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• Equilibrium tuning •

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Used by solo acoustic master Erik Mongrain on Equilibrium – the architectural title track of his 2008 second album. 6str is slackened to a super-low G, over an octave below 5str – removing ~66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (he strings heavy…).   Brings a harmonically […]

 

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• Yvette’s Dadd9 tuning •

D-A-D-F#-A-E • OVERVIEW • A melodious Open D variant, which retains Standard’s high E1str tone to give a spacious Dadd9 voicing. Pleasingly, the 6-2str intervals are arranged in descending order of width, narrowing in neat sequence as you ascend (7>5>4>3: 5th > 4th > maj. 3rd > min. 3rd) – until you encounter the unexpectedly […]

 

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• Funky Avocado tuning •

B-A-D-G-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘BADGAD’ – essentially ‘drop B DADGAD’ – has been employed by steel-string colossus Michael Hedges on The Funky Avocado, a near-disturbingly groovy duet with fretless bass virtuoso Michael Manring. According to Hedges, “it starts out with a medium R&B tempo, slows down into some heavy rock, and finishes up in a fit […]

 

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• Math Rock F tuning •

F-A-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • This gently undulating maj9 sequence doesn’t take much peg-twisting to reach – but the shifts (two single-semitone raises and one double-semitone fall) will immediately put fresh melodic motions on the menu.   While the tension shifts are fairly subtle (with no resting required), you can still feel them: the raised 6+2str […]

 

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• Karnivool tuning •

B-F#-B-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A fascinating blend of Standard and ‘Drop D (-3)‘, closely associated with Australian prog-rockers Karnivool. According to its creator, longtime lead guitarist Drew Goddard, “I was just messing around with low drop tunings while not paying any attention to the high string. I liked the sequence of natural harmonics you could make…”. […]

 

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• Bruce Palmer (‘Judy Blue Eyes’) tuning •

E-E-E-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Two-tone drone tuning, often known as ‘Bruce Palmer (modal)’ after its creator, Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer (1946-2004). Famously showcased by his Buffalo bandmate Stephen Stills at Woodstock, anchoring David Crosby & Graham Nash’s soaring vocal harmonies on the rhapsodic, romantic Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.   Forms a many-rooted E5 power chord – […]

 

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• Cello (‘Haircut’) tuning •

C-G-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • While the highest two strings of this tuning are left as Standard, the rest are ‘widened’ in range to form a stack of perfect 5ths across 6-5-4-3str – thus matching the tuning of a cello. The treble side also gives open-string access to the next 5th up in the sequence, between […]

 

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• Only Shallow tuning •

E-B-E-Gb-B-E • OVERVIEW • Though relatively rare, this open Esus2 layout’s distinctive maj 2nd interval opens up unique melodic and harmonic possibilities. Most famously used to create the droning shoegaze wails of My Bloody Valentine’s iconic Only Shallow.   Given the snappability of the raised 4+5str, acoustic steel-stringers are best advised to transpose everything down a tone, […]

 

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• Square-Neck Dobro tuning •

G-B-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • Dobros, resonators, banjos, and 7-string ‘Russian guitars’ often take ‘repeated’ open G tunings – such as ‘looping’ a G-B-D maj triad sequence throughout all the strings in turn. Setting up your guitar this way narrows the open-string range to 19 semitones (5 fewer than Standard) – but the cycling regularity simplifies […]

 

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• Banjo tuning •

G-G-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • Like ‘normal’ Open G, but with 6str tuned to G rather than D, either upwards or downwards. This takes the open harmony into ‘uninverted’ territory (i.e. the open Gmaj chord now has a G in the bass). Whether set as octaves or unisons, the adjacent Gs (6+5str) beef up the low […]