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• Ali Farka Touré tuning •

G-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Associated with late Malian legend Ali Farka Touré (1939-2006), one of the Sahara Desert’s many towering guitar masters. The lowest 6str string is raised by a minor third, up to a G – which can then be used as a drone behind open-toned melodic lines in Gmaj (and its associated modes). […]

 

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• Oud (Arabic) tuning •

E-A-Db-Gb-B-E • OVERVIEW • The Arabic oud (fretless lute) is slightly larger than its Turkish cousin, and consequently takes deeper tunings too. This layout transposes a common Arabic tuning, popular in Syria and the surrounding region (…to jam with the original depth, move everything down 4 semitones: C-F-A-D-G-C).   Note the guitar-like circle of fourths […]

 

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• Rakotomavo tuning •

Bb-F-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Used by Germain Rakotomavo – a Malagasy master known for fusing the folk repertoire of Madagascar’s valiha (tube zither) with more traditionally guitaristic ideas, from jazz chords to the fingerpicking patterns of Chet Atkins & Merle Travis.   In Rakotomavo’s words, EADGBE “doesn’t sing. It’s for playing chords”. His tuning adapts […]

 

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• Godzilla tuning •

Db-Ab-Eb-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Jagged, uneven sequence used on Godzilla by Canadian-Mi’kmaq acoustic star Don Ross. Blends high-end clarity with a touch of bassy slack – ideal for his rhythmic thumb-slapping style.   Brings out tantalising, part-resolving harmonies, mixing perfect intervals (5ths & 4ths) with more dissonant combinations (minor 2nds & 6ths). Features an ultra-rare ‘perfect […]

 

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• Dracula tuning •

C-G-C-F-Bb-D • OVERVIEW • A deepened tuning showcased on Dracula and Friends (Pt. 1) by Mi’kmaq-Canadian fingerstyle virtuoso Don Ross (who thankfully deviated from his original career plan: he was once enrolled in priesthood training at at San Damiano Friary, set to become a Franciscan monk…).   Robust interval pairs, set in neat descending order (perf. […]

 

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• G Standard (‘Terz’) tuning •

G-C-F-Bb-D-G • OVERVIEW • The small, cute ‘Terz guitar’ (or ‘chitarrino’), 10-20% shorter than a Strat and tuned a minor 3rd higher, enjoyed wild popularity in early 19th-century Europe. According to scholar and modern Terzmaster Dr. James Buckland, audiences hailed the tiny axe for its “brilliant tone, fast response, and ability to project through orchestral […]

 

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• F Standard (‘Raise’) tuning •

F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • By accident and design, countless guitarists have ended up tuning a semitone sharp of standard. Raises overall tension by ~12% – giving a fantastic volume boost – but limiting bends, barres, and general fluency, especially on steel-string acoustics.   Works best on lighter-strung, shorter-scale guitars – e.g Les Pauls will handle […]

 

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• Magic Farmer tuning •

C-F-C-G-A-E • OVERVIEW • Another wide-spread tuning from steel-strung magician Michael Hedges, showcased on The Magic Farmer (1984) – the final track of Aerial Boundaries. The pensive, gently-paced composition was a dedication to flautist Mindy Rosenfeld, his then-partner and the mother of his children (‘Rosenfeld’ means ‘field of roses’ in German).   Degrees 1, 3, […]

 

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• Coyote tuning •

C-G-D-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • Gives root to the sensual strums of Coyote, the first track from Joni Mitchell’s 1976 Hejira album – once described by literary academic Dr. Ruth Charnock as “either the most flirtatious song about fucking or the most graphic song about flirting ever written”.   Her tuning is essentially ‘Hejira + Open C’ […]

 

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• Math Rock F tuning •

F-A-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • This gently undulating maj9 sequence doesn’t take much peg-twisting to reach – but the shifts (two single-semitone raises and one double-semitone fall) will immediately put fresh melodic motions on the menu.   While the tension shifts are fairly subtle (with no resting required), you can still feel them: the raised 6+2str […]