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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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• 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 • Jack Jennings (like me, a UK-based Hindustani guitar explorer) replaces his two lowest strings with super-light .8s, both tuned to high D to mirror the chikari of a sitar – two unfrettable ‘rhythm strings’ on the large Indian lute’s top side, used to add groove and textural colour.   Jack’s ingenious […]

 

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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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• Carnatic (‘Drake’s Drone’) tuning •

B-E-B-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Distinctive drone, used prominently on acoustic by Nick Drake – and on 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…”).   South India’s classical melodies tend to move in […]

 

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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 up in the sequence, between […]

 

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• Square-Neck Dobro tuning •

G-B-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • Dobros, resonators, banjos, and 7-string ‘Russian guitars’ often take ‘repeated’ open G tunings – such as ‘looping’ a G-B-D maj triad sequence throughout all the strings in turn. Setting up your guitar this way narrows the open-string range to 19 semitones (5 fewer than Standard) – but the cycling regularity simplifies […]

 

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• Banjo tuning •

G-G-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • Like ‘normal’ Open G, but with 6str tuned to G rather than D, either upwards or downwards. This takes the open harmony into ‘uninverted’ territory (i.e. the open Gmaj chord now has a G in the bass). Whether set as octaves or unisons, the adjacent Gs (6+5str) beef up the low […]