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• Haja’s Bb (‘Bighand’) tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern-generation guitarist from Madagascar. His exuberant, rhythmic playing style fuses elements from across the island’s wealth of sonic traditions – showcased via breathtaking solo electric performances as well as in his long-running fusion group Solomiral.   His preferred layout (equivalent to Orkney -2), adapted from […]

 

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• Dracula tuning •

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

 

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• Alphabet tuning •

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

 

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• Black Crow tuning •

Bb-Bb-Db-F-A-Bb • OVERVIEW • Deep-sided tuning used by Joni Mitchell for Black Crow, track seven of her 1976 Hejira album – surely among the funkiest drum-less songs of all time (…just the trio of Joni, Jaco Pastorius on bass, and Larry Carlton on electric). Much of the percussive spice instead comes from her own low […]

 

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• Papuan Four-Key tuning •

F-Bb-C-F-A-C • OVERVIEW • New Guinea, just north of Australia, is marked by astonishing linguistic, cultural, and ecological diversities. One of the world’s largest islands, it is home to a quarter of all humanity’s surviving languages, with thousands of communities isolated from each other by volcanic highlands and dense rainforests. The region’s musical cultures overflow […]

 

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• G Standard (‘Terz’) tuning •

G-C-F-Bb-D-G • OVERVIEW • The small, cute ‘Terz guitar’ – around 20% shorter than a modern acoustic, and tuned a minor 3rd higher – enjoyed wild popularity in 19th-century Europe. In the words of modern Terzmaster Dr. James Buckland, audiences of the era hailed the tiny axe for its “brilliant tone, fast response, and ability […]

 

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• Blown a Wish tuning •

F-C-F-Bb-Bb-G • OVERVIEW • An odd DADGAD variant – it is transposed upwards 3 semitones, with 2str dropped into unison with 3str, and 1str raised by a further whole tone (equivalent to ‘DADGGE capo 3’). Showcased by My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on Blown a Wish (with a 1fr capo), track nine from their droning […]

 

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• Albert King F6 tuning •

C-F-C-F-A-D • OVERVIEW • Mighty Mississippi bluesman Albert King (1923-1992) played a right-handed Flying V left-handed, but (unlike his young mega-fan Jimi Hendrix) chose not to restring accordingly…thus leaving everything ‘upside-down’. He experimented with several different tunings over the course of his career, eventually coming to use this layout towards the end of his life […]

 

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• F Standard (‘Raise’) tuning •

F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • Whether by accident or design, countless guitarists have ended up tuning a semitone sharp of Standard. Doing so raises overall tension by ~12%: not enough to necessitate a restring, but still sufficient to give a fantastic volume boost. It will, however, limit bends, barres, and general melodic fluency (as well as […]

 

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• Albert Collins Fm tuning •

F-C-F-Ab-C-F • OVERVIEW • Essentially ‘Open Dm raised by 3 semitones’ – thus matching the interval pattern of a Standard-tuned ‘0-2-2-0-0-0’ Em chord (or, more precisely, a ‘1-3-3-1-1-1’ Fm barre shape). Categorised as a ‘cross-note‘ tuning, as you can easily ‘cross’ from minor to major with the one-finger shape ‘0-0-0-1-0-0’ (whereas in Open Dmaj, the […]