hi everyone, just joined. my question is, im thinking about getting one and starting out on a 3 string and then maybe later go to 4 string. so would it work if i bought a 4 string but take one string off until i think im ready to go to 4?

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Comment by Fomhorach on December 8, 2016 at 12:34pm

If your new to playing an instrument (even a piano), 3.
If you have played before 4.

If your building it, 3. If your confident at woodwork,4

Either way you will seek out a 3 just to get that experience, playability and sound. 3's make you work a little more with your fingers and musical head and that's why they are unique and very musically rewarding.

Comment by bill on December 8, 2016 at 4:11am

wow alot of advice ty all. i just figured maybe the 4th string would open up the door alittle more as far as playing up-beat blues and some of the 70"style rock to boot. with what ive read maybe ill just go with a 3 string instead of getting a 4 and not using one string for awhile. just thought i might be getting the best of both worlds down the road if i went with a 4.

Comment by Gary W aka Rev. Bluejeans on December 7, 2016 at 3:56pm

bill - you're getting good advice from this crew!  I never played a standard 6-string guitar, which may have a lot to do with why I prefer a 3-string to a 4.  My son who plays very well, has tried to steer me to the advantages of that 4th string; so far I've only built one 4-stringer and that was a commission job.  That said, he can make a 3-stringer rock out pretty nicely!  When I built that 4-string, I asked some of the folks here about what to use for tuning.  'Anonymous Pick' suggested using a wire cutter to remove that problematic 4th string!  (Now with Chickenbone John's explanation, I'm starting to understand why!)   Good luck - and please keep us posted!

Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on December 7, 2016 at 1:02am
Player skill, musical taste, etc., all factor into this. But why not buy / build one each? I have found this to be quite versatile. I go to my GDG tuned 3-stringer, and play with that some. When I'm feeling a bit more complex, I switch to the 4-stringers tuned GDGB, ADF#B, etc. why? Because I normally play 6-bangers, and my fingers know those shapes and patterns.

Or even better, build yourself a double neck, one with 3 and one with 4, tuned either split scale, or entirely differently. Max bang for the buck.
Comment by ChickenboneJohn on December 5, 2016 at 4:24pm

Don't think of 4 strings as being better than 3, or being able to do more than with 3. With  3 strings the commonest tuning is an open 5th chord, it's neither major nor minor, so it's ambiguous musicologically speaking, so easily suited to blues, folk and all sorts of rootsy music. Once you go to 4 strings, you either end up with a more conventional tuning such as tenor banjo / mandolin intervals, or there's a strong tendency with open tunings to add the 3rd into the chord, and you have to decide whether to tune your instrument to a major or minor chord. If all this means nothing to you...go for 3 strings, it is far easier and more intuitive.

Comment by bill on December 5, 2016 at 8:44am

im thinkin more like up -beat blues/rockin roll that kind of stuff mostly but I do like the other styles. playin with slide sometimes. I guess I should say a variety and yea if I get one itll be fretted. thx for the replies..sounds like ive met some really nice people already. glad I joined the site

Comment by Scott aka Farmer Ted on December 5, 2016 at 7:56am

Each one has it's merits. Selection may also depend on your playing style and needs. Are you looking to only play with a slide on a fretless model? Or are you looking for a fretted model that opens up the ability to play more than just slide bar power chords?

A 3 stringer, with or without frets, will likely be tuned/set-up in an open chord like GDg, DAd, GBD, and others.

With four strings, more versatile tuning variations like ADF#B, DGBE, CGDA, and others allow for chord patterns used with fingered chords. And chord charts for these tuning patterns are readily found online.

Ultimately, it all depends on the player's preference and playing style.


Comment by darryl kernaghan on December 5, 2016 at 5:39am

Many people do just that, they build a 4, and just use 3, no reason at all why you couldn't or shouldn't, bar the appearance of the empty tuner

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