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• AirTap! tuning •

F-A-C-F-C-F • OVERVIEW • Used by Montreal acoustic genius Erik Mongrain to facilitate the virtuosic ‘lap-tapping’ techniques of AirTap!, an oldskool viral favourite (uploaded way back in 2006: YouTube’s early days). Like playing piano, bass, & drums on the strings – all at the same time…   The interval structure matches our ‘classic’ Gmaj shape […]

 

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• Wind of Change tuning •

D-D-D-A-D-F# • OVERVIEW • A low-droning variety of Open D, featuring a powerful ‘triple D’ across 6-5-4str: meaning that you have to move vertically (i.e. up and down the neck) to generate melodic motion. Famously used by Peter Frampton on Wind of Change (a semitone down) – although he got the idea via browsing George Harrison’s […]

 

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• Atta’s C tuning •

C-G-E-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • An Open C variant with an odd structure, mixing tense upwindings (4str) with radical slackenings (6str). Associated with the great Hawaiian master Leland ‘Atta’ Isaacs (1929–1983), who used it to inject fresh, jazzy voicings into the kī hō’alu music of his era. Beautifully concise: only three notes are used, but all adjacent […]

 

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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 major triad sequence throughout all the strings in turn. Setting up this way narrows the open-string range to 19 semitones (like Standard minus a string) – but the cycling regularity simplifies the fretboard’s […]

 

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• Banjo (‘Overtones’) 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 […]

 

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• Open F tuning •

C-F-C-F-A-C • OVERVIEW • Open F takes the interval pattern of Open G, and lowers everything by a whole tone. So, while you can use it to play anything from the vast Open G repertoire, it’s worth focusing on its distinctive quirks too. Most importantly, it is much looser (~30% less tension than if the […]

 

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• Open A (‘Spanish’) tuning •

E-A-E-A-C#-E • OVERVIEW • Matches the structure of a Standard-tuned Amaj shape (‘0-0-2-2-2-0’). Open A is like Open G’s ‘electric counterpart’ – it has the same interval sequence, but everything is raised up a whole tone (electric strings are thinner, so can go higher). Also popular amongst acoustic bluesmen of the pre-amplified era, who often […]

 

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• Open E (‘Vestapol’) tuning •

E-B-E-G#-B-E • OVERVIEW • Open E follows the interval structure of a Standard-tuned Emaj chord (‘0-2-2-1-0-0’), thus making it a whole-tone-higher transposition of Open D – a general pattern sometimes known as ‘Vestapol‘ (after its use for an earnest 1854 folk song about the Crimean War, popular in ‘learn guitar’ manuals of late-19th-century North America: […]

 

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• Open C (‘Wide Major’) tuning •

C-G-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Open C (unlike Open D, G, A, and Emaj) doesn’t quite correspond to any of our familiar EADGBE chord shapes – although the interval sequence is closest to the classic ‘x-x-0-2-3-2‘ Dmaj (more precisely: it’s like a ‘Dmaj shape in Drop D, then dropping everything 2 semitones’).   For me, this isn’t […]

 

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• Open G (‘Taro Patch’) tuning •

D-G-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • Resembles a Standard-tuned Amaj shape in terms of interval structure (‘0-0-2-2-2-0’). Gives a more ambiguous resonance than the other ‘main’ maj-chord tuning – Open D – as its major triad is arranged in ‘inverted’ fashion, with the 5th (D) in the bass rather than the G root (which is on 5str). […]