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Unleashing the Melody: Exploring Cigar Box Guitar Tunings and Musical Styles


Cigar box guitars have a rich history rooted in resourcefulness and creativity, emerging from the ingenuity of musicians who repurposed cigar boxes into playable instruments. One of the defining features of these guitars is their versatility in tuning, allowing players to experiment with a myriad of sounds across various musical genres. In this blog post, we'll delve into the diverse tunings used on cigar box guitars and explore the styles of music to which each tuning is best suited.

1. Standard Tuning (Open G or Open D):

- Description: Open G (GDG) and Open D (DAD) are popular standard tunings for cigar box guitars. Open G is achieved by tuning the strings to G, D, and G, while Open D features the notes D, A, and D.

- Suited Styles: Blues and folk music thrive in these tunings, offering players the chance to explore slide guitar techniques. The open nature of these tunings creates a rich, resonant sound that complements the soulful expressions of blues and the storytelling elements of folk.

2. Open E Tuning (EBE):

- Description: In Open E tuning, the strings are tuned to E, B, and E, providing a higher pitch compared to Open G or Open D.

- Suited Styles: Slide guitar enthusiasts often favor Open E tuning for its brighter sound. This tuning lends itself well to Delta blues, country, and even rock, offering a unique tonal palette that suits both raw and refined musical expressions.

3. Four-String GDF#B Tuning:

- Description: By tuning the cigar box guitar to G, D, F#, and B, players create a distinct tuning that facilitates chord-based playing.

- Suited Styles: This tuning is versatile and can be employed in various genres, including jazz, country, and bluegrass. The chord-friendly nature allows for intricate fingerstyle playing, making it an excellent choice for genres that emphasize complex chord progressions.

4. Three-String Open A Tuning (AEA):

- Description: In Open A tuning, the strings are tuned to A, E, and A, providing a different tonal quality compared to the more common G and D tunings.

- Suited Styles: The Open A tuning opens the door to genres like country blues, folk, and Americana. The warm and resonant tones evoke a sense of nostalgia, making it an ideal choice for genres rooted in tradition and storytelling.

5. Custom and Experimental Tunings:

- Description: Cigar box guitar enthusiasts often experiment with custom tunings, pushing the boundaries of traditional setups to create unique sounds.

- Suited Styles: Experimental tunings are perfect for artists seeking to carve out their sonic niche. From avant-garde compositions to experimental rock, these custom tunings allow musicians to explore uncharted territory and define their own musical identity.


The beauty of cigar box guitars lies not only in their humble origins but also in the endless possibilities they offer to musicians. Whether you're drawn to the raw emotion of blues, the storytelling of folk, or the complexity of jazz, there's a tuning for every musical inclination. So, pick up your cigar box guitar, experiment with tunings, and embark on a musical journey that transcends boundaries and embraces the unique voice of this remarkable instrument.


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