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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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• 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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• Cabbage tuning •

C-A-Bb-A-G-E • OVERVIEW • C-A-Bb-A-G-E is surprisingly tasty, if rather impractical. Forms a ‘crunchy’ C13 chord…with the root(s) at the bottom. Seems silly, and it definitely is – but it’s essential to playfully shuffle things up sometimes. Anyway, J.S. Bach did much the same, famously ‘signing’ his name in The Art of Fugue as Bb-A-C-B (read […]

 

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• Icarus tuning •

D-A-D-G-B-C • OVERVIEW • Brings a mystical, floating resonance, resulting from the presence of four ‘clustered’ scale tones (4-5-6-b7 on 3-5-2-1str). Its intervals get progressively narrower as you rise in pitch (7>5>5>4>1), ending with a minor 2nd interval (2>1str) – a rare feature in the wide world of altered tunings. Use this harmonic shuffle to […]

 

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• Overtone Series tuning •

G-B-D-F-G-A • OVERVIEW • My ‘squeezed’ sequence of tones 4 to 9 in the harmonic series – if ‘squashed’ to 12-tone equal temperament, they spell out a 9th arpeggio as an ascent-ordered stack of thirds: 1-3-5-b7-9. Bill Sethares’ variant keeps string tension within more sensible bounds, by adding a register-jump in the middle (C-E-G-Bb-C-D). Make […]

 

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• A ‘Slack Thwack’ tuning •

A-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Use the ‘slack thwack’ to access the bass guitar register in your lead playing (well, all but the very lowest 5 notes of it). Tuning the 6str right down to A – downwards a perfect 5th – will bring a strange buzz…but opens up some unique textures and grooves. Some guitars […]