This is probably gonna sound a bit weird, but I'm stuck at my folks' place for the weekend with a guitar that the first two string are both B (no idea how that happened).

I'd still like to play it though. Any idea if there's a way to tune the first B so it behaves like an E? If not, how do I translate the tabs that use the first string to use something else?

  • I would just take the opportunity to experiment with an alternative tuning: two strings tuned to the same pitch can actually give interesting voicings. Don't bother with translating tabs for this though (I'd say, generally don't focus too much on tabs). Just try & error. You may not be able to play the same stuff as on a standard guitar, but that's actually what could be so interesting about this: explore new territory! Feb 20 '16 at 10:42
  • It depends entirely on what actual gauge the top string is. You say it's a B. The standard gauge for a second string is approx. .012/.013, and lighter gauges are less - maybe .011. So you should be able to pull it up to an E. You say it's a B. How do you know? I have to check with a mic.
    – Tim
    Feb 20 '16 at 12:27

Depending on the gauge string, it might be possible to tune a b string to e but probably not advisable.

For one thing, the difference in string tension between the first and second strings would be so dramatic as to potentially affect your playing.

The other issue is the potential to put too much tension on the neck trying to get a thicker string to tune to e. And of course the string may very well break.

One thing you might be able to get away with is tuning the entire guitar down a full step which would increase the likelihood of getting the b string tuned to d instead of e - but it still might break and will be very tight compared to the 2nd string.

If you have a capo or can make one out of rubber bands and a pencil, you could even tune the guitar 2 steps flat and put a capo on the 4th fret. Not ideal but might get you through the weekend.

If you try to tune the b string to e - wear eye protection as you tighten the string so when it snaps, it won't hit you in the eye if it recoils.

If it were me, I would go with the slack tuning for the entire guitar or work on songs that used power chords on the wound strings and did not involve the e string at all.

Good luck and be careful.

  • 1
    I didn't know the first options was possible. It's an acoustic guiatr with nylon strings, so I took the risk :D the newly born e actually sounds ok! Thanks
    – MeLight
    Feb 20 '16 at 10:07
  • I think it's also possible to tune guitar from B instead of E. Thus you won't need to apply too much tension to 1-st string - instead of that other strings would be a bit weak. Guitar would sound a bit funny though )
    – Usurer
    Feb 20 '16 at 14:21
  • @MeLight - Okay - cool. Yes with most nylon strings the tension is much lower to begin with so that was probably your best option. I was thinking steel strings. Glad you are in business for the weekend. Enjoy. Feb 20 '16 at 18:20

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