line

• Karnivool tuning •

B-F#-B-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • A fascinating blend of Standard + ‘Drop D -3‘ (3-1str & 6-4str respectively), closely associated with Australian prog-rockers Karnivool. According to its creator, lead guitarist Drew Goddard, “It just made sense to have the low tuning, while keeping the first strings high. The best of both worlds I guess…I liked the sequence […]

 

line

• Wind of Change tuning •

D-D-D-A-D-F# • OVERVIEW • A low-droning variety of Open D, featuring a powerful ‘triple D’ across 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 Harrison’s […]

 

line

• Cello (‘Haircut’) tuning •

C-G-D-A-B-E • OVERVIEW • While the highest two strings of this tuning are left as Standard, the rest are ‘widened’ in range to form a stack of perfect 5ths across 6-5-4-3str – thus matching the tuning of a cello. The treble side also gives open-string access to the next 5th in the sequence: between 3-1str […]

 

line

• New Standard (‘Crafty’) tuning •

C-G-D-A-E-G • OVERVIEW • Robert Fripp, of King Crimson and Brian Eno fame, devised his fifths-based ‘New Standard Tuning’ (NST) in the 1980s – chiefly seeking to open up a broader range of melodic movements. He stacked up four perfect 5ths, completing the tuning with a min. 3rd at the top to balance out the extreme […]

 

line

• Atta’s C tuning •

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 (1929–1983), who used it to inject fresh, jazzy voicings into the kī hō’alu music of his era. Beautifully concise: only three notes are used, but all adjacent […]

 

line

• C6 (‘Mauna Loa’) tuning •

C-G-C-G-A-E • OVERVIEW • A C6 known in Hawaiian kī hō’alu (‘slack-key’) as C ‘Mauna Loa’ – named after the world’s largest active volcano, which has erupted continuously since rising from the Pacific seabed over 400,000 years ago. The tuning’s regular stack of three perfect 5ths (6>5str, 4>3str, 2>1str) bring a similarly balanced solidity. Popularised by […]

 

line

• Keola’s C (‘Wahine’) tuning •

C-G-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • An quick-to-reach Open C variant mixing two 5ths and 4ths with a major 3rd. Popular in Hawaii, where it is known as ‘Keola’s C’ after modern slack-key legend Keola Beamer (or C ‘Wahine’. The Honolulu maestro – who hails it as “one of the easiest and most user-friendly” tunings – uses it […]

 

line

• All Minor Sixths tuning •

F-Db-A-F-Db-A • OVERVIEW • A ‘regular’ stack of minor 6ths – i.e. 8 semitones separate each string. This produces an expansive augmented sequence, starting from any of its three notes: whichever string you begin on, playing the two below will give 1-b6-3 (=an 1-3-#5 augmented triad: but one which cycles through the same notes in […]

 

line

• All Fifths tuning •

A-E-B-F#-C#-G# • OVERVIEW • In many ways, tuning to a cycle of perfect 5ths is very logical. After all, much of the world’s music is constructed via stacks of 5ths – an interval which enjoys natural prominence as the first non-root overtone in the harmonic series (overtone #3 = 1902 cents above the fundamental, a.k.a. […]

 

line

• All Tritones (‘Symmetric’) tuning •

C-Gb-C-Gb-C-Gb • OVERVIEW • A ‘regular’ stack of tritones, forming what could be loosely described as a ‘diminished power chord’ (1-b5-1 instead of 1-5-1). The 6-fret jumps neatly bisect our 12-semitone octave, making the tuning symmetrical from any string – i.e. wherever you are, the same note names will be found at the same positions […]