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How Do You Tune A Cigar Box Guitar?

However you want :)

Seriously, you can tune it like a traditional guitar but with three or four strings or you can tune it to an open chord similar to a banjo (but without the banjo 5th string).

There are as many ways to tune a CBG as there are to tune are regular guitar which is many hundreds. You can also tune some strings in unison such as A a D G g (the small letters represent a higher octave).

 

Here are some common tunings for a 4 string cigar box guitar. The top string (first) is the third of the chord.

 

 

Here are the same tunings for a 3 string cigar box guitar. There is no major third so technically these aren't major chords.

 

 

 

D-A-d (using the 6, 5 and 4 strings)

G-d-g (using the 5, 4 and 3)

f-c-f (using the 3, 2 and 1)

A-d-f# (using the 5, 4 and 3 strings)

d-f#-a (using the 4, 3 and 2)

f#-a-d (using the 3, 2 and 1)

B-d-g (using the 5, 4 and 3 strings)

d-g-b (using the 4, 3 and 2)

g-b-d (using the 3, 2 and 1)

 

  • 1 String

String 5 (A) tune down to G or

String 3 (G)

  • 2 String

 

String 5 (A) tune down to G / String 4 (D) or

String 3 (G) / String 2 (B)

  • 3 String

Know as G5 Tuning, only two tones, but three strings

String 5 (A) tune down to G / String 4 (D) / String 3 (G) or

  • A full G chord

String 3 (G) / String 2 (B) / String 1 (E) tune down to D

  • 4 String: 4 (D) / String 3 (G) / String 2 (B) / String 1 (E) tune down to D or

 

String 5 (A) tune down (G) / String 4 (D) / String 3 (G) / String 2 (B) or

 

String 5 (A) tune down to (G) / String 4 (D) / String 3 (G) / String 1 (E) tune down to (D)

 

  • 6 string - Tones 5/1/5/1/3/5 Open G Tuning DGDGBD

 

 

  • A7 (the magic jazz tuning): A,E,G
  • A6 (Hawaiian tuning): A,E,F#
  • G9 (mandolin-type tuning): G,D,A
  • Ultra-low E, E, B

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the various string sizes

Medium gauge acoustic strings (thickest - thinnest = low to high)

E - .056 / A - .045 / D - .035 / G - .026 / B - .017 / E - .013

The numbers are approximate.

Use EAD

Tune: EAC# / EBE / DAD ...

Use ADG Tune: ADF# / AEA / GDG ...

Use GBE

Tune: AC#E / GBD ...

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Three String Tuning Options


Tipcally 3 string guitars use the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings from an acustic guitar set. Weight is a personal option.

Open G



String 3: G
String 2: D
String 1: G
Notes: Classic Blues Tuning. I default to this tuning unless the box is small. I then consider an Open F to get a rounder sound.

Open F



String 3: F
String 2: C
String 1: F
Notes: Use this when an open G has too thin of a sound or cause you want too.

Open E



String 3: E
String 2: B
String 1: E
Notes: This is a fun tune but you may find the strings are too loose. I like the loose twangy sound, sometimes.

Open A



String 3: A
String 2: E
String 1: A
Notes: At this point strings get tights, but don't snap too often. Going to an open B or C may require rethinking what strings are used from the guitar set.

F Ionian



String 3: F
String 2: C
String 1: C
Notes:

F Dorian



String 3: F
String 2: C
String 1: B
Notes:

F Aeolian



String 3: F
String 2: C
String 1: E
Notes:

Four String Tuning Options
Tipcally 4 string guitars use the 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2ed strings from an acustic guitar set unless you are setting up as a Bass. When tuning as a Bass Guitar use the 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings. Weight is a personal option.


Bass



String 4: E
String 3: A
String 2: D
String 1: G
Notes: I love the Bass guitar tune on my 4 string cigar box guitar. It provide's me with an accustic bass in a small size. Have you see the size of an acustic bass? They are HUGE!

Ukulele



String 4: G
String 3: C
String 2: E
String 1: A
Notes: Ukulele's are growing in popularity. However for many of us the fret board is too small as well as the sound. Setting up a cigar box guitar with a Ukulele tune allows big handed people the change to play this fun instrument. Too entice a Ukulele player use light weight strings. Most Ukulele players can't take the weight of bronze strings. Give them something gentle.

Open G (a.k.a. Banjo)



String 4: G
String 3: D
String 2: G
String 1: B
Notes: Like the Open 3 string tunes you can slide notes up or down steps to move to other open keys. This tuning provides Banjo players another instrument and guitar like sound.

Minor Tunings

Open D Minor Tuning:

DADFAD

6 String Open Tunings Which Can Be Applied To A CBG

Gibson Web Site On Tunings

Guitar World Web Site On Tunings

More Tunings

More Open Tunings

Guitar World Web Site On Tunings

Guitar World Web Site On Tunings

Guitar World Web Site On Tunings

Music Folk On Tunings

3 Alternate Tunings

Guitar World What Is Open Tuning?

Slide Guitar Open Tunings