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• Teardrop tuning •

D-A-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • Simple in layout, this tuning expands the note range of 3-4-5-6str, opening up two perfect 5ths in the process (6>5str and 4>3str). The open chord – a ‘Drop D sus’ variant – has an ambiguous resonance, giving room for varied explorations in all directions.   Demonstrated superbly by José González on […]

 

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• Oud (Arabic) tuning •

E-A-Db-Gb-B-E • OVERVIEW • The Arabic oud (fretless lute) is slightly larger than its Turkish cousin, and consequently takes deeper tunings too. This layout transposes a common Arabic tuning, popular in Syria and the surrounding region (…to jam with the original depth, move everything down 4 semitones: C-F-A-D-G-C).   Note the guitar-like circle of fourths […]

 

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• Oud (Turkish) tuning •

E-A-B-E-A-D • OVERVIEW • The Turkish oud (fretless lute) can take many different tunings. Often, the highest four courses (string-doubles) are set to B-E-A-D, while the deepest two tend to be set up bespoke for the makam (melodic framework) in question (n.b. Also see Arabic Oud tuning: E-A-Db-Gb-B-E).   This layout is one way of […]

 

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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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• Haja’s Bb tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern guitarist from Madagascar. His exuberant, rhythmic playing style fuses elements from across the island’s wealth of sonic traditions – showcased via breathtaking solo electric performances as well as in his long-running fusion group Solomiral.   His chosen tuning (equivalent to Orkney -2) forms a […]

 

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• Dracula tuning •

C-G-C-F-Bb-D • OVERVIEW • A deepened tuning showcased on Dracula and Friends (Pt. 1) by Mi’kmaq-Canadian fingerstyle virtuoso Don Ross (who thankfully deviated from his original career plan: he was once enrolled in priesthood training at at San Damiano Friary, set to become a Franciscan monk…).   Robust interval pairs, set in neat descending order (perf. […]

 

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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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• Road tuning •

E-A-D-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Nick Drake’s beautifully concise tuning for Road  – itself a beautifully concise track – is a fantastic way to spark fresh chordal inspiration. And it’s only a quick 3str peg-slacken away from Standard…   The E7sus4 ‘open chord’ is fairly easy to adapt to, as the ‘new’ 3str note is just […]

 

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• Iris tuning •

B-D-D-D-D-D • OVERVIEW • Unique droning arrangement created by the Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik for Iris, the group’s smash-hit power ballad from 1998. Balances purity and dissonance: while the 5-1str are all tuned to D, the 6str is taken right down to a superlow B – providing a narrow, crunchy minor 3rd gap between the […]

 

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• Hejira tuning •

C-G-D-F-G-C • OVERVIEW • Joni Mitchell’s setting for the divine arpeggiations of Hejira, released on her 1976 album of the same name. The title derives from an Arabic word (hijra / الهجرة), signifying departure or migration – particularly the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina. Joni came across the term while flicking through a […]