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• Equilibrium tuning •

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Used by solo acoustic master Erik Mongrain on Equilibrium – the architectural title track of his 2008 second album. 6str is slackened to a super-low G, over an octave below 5str – removing ~66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (he strings heavy…).   Brings a harmonically […]

 

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• Godzilla tuning •

Db-Ab-Eb-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Jagged, uneven sequence used on Godzilla by Canadian-Mi’kmaq acoustic star Don Ross. Blends high-end clarity with a touch of bassy slack – ideal for his rhythmic thumb-slapping style.   Brings out tantalising, part-resolving harmonies, mixing perfect intervals (5ths & 4ths) with more dissonant combinations (minor 2nds & 6ths). Features an ultra-rare ‘perfect […]

 

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• Alphabet tuning •

A-B-C-D-E-F • OVERVIEW • While admittedly easy to remember, ‘Alphabet’ tuning isn’t exactly the most melodically (or physically) practical. Nevertheless, there is always value to be found in embracing some creative chaos – in this case, via the arbitrary nature of ‘Alpha-melodic’ tunings (i.e. with notes chosen via some spelling-based method).   These oddball approaches can serve as […]

 

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• Black Crow tuning •

Bb-Bb-Db-F-A-Bb • OVERVIEW • Deep-sided tuning used by Joni Mitchell for Black Crow, track seven of her 1976 Hejira album – surely among the funkiest drum-less songs of all time (…just the trio of Joni, Jaco Pastorius on bass, and Larry Carlton on electric). Much of the percussive spice instead comes from her own low […]

 

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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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• F Standard (‘Raise’) tuning •

F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • By accident and design, countless guitarists have ended up tuning a semitone sharp of standard. Raises overall tension by ~12% – giving a fantastic volume boost – but limiting bends, barres, and general fluency, especially on steel-string acoustics.   Works best on lighter-strung, shorter-scale guitars – e.g Les Pauls will handle […]

 

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• Funky Avocado tuning •

B-A-D-G-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘BADGAD’ – essentially ‘drop B DADGAD’ – has been employed by steel-string colossus Michael Hedges on The Funky Avocado, a near-disturbingly groovy duet with fretless bass virtuoso Michael Manring. According to Hedges, “it starts out with a medium R&B tempo, slows down into some heavy rock, and finishes up in a fit […]

 

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• Ead-Gad tuning •

E-A-D-G-A-D • OVERVIEW • A high-slackened tuning that essentially forms a ‘half-DADGAD’ layout (6-5-4str=Standard, 3-2-1str=DADGAD). This gives an ambiguous ‘open harmony’ – it can be seen as either a seventhless D9sus4, fifthless Emin11, thirdless G6/9, secondless Am11, or rootless C6/9 – or an A7sus4 from the parallel octaves on 5+2str.   Great for creating complex […]

 

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• Gothic tuning •

Eb-G-D-A-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • Introduced by Japanese axeman Ichika Nito to explore fresh avenues of his imaginative electric fingerpicking style. With a different tone on each string, it offers up a complex chordal canvas.   Only 4str stays familiar from Standard. Try raking through the divine natural harmonics at <12/7/5fr>, and sliding up and down […]

 

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• Zigzag Thirds (Minor) tuning •

F-Ab-C-Eb-G-Bb • OVERVIEW • A ‘stack of thirds’, alternating between minor and major (i.e. semitone gaps of 3, 4, 3, 4, 3). 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 […]