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• Rakotomavo tuning •

Bb-F-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Deep tuning by Germain Rakotomavo – a Malagasy master known for fusing the folk repertoire of Madagascar’s valiha (tube zither) with more guitaristic ideas, from jazz harmonies to the picking patterns of Merle Travis. This layout adapts a pattern common to the Antananarivo region and elsewhere (“I raise the B up […]

 

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• Road tuning •

E-A-D-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Nick Drake’s beautifully concise tuning for Road (from 1972’s Pink Moon) – itself a beautifully concise track – is a glorious way to spark up fresh inspiration. Plus, it’s only a single peg-slacken away from Standard…   The ‘suspended‘ open chord is fairly easy to settle into, as the ‘new’ 3str […]

 

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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 just shuffle things up sometimes. Anyway, J.S. Bach – probably the G.O.A.T. of global harmonic development – did similarly, famously ‘signing’ his name in […]

 

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• Icarus tuning •

D-A-D-G-B-C • OVERVIEW • Brings a mystical, floating resonance, resulting from the ‘clustered’ presence of four adjacent diatonic 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 (2>1str) – a rare feature in the wide world of altered tuning (also see Ethereal, Gothic, […]

 

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• Lute (‘Vihuela’) tuning •

E-A-D-F#-B-E • OVERVIEW • The main layout of the Renaissance lute moves Standard tuning’s ‘irregular’ 4-semitone jump back a string, instead placing it right in the middle between 4-3str (i.e. 5>5>4>5>5 vs. 5>5>5>4>5). Reshuffling the same set of intervals (four 4ths and a major 3rd) preserves the same 2-octave open range, and also most of […]

 

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• Overtone Series tuning •

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

 

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• Drop 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 tones of it). Tuning the 6str right down to A – downwards a perfect 5th – will likely bring a strange buzz…but opens up some unique textures and grooves. Some […]