When I built my first CBG it was fretless and I enjoyed the process of, at least, getting a reasonable tune out of it. I have since built a fretted version but I’m having trouble getting to grips with it. My problem is that I have very small, arthritic hands and I have problems with some of the chords. I cannot possibly, for example, fret a 2nd and 5th fret at the same time, thus limiting my progress. Is there anyone in a similar situation who could advise me?

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Try a shorter scale.  The frets will be a bit closer together.

What width & thickness neck are you using?  Is it a fully carved neck or are the corners just rounded off?

I had considered that. My necks are 35mm x 25mm and I use a router to round the back edges.

Hi, well as one old timer to another I play mostly three cord songs or songs that do not require demanding cords. Mainly because I’m too lazy to learn them. I also mix chord playing with single string notes or play just part of the chord.

That’s why I play the blues. The same song on a six string with 4-5 chords I can get away with using three shaped chords and single strings.

Good luck Taff

Thank you for the encouragement Taffy.

" My necks are 35mm x 25mm and I use a router to round the back edges"

I much prefer a fully carved C shape neck, so that it feels like a regular guitar neck.

Try carving a piece of pine to a C shape.  Make it the same 35x25 dimensions & draw fret lines on it. Now just practice your difficult cords on that stick o' pine & see if a full carve is more comfortable.

Make your fret lines removeable (mark on masking tape perhaps) & you can try out shorter scales. 

I cut a piece of pine to neck dimensions that simulated an added fretboard. I left a section of it non-carved, a section with rounded edges, & a section that was a full carve.  Confirmed my suspicions.  Carved neck for me.

Sound advice, thank you. However, would carving more wood off the neck potentially weaken it?

Depends on number of strings, scale length, tunings, wood choices, etc.  Should not be a problem with a 3 or 4 string CBG unless too soft neck wood.  A glued on fretboard also adds strength.  

I have a fully carved 24" scale Poplar neck with Red Oak fretboard strung with .056, .044, & .032  strings tuned to EBE.  Zero issues.

Hi again, try a capo and still tune as normal. A piece of dowel and an elastic band around the back would do it to try it out. Play where the frets are closer.


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