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• Haja’s Bb tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern 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 chosen tuning (equivalent to Orkney -2) forms a […]

 

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

 

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• Alphabet tuning •

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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• 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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• G Standard (‘Terz’) tuning •

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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• 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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• F Standard (‘Raise’) tuning •

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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• Albert Collins tuning •

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

 

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• Zigzag Thirds (Minor) tuning •

F-Ab-C-Eb-G-Bb • OVERVIEW • A ‘stack of thirds’, alternating between minor and major (i.e. semitone gaps of 3, 4, 3, 4, 3). Proposed by Greek mathematician Dr. Costas Kyritsis as an ideal landscape for simplifying the shapes of all common diatonic chords – a logical point, given that much of Western harmony is built from […]

 

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• Gambale tuning •

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 […]