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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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Equilibrium

G-A-D-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Used 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 5str – removing ~66% of its tension, and thus risking high levels of low-volume buzz (he strings heavy…).   Brings a harmonically […]

 

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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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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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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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Karnivool

B-F#-B-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A fascinating blend of Standard and ‘Drop D (-3)‘, closely associated with Australian prog-rockers Karnivool. According to its creator, longtime lead guitarist Drew Goddard, “I was just messing around with low drop tunings while not paying any attention to the high string. I liked the sequence of natural harmonics you could make…”. […]

 

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Wind of Change

D-D-D-A-D-F# • OVERVIEW • A low-droning variety of Open D, featuring a powerful ‘triple D’ across the 6-5-4str: meaning that you have to move vertically (i.e. up and down the neck) to generate melodic motion. Famously used by Peter Frampton on Wind of Change (a semitone down) – although he got the idea via browsing George […]

 

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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 […]