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• Teardrop tuning •

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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• Oud (Turkish) tuning •

E-A-B-E-A-D • OVERVIEW • The Turkish oud (fretless lute) can take many different tunings. Often, the highest four courses (string-doubles) are set to B-E-A-D, while the deepest two tend to be set up bespoke for the makam (melodic framework) in question (n.b. Also see Arabic Oud tuning: E-A-Db-Gb-B-E).   This layout is one way of […]

 

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• Equilibrium tuning •

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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• Yvette’s Dadd9 tuning •

D-A-D-F#-A-E • OVERVIEW • A melodious Open D variant, which retains Standard’s high E1str tone to give a spacious Dadd9 voicing. Pleasingly, the 6-2str intervals are arranged in descending order of width, narrowing in neat sequence as you ascend (7>5>4>3: 5th > 4th > maj. 3rd > min. 3rd) – until you encounter the unexpectedly […]

 

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• Charango tuning •

G-G-C-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Mimics a common tuning of the charango: a small 10-string lute found in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and elsewhere in the Andean region. A distant cousin of the guitar, the charango’s strings are ‘paired’ into 5 courses (like a 12-string) – and tuned to cluster within the span of a single […]

 

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• Jack’s Chikari (‘Sitaristic’) tuning •

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 tuning •

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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• Black Crow tuning •

Bb-Bb-Db-F-A-Bb • OVERVIEW • Deep-sided tuning used by Joni Mitchell for Black Crow, track seven of her 1976 Hejira album – surely among the funkiest drum-less songs of all time (…just the trio of Joni, Jaco Pastorius on bass, and Larry Carlton on electric). Much of the percussive spice instead comes from her own low […]

 

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• Ten Years tuning •

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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• Drop DG tuning •

D-G-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A quick-to-reach blend of Standard and Open G, which applies a two-semitone drop to 5str and 6str. This opens up a useful pair of parallel octaves on 5/3str and 6/4str, ideal for full-bodied vertical movements – while the 4-3-2-1str, unchanged from EADGBE, offer familiar-shaped melodic freedoms (n.b. Albert King tuning is […]