Tree String Guitar

The inaugural 4ist Guitars build is complete, and I am really happy with the result. There was a moment when I first put the strings on that I was terrified that it was not going to be good enough. The action was too high and the strings were just barely touching the bridge. I had to re-imagine how I used the hinge tailpiece so that the balls at the end of the string didn’t push the hinge up. I really like the resulting design.

This is the first three string I have built with full fretting. I have done 4 string and 6 string guitars that were fully fretted, but all of my 3 string guitars have had dulcimer fretting. I was tempted to do the dulcimer fretting on this one as well, but I am really glad that I didn’t; it is just so fun to have the versatility of all the frets with the simplicity of just 3 strings. It’s like the blues just pour out of it. I have already come up with a bunch of new tunes and licks, and I am working on a song I think I’ll call “My Kids Won’t Take a Nap Blues”.

IMG_1972The pickups also turned
out really well. I have used small speakers for pickups before (Paul’s “Lucille,” for instance), but they have been a little underpowered and prone to squealage. For this one, I wired two speakers in parallel and that seems to have solved both problems. The guitar is just as loud through an amp at half the volume level as with a single speaker, and I have yet to get any squealing (Paul, next time I see you I’ll bring my soldering iron and another speaker for Lucille). One speaker is from a talking greeting card I got for my birthday (Thanks, Phil and Lura!) and the other was from a portable dvd player that I put my knee through on accident over Christmas break( #repurpose).

IMG_1971The tuning machines on this one are nicer than the ones that I have used previously, so I keep having to remind myself that the string is still attached when the knob feels like there is no resistance. I took the machines off of a DIY guitar that I bought at Second Chance Books here in Independence. I was a little reluctant to take that guitar apart, as it was project that the guy who worked there had done with his son. Unfortunately, they had used pressboard for the body of the guitar, which completely killed the sound. I made sure to let him know that I would be taking it apart, and he was gracious enough to sell it to me for the cost of the parts I would be using.  I felt pressure to make something that justified taking that instrument apart throughout the build, and am relieved that it seems I was able to do that.

Take a listen:

If you are interested in buying the Tree String, email me at I am asking $250.


Here are the Tree String specs:

Strings: 3

Fretting: First octave – full, second octave – dulcimer

Neck: White Oak

Pickups: 2 Speakers mounted under the bridge

Nut and Saddle: Bone

Box: Macanudo Crystal Cafe

Stain: Steel Wool and Vinegar

Finish: Tung Oil

Scale: 23.5″


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