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• Ali Farka Touré tuning •

G-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Associated with late Malian legend Ali Farka Touré (1939-2006), one of the Sahara Desert’s many towering guitar masters. The 6str is raised by a minor third, up to a G – which can then be used as a drone behind open-toned melodic lines in Gmaj (and its associated modes).   Touré’s […]

 

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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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• Lute (‘Vihuela’) tuning •

E-A-D-F#-B-E • OVERVIEW • The main layout of the Renaissance lute moves Standard tuning’s ‘irregular’ 4-semitone jump back a string, instead placing it right in the middle between 4-3str (i.e. 5>5>4>5>5 vs. 5>5>5>4>5). Reshuffling the same set of intervals (four 4ths and a major 3rd) preserves the same 2-octave open range, and also most of […]

 

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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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• Drop A (‘Slack Thwack’) tuning •

A-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Use the ‘slack thwack’ to access the bass guitar register in your lead playing (well, all but the very lowest 5 tones of it). Tuning the 6str right down to A – downwards a perfect 5th – will likely bring a strange buzz…but opens up some unique textures and grooves. Some […]

 

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• Drop C (‘Neon’) tuning •

C-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Dropping the 6str down four frets is simple – but will give you a different perspective on how the other open-string tones can fit together. Swapping the low E to a low C turns EADGBE’s somewhat vacant-sounding Em7(add11) open chord into a sultry, jazz-laden Cmaj9(13) voicing.   This drop makes it significantly […]

 

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• Drop D tuning •

D-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Probably the first altered tuning you ever learned. Easy to remember, simple to reach from Standard, and innately fun to jam in across a countless range of genres. Notably, 6-5-4str form a ‘straight line’ power chord, with the slackness of the 6str bringing subtle pitch instabilities when strummed hard (looser, lower […]