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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. This interval pattern transposes a common 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 (across […]

 

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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 bespoke for the makam (melodic framework) in question (n.b. Also see my transposition of a common Arabic Oud tuning: E-A-Db-Gb-B-E).   This layout […]

 

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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, while other local names include kopuz, irisva, balta, and bulgari). Played with a hard cherrywood pick, the frets, often made of fishing line, are moveable – opening up […]

 

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• Kabosy (‘Leonard’s C’) tuning •

 C-G-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • The kabosy is a small box-lute played in Madagascar, likely descended from the Arabic oud (thus implying it is also a much-removed cousin of the European guitar and lute). Often made from scavenged materials such as scrap metal, fishing line, and bicycle brake cables, most designs have 4-6 strings, set over […]

 

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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 • My fellow British-based Indian raga explorer Jack Jennings replaces his Strat’s 6+5str with super-light gauges, both tuned to high D tones, in imitation of a sitar‘s chikari: two unfrettable ‘rhythm strings’ on the top side of the large Indian lute, used to add groove and textural colour to the main melody […]

 

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• G Standard (‘Terz’) tuning •

G-C-F-Bb-D-G • OVERVIEW • The small, cute ‘Terz guitar’ – around 20% shorter than a modern acoustic, and tuned a minor 3rd higher – enjoyed wild popularity in 19th-century Europe. In the words of modern Terzmaster Dr. James Buckland, audiences of the era hailed the tiny axe for its “brilliant tone, fast response, and ability […]

 

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• Carnatic (‘Drake’s Drone’) tuning •

B-E-B-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Distinctive drone used prominently on the acoustic by Nick Drake – and on the electric by ‘Guitar’ Prasanna, a South Indian virtuoso acclaimed for playing Carnatic classical ragas on his Epiphone (in Guthrie Govan’s words, “If you don’t know about Prasanna, prepare to be terrified…”).   Highly versatile despite offering only two […]

 

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• Cello (‘Haircut’) tuning •

C-G-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • While the highest two strings of this tuning are left as Standard, the rest are ‘widened’ in range to form a stack of perfect 5ths across 6-5-4-3str – thus matching the tuning of a cello. The treble side also gives open-string access to the next 5th in the sequence: between 3-1str […]

 

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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 […]