The only really playable CBG I made is a six string. I used a ready made fender knockoff neck and built the body our of 3/4 and 1/8 ply. What's really cool about a six string is you can tune it up to be two three strings. A good thing about a six string tuned to an open tuning is you have more options on where to play to get the sound you want. Also if you tune it to an open E you'll be able to play "She Talks to Angels" The harmonics and everything will fall right into place.
I played a six string for years. My first try into three strings was to take three strings off of a guitar. Then tuned it to open G. Was totally lost. I was so bad I actually tuned the three strings to standard tuning to write my first song. I bought a four string CBG and was still lost. After playing and struggling with this for a few years I find I'm more creative on a three string guitar. I makes me think outside the norm to get the sounds I'm looking for.
Okay, this is encouraging, CTBR. I play slide Duolian in Vestapol tuning, so I follow what you're describing.
Got pix of your 6-string?
Whew, that's a beauty. Bo Diddley meets Buck Rogers! And you can get up there almost an octave?
Very easy to play above the twelfth fret. The wood behind the neck is only 3/4 of an inch think.
That's the original neck. It's warped with a broken truss rod. Came off a guitar I bought at a garage sale for $15. Sometimes you really do get what you paid for. : )
I think that a four stringer is an outstanding instrument design. You can go with open tuning as Wayfinder says or you can go with standard tuning (the 1~4 strings of a 6 string) and you can even tune to ukulele tuining (which is a cool tuning). A four stringer is amazingly flexible in terms of tuning.
That being said, I have built several six stringers and enjoy them as well.
The above six stringer is a joy to play, but unless you already play six string, you will find it a fairly steep learning curve. The four stringer may be a less frustrating starting point if you take the time to learn just how flexible it can be.
Either way will provide you with a great musical experience. Good luck
If you click the "Post" tab above then the "Groups" link you will find that there is already a six-string CBG forum. They can provide you with a lot of information.
Doug, you mention that you play slide guitar in Vestopol tuning? In that I case I would suggest tuning your 4-string the same way, just minus two of the strings. Seeing as there are only three notes to begin with (D, A, F#) you can easily substitute anything played on the missing strings over to the ones you have left.
For example, anything played on the high D string will still work fine on any of the other D strings, just in a lower octave. Just think of it like you busted a couple of strings on your regular guitar!
Of course, which four of the strings to keep is up to you, but that's part of the fun - top/middle/bottom/other combination(!?).
Hope this helps.
Hey, King, thanks for the encouragement. And I can see it will be fun with 3 strings, experimenting with various tunings.
Sounds like a six-string CBG has to bee such a guitar-like construction that it's not really a CBG at all. All the answers I'm getting help me understand that. And that it's a different kind of fun playing.
Don't forget the five-stringer. Keith Richards has played five strings in open D or G for years......
Here's a pic of a 6 string git I built. Undercrown box, chinese tele-style neck (Amazon, $32.00), hardtail bridge, Gitty electronics and tuners. It was the first bolt-on neck build I tried, and it was different than doing a typical cbg neck-through. But, it was fun to build, and once I got the truss rod in good adjustment, it is a joy to play. Tuned DADF#AD, it is a slide player. I have a thrift store Strat knockoff ($5!) I bought to strip down for cbg use, but once I replaced the input jack, it plays! Having a hard time tearing down a working guitar that plays nicely for a cbg. But, as Wayfinder and others have pointed out, the parts value alone is at least $50.00. Decisions, decisions....But if you want to try a six stinger, go for it. Truth be told, other than my Undercrown 6 string slider, I prefer to play 3 or 4 string gits. And the value of making a git is even better than finding a cheap player. Anyone can buy a ready-to-play guitar, but ya gotta get down to build yer own.
Totally cool info Tom T. Neil Young did things with different tunings as well. Standard tuning is a modern thing. Open tuning is a music thing