hi everyone

I'm new to building (on my 3rd right now) and I want to build a cigar box guitar in every tuning. I have my first 2 tuned to G5 and was wondering wether scale length had anything to do with tuning to all keys?? is it better to change strings or to change scale length instead??

my cbg's so far have:
3 strings ( the 5th, 4th and 3rd acoustic strings)
25 inch scale length
solid bridge/saddle (it's a cut down drawer handle)

is this all that matters with tuning or am i missing something else?? any help would be greatly appreciated!!


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The string choice and the scale length and the tuning are three pieces of the same puzzle. Certainly you can change the strings on one of your existing ones to target a different register. Equally you could pop a capo on (changing the scale length..) so yes, yes and yes :)

Scale length is designed to conveniently allow the player to find an instrument they can physically play more comfortably, if you sing you will tune your guitar to a key in which you can sing comfortably, though different tunings offer different voices and a different feel to the music, low keys thicker strings, high keys thinner strings - decide on one scale length (very commonly 25.5", same as a Strat). (-:

consider restringing one of your current CBGs with a different string set. See if you can achive your desired tuning. If not then consider your next build with a different scale length.


Scale lenght and string selection both matter. And as the Kid says the two fit together best when combined with an optimum tuning. I have built several with different scale lenghts and string sets. Sometime you have to play around with strings and tunings until you find the combination that "works" with a particular CBG.

I prefer a 22" scale. I find that it makes the stretches between frets easier, especially using open tunings. Here is a suggestion. String using ADg strings and tune Open D: ADf#

I use a "movable chord method", so it possible to play in all 12 keys on 1 CBG.

See CD 6

Feel free to email me directly at kenileeburgess@aol.com

 http://www.ebay.com/sch/njmikeb/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from...   Enjoy. 

So once you pick the scale length that you like to play (me, I like 17")  you then decide on the tuning you want to have.   Let's say Gdg.  Then you go here:  http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.htm

You plug in your string length (in my case, 17) and then enter G.  It tells me I need a .017.  Then I put in d, and it tells me to use a .016, and so on for the little g string.

That gizmo lets you choose the best string for the scale and tuning you want, instead of guessing, or hoping or trial-and-erroring.  And it is just a starting place, you can loosen them up for a lower tuning if you like to play all floppy and buzzy.  But at least you are starting from the optimal.

thanks heaps!! man you guys really know your stuff on this site!!! haha I'll check into everything and make my decisions from there. thanks for pointing me in the right direction!! muchly appreciated!


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