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• Equilibrium tuning •

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Showcased 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 the neighbouring 5str: removing around 66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (without a restring). Read on for […]

 

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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 separations (minor 2nds & 6ths). Features an ultra-rare ‘perfect […]

 

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• Alphabet tuning •

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

 

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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’ – 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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• F Standard (‘Raise’) tuning •

F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • Whether by accident or design, countless guitarists have ended up tuning a semitone sharp of Standard. Doing so raises overall tension by ~12%: not enough to necessitate a restring, but still sufficient to give a fantastic volume boost. It will, however, limit bends, barres, and general melodic fluency (as well as […]

 

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• Funky Avocado tuning •

B-A-D-G-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘BADGAD’ – essentially ‘drop B DADGAD’ – was showcased 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, forming a ‘half-DADGAD’ arrangement (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 chord […]

 

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• Ghost Reveries tuning •

D-A-D-F-A-E • OVERVIEW • A spacious Open Dm variant, which retains Standard’s E1str tone to give a minor 9th open harmony. Great for chord voicings which combine intricate high extensions with robust bass structures – with note-shuffling added by the tuning’s irregular interval sequence (a 4th, min. 3rd, and a maj. 3rd, sandwiched by two 5ths). […]

 

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• Gothic tuning •

Eb-G-D-A-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • Introduced by Japanese solo star 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 <12fr>, <7fr>, &<5fr>, and sliding […]