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Teardrop

D-A-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • Simple in layout, this tuning expands the note range of 3-4-5-6str, opening up two perfect 5ths in the process (6>5str and 4>3str). The open chord – a ‘Drop D sus’ variant – has an ambiguous resonance, giving room for varied explorations in all directions.   Demonstrated superbly by José González on […]

 

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Equilibrium

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Used by solo acoustic master Erik Mongrain on Equilibrium – the architectural title track of his 2008 second album. 6str is slackened to a super-low G, over an octave below 5str – removing ~66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (he strings heavy…).   Brings a harmonically […]

 

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Jack’s Chikari

Ḋ-Ḋ-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Jack Jennings (like me, a UK-based Hindustani guitar explorer) replaces his two lowest strings with super-light .8s, both tuned to high D to mirror the chikari of a sitar – two unfrettable ‘rhythm strings’ on the large Indian lute’s top side, used to add groove and textural colour.   Jack’s ingenious […]

 

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Road

E-A-D-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Nick Drake’s beautifully concise tuning for Road  – itself a beautifully concise track – is a fantastic way to spark fresh chordal inspiration. And it’s only a quick 3str peg-slacken away from Standard…   The E7sus4 ‘open chord’ is fairly easy to adapt to, as the ‘new’ 3str note is just […]

 

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Ten Years

D-E-C-A-D-E • OVERVIEW • One advantage of tuning via spelling is that you can stumble upon fresh, genuinely counterintuitive combinations. ‘Decade’ tuning is a fantastic example of this, placing a wide middle between narrow outer intervals (‘maj & min 6ths sandwiched by 2nds’). Mind the uneven looseness, for example between the slack 5str and super-taut […]

 

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Funky Avocado

B-A-D-G-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘BADGAD’ – essentially ‘drop B DADGAD’ – has been employed by steel-string colossus Michael Hedges on The Funky Avocado, a near-disturbingly groovy duet with fretless bass virtuoso Michael Manring. According to Hedges, “it starts out with a medium R&B tempo, slows down into some heavy rock, and finishes up in a fit […]

 

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Ethereal

D-A-C#-F#-C#-D • OVERVIEW • Introduced by multi-tuned Japanese virtuoso Ichika Nito in 2019. His jagged configuration twists all but the 5str away from Standard – while never taking any of them more than 2 semitones from EADGBE either.   Fantastic for finding fresh melodies and cluster chord voicings – try teasing out the dissonance of […]

 

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Mesopotamian

B-A-G-D-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘I once met a mysterious guitarist from Mesopotamia, who would only teach in his local tuning…’ لول Pattern: 10>10>7>7>5 Harmony: D6(sus4) | 6-5-4-1-5-1 • TUNE UP • [YT] • SOUNDS • The actual music of Baghdad spans a rich variety of sonic and social influences, both ancient and modern. Long renowned […]

 

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Karnivool

B-F#-B-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A fascinating blend of Standard and ‘Drop D (-3)‘, closely associated with Australian prog-rockers Karnivool. According to its creator, longtime lead guitarist Drew Goddard, “I was just messing around with low drop tunings while not paying any attention to the high string. I liked the sequence of natural harmonics you could make…”. […]

 

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C Mauna Loa

C-G-C-G-A-E • OVERVIEW • A C6 known in Hawaiian kī hō’alu (‘slack-key’) guitar as C ‘Mauna Loa’ – the name of the world’s largest active volcano, which has erupted non-stop since rising from the Pacific seabed over 400,000 years ago.   The tuning’s regular stack of three perfect 5ths brings a similarly balanced stability (6>5, 4>3, […]