line

• 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 […]

 

line

• 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 […]

 

line

• 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 […]

 

line

• Drop DG tuning •

D-G-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A quick-to-reach blend of Standard and Open G, which applies a whole-tone drop to 5str and 6str. This opens up a pair of parallel octaves on 5+3str and 6+4str, ideal for full-bodied vertical movements – while the 4-3-2-1str, unchanged from EADGBE, offer familiar melodic freedoms (n.b. Albert King’s F6 tuning takes […]

 

line

• I Only Said tuning •

E-A-B-G-G-E • OVERVIEW • Used by so-called ‘shoegaze’ pioneers My Bloody Valentine on I Only Said, from 1991’s Loveless (well…we’re almost 100% sure: sometimes it’s hard to know through the swirling fog of pedal effects). Features huge leaps and stark tension differentials, enabling frontman Kevin Shields to bring out drone-stretching microtonal effects with the whammy […]

 

line

• Ead-Gad tuning •

E-A-D-G-A-D   • OVERVIEW • A high-slackened tuning, forming a ‘half-DADGAD’ arrangement (6-5-4str=Standard, 3-2-1str=DADGAD). This gives an ambiguous ‘open harmony’ – it can be seen as either a seventhless D9sus4, fifthless Emin11, thirdless G6/9, secondless Am11, or rootless C6/9 – or an A7sus4 from the parallel octaves on 5+2str.   Great for creating complex chord […]

 

line

• José González tuning •

D-A-D-F#-B-E • OVERVIEW • A blend of ‘Open D + Standard‘ (or ‘Drop D + Lute‘), used by Swedish singer-songwriter José González among others. The lowest four strings provide a solid, stable Dmaj triad (1-5-1-3), while the high-end pair add ambiguity and intrigue (maj. 6th & 2nd) – forming a widened D6/9.   Great for ‘vertical’ […]

 

line

• Icarus tuning •

D-A-D-G-B-C • OVERVIEW • Brings a mystical, floating resonance, resulting from the ‘clustered’ presence of four adjacent diatonic scale tones (4-5-6-b7 on 3-5-2-1str). Its intervals get progressively narrower as you rise in pitch (7>5>5>4>1), ending with a minor 2nd (2>1str) – a rare feature in the wide world of altered tuning (also see Ethereal, Gothic, […]

 

line

• Keola’s C (‘Wahine’) tuning •

C-G-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • An quick-to-reach Open C variant mixing two 5ths and 4ths with a major 3rd. Popular in Hawaii, where it is known as ‘Keola’s C’ after modern slack-key legend Keola Beamer (or C ‘Wahine’. The Honolulu maestro – who hails it as “one of the easiest and most user-friendly” tunings – uses it […]

 

line

• All Fourths (‘Regular’) tuning •

E-A-D-G-C-F • OVERVIEW • A ‘regular’ stack of perfect 4ths (also forming a zigzagging Dmin11 inversion). Essentialy like EADGBE‘s more ‘logical’ cousin – the 3>2str ‘odd one out’ gap is eliminated (5>5>5>5>5), simplifying the fretboard’s geometry, and thus opening up a near-optimal facility for string-shifting mobility. Great for quartal voicings, and the C & F open […]