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• Fuji tuning •

Bb-G-D-G-G-D • OVERVIEW • An unorthodox Gmin inversion I came across while browsing the GTDB site for little-used layouts, submitted under the name ‘Fuji’ by a nameless user in an undated post. Tried it, loved it, included it here…   In the words of its anonymous creator: “Here’s one I made up…I like to lumber […]

 

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• Equilibrium tuning •

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Showcased 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 the neighbouring 5str: removing around 66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (without a restring). Read on for […]

 

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• Rakotomavo tuning •

Bb-F-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Deep tuning by Germain Rakotomavo – a Malagasy master known for fusing the folk repertoire of Madagascar’s valiha (tube zither) with more guitaristic ideas, from jazz harmonies to the picking patterns of Merle Travis. This layout adapts a pattern common to the Antananarivo region and elsewhere (“I raise the B up […]

 

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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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• Magic Farmer tuning •

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

 

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• Place to Be tuning •

C-G-C-F-G-E • OVERVIEW • Used to give life to the legato-tinged cluster voicings of Nick Drake’s Place to Be – the second track from 1972’s Pink Moon, his third and final album. Almost identical to his tuning for the title track: the only difference being that here, 2str is a full 5 semitones lower – decreasing […]

 

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• Pink Moon tuning •

C-G-C-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • A resonant Open C variant, with 1str left at E to create a wide-spread Cmaj11 voicing. Used by enigmatic English folkster Nick Drake for Pink Moon, the opening track of his 1972 album of the same name: capoed at 2fr, and slightly sharp of concert pitch (n.b. lower 2str by 5 […]

 

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• Carnatic (‘Drake’s Drone’) tuning •

B-E-B-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Distinctive drone used prominently on the acoustic by Nick Drake – and on the 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…”).   Highly versatile despite offering only two […]

 

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• Coyote tuning •

C-G-D-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • Gives root to the sensual strums of Coyote, the first track from Joni Mitchell’s 1976 Hejira album – once described by literary academic Dr. Ruth Charnock as “either the most flirtatious song about fucking or the most graphic song about flirting ever written”.   Her tuning is essentially ‘Hejira + Open C’ […]

 

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• Cabbage tuning •

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 just shuffle things up sometimes. Anyway, J.S. Bach – probably the G.O.A.T. of global harmonic development – did similarly, famously ‘signing’ his name in […]