Lesson For 3 string players: String relationships

Keni Lee Burgess and others have talked about string relationships. It took my hard head a long time to understand what they were talking about.

Trying to keep it basic, if you can play a 3 string tuned GDg then you can play also play a DAd, EBe, or CGc. The string relationships are the same, but the tone and pitch is different.

If you can play a GDg you can also play a 4 string tuned GDgB. To start, just think of it as GDg but on a full strum, play all 4. You get a bit more treble and it is a usable thing. Furthermore, you can do finger chords on the 3 smaller strings -especially if it is a fretted guitar.

If you can play a GDg, you can also do some fun basics on a six string in open tunings. In open D- the 3 bass strings are DAD- same relationships as a 3 string. Open D tuning is DADF#AD.

Open G is another tuning that a lot of folks play. it is DGDGBD. Some remove the big D string. I do better without it.

Use the 3 strings that are the same relationship as a 3 stringer and give it a go.

Additionally, there are finger chords you can use. Note and melody picking seems more instinctive on the open tunings.

You can look up open tuning and finger chords on line.

If you are totally happy with a 0ne, Two or Three string, then God bless you. Keep at it.

If you want to broaden your horizons and try new things-- do it. A lot of what you know on a 3 string will work on a 4, 5 or 6.

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Comment by Uncle John on June 9, 2014 at 12:31pm

Wes, I think I've heard of Keith and some obscure band he played with.   For me, removing the big string for open G makes sense because it leaves the top 3 (bass) strings GDG and just plays instinctively after a few years of playing GDG 3 string.  I am likely missing something this way that some players would utilize. 

For open E or D, I leave on all 6 strings because the bass 3 are DAD or EBE -the string relationship I am accustomed to.

Some time, I am going to try the open Cs like you use for your lap steel type gits.

Comment by wes carl on June 9, 2014 at 12:03pm

Keith Richards played open tunings a lot with the low string removed  Seemed to work for him pretty good  :-) 

Comment by Uncle John on June 8, 2014 at 1:30pm

Jim, you likely will always love 3s.  But it's fun to try something different - building and playing.  Remember to early on, just think of the 4 as a 3.

Comment by JIm Trussler on June 8, 2014 at 12:36pm

Thanks Uncle John, well done. Now I am thinking about building a 4 string......

Comment by Uncle John on June 8, 2014 at 11:28am

Thanks, guys.  Just trying to pass on stuff that took me too long to learn.

Comment by wes carl on June 8, 2014 at 6:31am

your right John more strings hide some of the mistakes we make when playing

Comment by Sammy Lloyd on June 8, 2014 at 3:01am
Brilliant information John. You are so inspirational, cheers mate
Comment by Uncle John on June 7, 2014 at 9:18pm

Good wishes, Boxy.  Start thinking of it like a 3 string and expand later.

Comment by Boxy Music on June 7, 2014 at 8:59pm
Hear hear. I'm one of those people too, happy with three strings, a bit scared of more...I think tomorrow I may well sit down and apply the same logic. Good lesson, thank you.
Comment by Uncle John on June 7, 2014 at 11:05am

Thanks, Jason but I suspect you are way a head of me.   This sudden understanding....  I am having a BLAST.   It's a dreary Saturday here, no rain, but it looks ready to bust loose.  Sittin' in the man cave and jamming plugged in.   Currently loving the 5 in open G.  Sounds SOOoo good.  Plugged in seems to hide the small errors.

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