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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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• Schizophrenia tuning •

F#-F#-G-G-A-A • OVERVIEW • Highly unorthodox droning triad used by Thurston Moore on Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia (1987) – a Joy Division-like song that explores the tuning’s strange slacknesses with long, wordless interludes, replete with dreamy harmonics and a slight microtonal spice. Requires a thinner 4str.   Contains nothing but three sequential diatonic scale tones, all […]

 

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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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• 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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• 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 […]

 

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• Gambale tuning •

A-D-G-C-E-A • OVERVIEW • A restrung, Nashville-style arrangement of the ‘standard’ 5>5>5>4>5 pattern – the whole guitar is raised up by a fourth, and the top two strings are then lowered by an octave. In relative terms: akin to capoing at 12fr, but only across 6-5-4-3str.   Developed by fusion virtuoso Frank Gambale for to […]

 

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• Overtone Series tuning •

G-B-D-F-G-A • OVERVIEW • My ‘squeezed’ sequence of tones 4 to 9 in the harmonic series – if ‘squashed’ to 12-tone equal temperament, they spell out a 9th arpeggio as an ascent-ordered stack of thirds: 1-3-5-b7-9. Bill Sethares’ variant keeps string tension within more sensible bounds, by adding a register-jump in the middle (C-E-G-Bb-C-D). Make […]

 

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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 […]

 

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• All Minor Thirds tuning •

G-Bb-Db-E-G-Bb • OVERVIEW • A ‘regular’ stack of minor 3rds (i.e. 3 semitones separate each string) – forming a diminished 7th arpeggio regardless of which string you start on. These odd symmetrical properties arise because our 12-semitone octave divides neatly into 3 with no remainder – meaning that sequences of 3 fret jumps will always […]