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• Teardrop tuning •

D-A-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • Simple in design, this tuning expands the range of 3-4-5-6str, opening up two perfect 5ths in the process (6>5str and 4>3str). The open chord – a ‘suspended‘ Drop D variant – has an ambiguous character, leaving room for varied explorations.   Demonstrated superbly by José González on his booming nylon-string cover […]

 

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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. This interval pattern transposes a common 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 (across […]

 

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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 bespoke for the makam (melodic framework) in question (n.b. Also see my transposition of a common Arabic Oud tuning: E-A-Db-Gb-B-E).   This layout […]

 

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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, while other local names include kopuz, irisva, balta, and bulgari). Played with a hard cherrywood pick, the frets, often made of fishing line, are moveable – opening up […]

 

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• Haja’s Bb (‘Bighand’) tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern-generation 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 preferred layout (equivalent to Orkney -2), adapted from […]

 

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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 friar…).   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 • My fellow British-based Indian raga explorer Jack Jennings replaces his Strat’s 6+5str with super-light gauges, both tuned to high D tones, in imitation of a sitar‘s chikari: two unfrettable ‘rhythm strings’ on the top side of the large Indian lute, used to add groove and textural colour to the main melody […]

 

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• Road tuning •

E-A-D-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Nick Drake’s beautifully concise tuning for Road (from 1972’s Pink Moon) – itself a beautifully concise track – is a glorious way to spark up fresh inspiration. Plus, it’s only a single peg-slacken away from Standard…   The ‘suspended‘ open chord is fairly easy to settle into, as the ‘new’ 3str […]

 

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• Iris tuning •

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

 

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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 an […]