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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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• Papuan Four-Key tuning •

F-Bb-C-F-A-C • OVERVIEW • New Guinea, just north of Australia, is marked by astonishing linguistic, cultural, and ecological diversities. One of the world’s largest islands, it is home to a quarter of all humanity’s surviving languages, with thousands of communities isolated from each other by volcanic highlands and dense rainforests. The region’s musical cultures overflow […]

 

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• Place to Be tuning •

C-G-C-F-G-E • OVERVIEW • Used to give life to the legato-tinged cluster voicings of Nick Drake’s Place to Be – the second track from 1972’s Pink Moon, his third and final album. Almost identical to his tuning for the title track: the only difference being that here, 2str is a full 5 semitones lower – decreasing […]

 

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• Pink Moon tuning •

C-G-C-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • A resonant Open C variant, with 1str left at E to create a wide-spread Cmaj11 voicing. Used by enigmatic English folkster Nick Drake for Pink Moon, the opening track of his 1972 album of the same name: capoed at 2fr, and slightly sharp of concert pitch (n.b. lower 2str by 5 […]

 

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• Coyote tuning •

C-G-D-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • Gives root to the sensual strums of Coyote, the first track from Joni Mitchell’s 1976 Hejira album – once described by literary academic Dr. Ruth Charnock as “either the most flirtatious song about fucking or the most graphic song about flirting ever written”.   Her tuning is essentially ‘Hejira + Open C’ […]

 

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• Math Rock F tuning •

F-A-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • This gently undulating maj9 sequence doesn’t take much peg-twisting to reach – but the shifts (two single-semitone raises and one double-semitone fall) will immediately put fresh melodic motions on the menu.   While the tension shifts are fairly subtle (no restring is required), you can still feel them: the 6+2str are […]

 

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• Zigzag Thirds (Major) tuning •

F-A-C-E-G-B • OVERVIEW • A ‘stack of thirds’, alternating between major and minor (i.e. semitone gaps of ‘4, 3, 4, 3, 4’). Proposed by Greek mathematician Dr. Costas Kyritsis as an ideal landscape for simplifying the shapes of all common diatonic chords – a logical point, given that much of Western harmony is built from […]

 

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• Ethereal tuning •

D-A-C#-F#-C#-D • OVERVIEW • Introduced by multi-tuning Japanese virtuoso Ichika Nito in 2019. His jagged configuration twists all but the 5str away from Standard – while never taking any of them more than 2 semitones from this starting point.   Fantastic for fresh major-key melodies and extended chord shapes. Try teasing out the dissonance of the […]

 

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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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• Keola’s C (‘Wahine’) tuning •

C-G-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • An quick-to-reach Open C variant mixing two 5ths and 4ths with a major 3rd. Popular in Hawaii, where it is known as ‘Keola’s C’ after modern slack-key legend Keola Beamer (or C ‘Wahine’. The Honolulu maestro – who hails it as “one of the easiest and most user-friendly” tunings – uses it […]