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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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• 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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• Fuji tuning •

Bb-G-D-G-G-D • OVERVIEW • Just one I came across on the GTDB website, submitted as ‘Fuji’ by an anonymous user via an undated post. Tried it, loved it, included it here…   In the words of its unknown creator: “Here’s one I made up…I like to lumber away on the first two strings, and use […]

 

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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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• 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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• Bağlama (‘Saz’) tuning •

G-G-D-D-A-A • OVERVIEW • The bağlama is a three-course lute of variable neck length, popular in Turkish folk music (n.b. nearby cultures call similar variants the saz, and other local names include kopuz, irisva, balta, and bulgari). Played with a cherrywood pick, the frets, made of fishing line, are moveable – opening up infinite microtonal shades. […]

 

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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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• Airtap tuning •

F-A-C-F-C-F • OVERVIEW • Used by Montreal acoustic genius Erik Mongrain to facilitate the virtuosic ‘lap-tapping’ techniques of Airtap!, an oldskool viral favourite (uploaded back in 2006: YouTube’s early days). Like playing piano, bass, & drums on the strings – all at the same time…   The intervallic structure matches the guitar’s ‘classic’ Gmaj shape […]

 

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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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• Haja’s Bb tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern guitarist from Madagascar. His exuberant, rhythmic playing style fuses elements from across the island’s wealth of sonic traditions – showcased via breathtaking solo electric performances as well as in his long-running fusion group Solomiral.   His chosen tuning (equivalent to Orkney -2) forms a […]