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Dracula

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 monk…).   Robust interval pairs, set in neat descending order (perf. […]

 

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Alphabet

A-B-C-D-E-F • OVERVIEW • While admittedly easy to remember, ‘Alphabet’ tuning isn’t exactly the most melodically (or physically) practical. Nevertheless, there is always value to be found in embracing some creative chaos – in this case, via the arbitrary nature of ‘Alpha-melodic’ tunings (i.e. with notes chosen via some spelling-based method).   These oddball approaches can serve as […]

 

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G Standard / Terz

G-C-F-Bb-D-G • OVERVIEW • The small, cute ‘Terz guitar’ (or ‘chitarrino’), 10-20% shorter than a Strat and tuned a minor 3rd higher, enjoyed wild popularity in early 19th-century Europe. According to scholar and modern Terzmaster Dr. James Buckland, audiences hailed the tiny axe for its “brilliant tone, fast response, and ability to project through orchestral […]

 

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F Standard

F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • By accident and design, countless guitarists have ended up tuning a semitone sharp of standard. Raises overall tension by ~12% – giving a fantastic volume boost – but limiting bends, barres, and general fluency, especially on steel-string acoustics.   Works best on lighter-strung, shorter-scale guitars – e.g Les Pauls will handle […]

 

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Gambale

A-D-G-C-E-A • OVERVIEW • A restrung, Nashville-style arrangement of the ‘standard’ 5>5>5>4>5 pattern – the whole guitar is raised up by a fourth, and the top two strings are then lowered by an octave. In relative terms: akin to capoing at 12fr, but only across 6-5-4-3str.   Developed by fusion virtuoso Frank Gambale for to […]

 

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Open Fm

C-F-C-F-Ab-C • OVERVIEW • A rare, slackened transposition of Open Gmin: the same interval pattern is lowered by a tone. Another species of ‘cross-note’ tuning – as you can easily ‘cross over’ to playing in Fmaj as 0-0-0-0-1-0 (whereas the inverse maj>min flip in Open F/Open G is less straightforward). As is characteristic for this tuning family, harmonic […]

 

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Open F

C-F-C-F-A-C • OVERVIEW • Open F takes the interval shape of Open G, and lowers everything by a whole tone. So, while you can use it to play anything from the vast Open G repertoire, it’s worth focusing on its distinctive quirks too. Most importantly, it is much looser (~30% less tension than if the […]

 

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Full Drop C

C-G-C-F-A-D • OVERVIEW • The same pattern as Drop D, but everything is then moved down two semitones. Brings a loose, chaotic, imperfect texture: total string tension is lowered by around 25% – equivalent to a ~40lb drop on an acoustic (total string tension on a steel-string can often top 180lb/82kg…no wonder you need a […]

 

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B Standard / Baritone

B-E-A-D-Gb-B • OVERVIEW • In keeping with heavy rock’s ‘ever lower’ trend, many Scandinavian death metal groups (‘ragnarok-ers’?) were tuning right down to B by the 90s, stringing heavier and often adding a 7th to accommodate. Still popular on the global metal scene today.   Also used on ‘baritone’ guitars, which have a 5-10% longer scale length […]

 

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C Standard

C-F-Bb-Eb-G-C • OVERVIEW • Tuning ‘four frets down’ opens up a radically slacker feel (~35% lower tension). Quieter, subtler, with a loose, messy expressive freedom – but without restringing, most guitars will have at least some issues with intonation and buzz (…use them to your advantage!).   Jazz guitarist John Stowell explains how the ear […]