Hi All,

Just finished (minus small cosmetics) my first CBG.  It is three string, tuned to open E.  I chose open E because I have fooled around with bass guitar for a couple years and open E seems easier to play.  

Problem I'm having is how to play minor chords.  I realize this is because of my lack of knowledge about the topic in general, but I was hoping someone could explain this to me.  I also play left handed.  

So for example, Who'll stop the rain by CCR starts with G, F, Em.  I have been fretting the high E string at the third fret, but I'm not sure this is correct.  Or, should I just play the root like with the bass?

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Yes, Dgb works too because it is the 513 from the G major scale. You can create this tuning in any of the 12 keys. Use strings EAD tune EAC# / ADg tune ADf# / DGb tune DGb...different pitches and keys (A, D, and G) but the same finger positions on the board. Although, keep in mind, like I fully explain on CD 6, it is easy to understand the movable chord method that will allow you to play in any key and find the simple three note chords that you need. If you are interested in strumming chords and using a fake book to play your favoite band or artist's songs, this is the best way to go for CBG.        

  Keni Lee won't ever let you down !!     Thanks , Keni !!!!

Thank you. I hope I was helpful. Enjoy your practice, Keni Lee

This looks like the place to ask my question! I've been wading through groups and several years of discussions and I'm as puzzled as ever. My apologies if I'm just repeating what everyone knows.

All I ever wanted to play was fretless 3-string slide. Before my first build, I studied up on slide guitar and discovered E-B-E-G#-B-E (Vestopol?) tuning. I figured what worked for Duane Allman would work for me.

I tuned up a junker guitar to this tuning, bought a slide, and started practicing--first on the top 3 strings and then on the bottom three strings.

I quickly realized I had to build 2 guitars, but that's no problem. (Got 4 now and I keep giving them away.) I bought one pack of Martin light strings and put the bottom three strings on one guitar (E-B-E) and the top 3 strings on the other (G#-B-E).

The next 2 guitars got another set of strings and went (D-A-D) and (F#-A-D). When I give 'em away, this is how I tell the new owners to tune. You can play from published sheet music with chord indicators. (Keep in mind that these are fretless 3-strings with the action way too high for any kind of finger work.)

Life is good. I am happy.

Only one question. Why am I the only guy I know who tunes the high strings G#-B-E or F#-A-D?? These tunings have worked well for me. I can copy licks off of published tabs of solos by Allman, Raitt, etc.--as long as they're screaming the top strings up around the 10th fret.

However, I'm just neurotic enough to wonder why no one else is tuning their high strings this way. 

Oh, by the way, as soon as I can get two more guitars built, I plan to put Keni Lee's movable-chord tunings on 'em  (D-G-B and A-D-F#). Just haven't had time to get the instruments cut and glued.

Feedback greatly appreciated,



You're simply the only guy YOU know. >:-E As you've discovered ( and others like Duane Allman knew before you), taking a standard 6-string guitar and "splitting" it into essentially two 3-stringers via alternate tuning is a quick and effective way to get to different soundscapes. Most people only have at best a couple / few 3-stringers laying around, and since CBGs have a tendency toward high pitched or banjoey tone, are looking for something gritty and deeper sounding. Hence the fascination with G-D-g (plus, it's bluesman-approved, and Kieth Richards famously plays in Open G on a 5-stringed Tele). People also get into comfort zones. After my early attempts with Open E tuning slide back when I was teaching myself to play guitar (before the Internet and YouTube), I focused on playing in standard tuning for some 35 years (primarily because I only had 2 guitars, and played in church choirs and pickup rock bands, where the need for slide playing was at best frowned upon). It wasn't until learning about CBGs 3 years ago that I had to start really learning about alternate tunings, and I, too gravitated toward G-D-g, then A-D-F# thanks to Keni Lee. With 4-stringers, I found that D-g-b-e and variants of banjo tuning brought back some of the few banjo licks I learned some 25 years ago, but never pursued because I couldn't afford a banjo, didn't want to distract from learning guitar, and because banjo players are not always welcomed warmly in church choirs or pickup rock bands, either. Also, I like to sing, but my voice has gotten deeper as I've aged - I never was a tenor, but have always lived in bass-baritone space. Open D especially, open G, and Bb tuning (Bb is often called "the old man's scale" due to vocal changes while aging), are keys I can sing in. Now, of course, I'm buying other builders' efforts, and working on a few of my own, so building 2 3-stringers and tuning them as you've suggested is an option I need to explore (despite having some 20 guitars in the house, most are 6-stringers in standard tuning).

Oily hits on some good reasons why we gravitate to G - I'm from the banjo/Keef school of thought and I also look at the 6 string from an open G chord perspective.  I'm a cowboy chord rhythm guitarist at the core. 

What I really like about your approach Twang is that you are utilizing ALL of the strings out of a pack.  I have a whole box of high and low E strings just rusting away.  

I found a new use for the old rusty strings, turtle: they have now become the snare inside my cajon that I'm building. Yeah, cowboy chords, me, too. Rollin' along with the tumblin' tumble weeds...

Thanks, Oily & Turtlehead,

Ron, I've read your response about 20 times, and I'm still internalizing it. Lots to think about. I've really got to get Keni Lee's tuning set up to try. I can't see how I'm gonna' play lead on it, but I need to try it first. 

I've read that K. Richards has his open-G 5-string tuned so the B string is a Pythagorean major 3rd instead of a modern equal-tempered 3rd. This way it doesn't conflict with the overtones of the low strings that are being emphasized by his distortion pedal. This is why anyone using fuzz tone is better off with power-chord tunings with no 3rd (unless they have the budget for Keith's full-time guitar tech to do their tuning.)

Me, I'm doing everything unplugged so I love my bright sounding equal-tempered major third on the high strings.

Turtlehead, I don't plan to waste strings if I start using the middles of packs. I already have prototypes for 2-string tuna-can banjos and short-scale 1-string diddley bows that I hope to make and sell cheap to help cover table rent at some crafts fairs this summer.

Thanks again, guys,



If you wanna see some leads in G-D-g, and A-D-F#, and hear plenty of others on 3- and 4-stringers, check out my vids and music on my Profile page.
I very much doubt this is true, sorry. Pythagorean thirds are UGLY.. Which is why pre baroque (pre Bach, ie older than around 1700ad) orchestral arrangements are all fifths and all sound so ominous and churchy. Perhaps you (or the writer) confused it with a just intonated third?

It is definitely true that odd order harmonics produced by overdrive and particularly distortion and fuzz from a third can sound discordant, the 'power chord' did not become such a standard rock vehicle by accident. But I very very much doubt a Pythagorean or part-Pythagorean intonation is any kind of solution.

If everyone else is done, I'll try to share a secret or two.... :)

A major chord is made of a minor third stacked on top of a major third.
And a minor chord is made of a major third stacked on top of a minor third.

Many guitar players can tell you how to make a chord minor, "oh easy man, just lower the third."
This is true, in so far as it goes.. But a by product of lowering that third....
Is that you raise the other third..!

(Keyboard players can see this)

So... Let's say you're in a major chord tuning... 1-3 = major third... 3-5 = minor third....
There are a number of ways to make a minor chord with only two or three fingers, I'll let you think about it a day or two :)
Hehehehe...he said "stacked minor third"...hehehehe
This is not a joke mr oily, you are supposed to be thinking he scolded


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