my approach, but this is how I've done over 1000 "make and play" workshop guitars where people learn to make and play their first 3 string guitar. In these day courses, after everyone has made their guitar, I teach how to play with the slide, but also right from the first 5 minutes of learning to play, I introduce the idea of fingered bass runs and fingered chords.

Comment by Marcus Darwell on January 11, 2014 at 4:31pm
Depends what you want to do with the git. If you want to use a slide then a high action is a good thing. If not, you have to look at lowering the saddle and nut. If it has a threaded bolt for a bridge/saddle you can use a thinner one, ditto for the nut.

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