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Fuji

Bb-G-D-G-G-D • OVERVIEW • Just one I came across on the GTDB website, submitted as ‘Fuji’ by an anonymous user via an undated post. Tried it, loved it, included it here…   In the words of its unknown creator: “Here’s one I made up…I like to lumber away on the first two strings, and use […]

 

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Rakotomavo

Bb-F-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Used by Germain Rakotomavo – a Malagasy master known for fusing the folk repertoire of Madagascar’s valiha (tube zither) with more traditionally guitaristic ideas, from jazz chords to the fingerpicking patterns of Chet Atkins & Merle Travis.   In Rakotomavo’s words, EADGBE “doesn’t sing. It’s for playing chords”. His tuning adapts […]

 

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Godzilla

Db-Ab-Eb-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Jagged, uneven sequence used on Godzilla by Canadian-Mi’kmaq acoustic star Don Ross. Blends high-end clarity with a touch of bassy slack – ideal for his rhythmic thumb-slapping style.   Brings out tantalising, part-resolving harmonies, mixing perfect intervals (5ths & 4ths) with more dissonant combinations (minor 2nds & 6ths). Features an ultra-rare ‘perfect […]

 

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Magic Farmer

C-F-C-G-A-E • OVERVIEW • Another wide-spread tuning from steel-strung magician Michael Hedges, showcased on The Magic Farmer (1984) – the final track of Aerial Boundaries. The pensive, gently-paced composition was a dedication to flautist Mindy Rosenfeld, his then-partner and the mother of his children (‘Rosenfeld’ means ‘field of roses’ in German).   Degrees 1, 3, […]

 

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Carnatic Drone

B-E-B-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Distinctive drone, used prominently on acoustic by Nick Drake – and on electric by ‘Guitar’ Prasanna, a South Indian virtuoso acclaimed for playing Carnatic classical ragas on his Epiphone (in Guthrie Govan’s words, “If you don’t know about Prasanna, prepare to be terrified…”).   South India’s classical melodies tend to move in […]

 

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Cabbage

C-A-Bb-A-G-E • OVERVIEW • C-A-Bb-A-G-E is surprisingly tasty, if rather impractical. Forms a ‘crunchy’ C13 chord…with the root(s) at the bottom. Seems silly, and it definitely is – but it’s essential to playfully shuffle things up sometimes. Anyway, J.S. Bach did much the same, famously ‘signing’ his name in The Art of Fugue as Bb-A-C-B (read […]

 

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Papa-Papa

D-A-D-D-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘Double-dad’ tuning is handily symmetrical, mirroring its ‘D-A-D’ pattern across the guitar’s centre line to form a stacked D power chord.  (like a double-decker sandwich filled with ‘A’). Only one string differs from the more famous DADGAD – the 3str is lowered by a fourth, going super-slack to add psychedelic phasing […]

 

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Lefty Flip / Mirrored

E-B-G-D-A-E • OVERVIEW • Spare a thought for left-handed guitarists everywhere – though they can count Hendrix, Iommi, Cobain, McCartney, and many other six-stringed innovators among them, this comes as little solace whenever there’s only a ‘normal’ guitar lying around to jam on at a party.   This ‘mirror of standard’ is an intriguing workaround: […]

 

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Zen Drone

D-A-D-A-A-D • OVERVIEW • Author, educator, and NYC busker Philip Toshio Sudo (1958-2002) included this two-tone drone in his famous 1997 book Zen Guitar, intended as a gateway to spontaneous improvisation for beginners. I applaud his participative philosophy, and the general freedom of the tuning…but you gotta be careful not to ruin the calm by […]

 

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Atta’s C

C-G-E-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • An Open C variant with an odd structure, mixing tense upwindings (4str) with radical slackenings (6str). Associated with the great Hawaiian master Leland ‘Atta’ Isaacs Sr. (1929–1983), who used it to inject fresh, jazzy voicings into the slack-key music of his era.   Beautifully concise: only three notes are used, but […]