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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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• Gambale tuning •

A-D-G-C-E-A • OVERVIEW • A high-strung, Nashville-style reshuffle of the ‘Standard’ 5>5>5>4>5 sequence – the whole guitar is raised up by a perfect 4th, and 1-2str are then lowered an octave from there (in relative terms: akin to capoing at 12fr, but only across 6-5-4-3str).   Developed by Australian fusion virtuoso Frank Gambale as part […]

 

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• Mi-composé (‘Elenga’) tuning •

E-A-Ḋ-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Used by flamboyant 1950s Congolese guitarist Zacharie Elenga, a.k.a. ‘Jhimmy the Hawaiian‘ – self-styled after country star Jimmie Rodgers (already a global icon), and his own virtuosic brand of thumb-and-index picking (which, while formidable, had little to do with the ‘slack-key‘ traditions of Hawaii). His tuning raises D3str by a full […]

 

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• Nashville tuning •

Ė-Ȧ-Ḋ-Ġ-B-E • OVERVIEW • A part-transposition of Standard, which retains the same notes while raising 6-5-4-3str up a full octave. This halves the range (12 vs. 24 semitones), and also radically shuffles up the order of the tones (low>high: 6, 5, 2, 4, 1, 3str) – essentially like a 12-string with the lower of each pair […]

 

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• B Standard (‘Baritone’) tuning •

B-E-A-D-Gb-B • OVERVIEW • ‘Baritone’ guitars – around 10-20% longer than normal – take correspondingly deepened tunings, typically set 4 to 9 semitones below Standard. Among the most popular is this ‘low B‘ layout, which drops everything down 5 frets (a perfect 4th): thus extending the bass by an ‘extra string’s worth’ (while subtracting the […]

 

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• C Standard tuning •

C-F-Bb-Eb-G-C • OVERVIEW • Tuning ‘four semitones down’ from Standard opens up a radically slacker feel (~35% lower tension). Subtler, quieter, and easier on the hands, with a messy expressive freedom – but without a restring, you’ll probably encounter some fret-buzz and pitch instability (…use them to your advantage!). Ideal for C-rooted music, as well […]

 

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• Db Standard (‘Iommi’) tuning •

Db-Gb-B-E-Ab-Db • OVERVIEW • Aged 17, future Sabbath star Tony Iommi lost his middle and ring fingertips in a sheet-metal factory accident. His DIY ‘thimble-tip’ prosthetics – fashioned from a melted-down soap bottle and cut-up leather jacket – didn’t take to the tensions of vigorous lead playing too well, causing him to experiment with thinner […]

 

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• D Standard (‘Tone Down’) tuning •

D-G-C-F-A-D • OVERVIEW • Dropping Standard two semitones lower decreases string tension by around 20%: lessening volume, but opening up wider bends, longer sustain, and feather-light vibratos. The overall ease of fretting allows for electric-style freedoms on the acoustic, while also reducing strain on the hands: I found it invaluable when returning from an injury-induced […]

 

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• Eb Standard (‘Hendrix’) tuning •

Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb • OVERVIEW • Eb Standard, while most famously showcased by Jimi Hendrix in the late 1960s, has been in use for centuries. Countless artists have tuned ‘one semitone down’ over the ages – both as a timbral/register choice, and as a method of safely breaking in new strings on any chorded instrument. Total tension […]