Everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about guitar tuning: fresh perspectives from Ming Dynasty mythology to modern psychoacoustics, via jazz, Joni, Madagascar, and more! Ad-free, open access (2021+)
Despite being a universal guitaristic experience, tuning rarely gets the attention it deserves. Few instruments give more freedom to choose a ‘starting canvas’: unlike a piano, horn, or drum, the guitar can move fluidly between different tunings, opening up fresh geometries and spaces of the imagination at every turn. Many facets of learning are unique to these zones…
The ‘World of Tuning’ explores how we can get the most out of our peg-twisting rituals. Stemming from my Guitar World lesson series, the project explores new tuning horizons from multiple musical angles: practical, harmonic, historic, social, scientific, spiritual, and so forth. We take a global view, incorporating ideas from a worldwide variety of stringed traditions – India, Mali, Hawaii, Madagascar, Indonesia, and beyond…
I hope these resources will bring creative rejuvenation, and catalyse some fresh questioning around what we – and the guitar – are really capable of. How can we best use our tuning time? Why not choose your starting notes as you would your chords? Which global traditions see tuning in completely different terms? And what new colour combinations are to be found in the guitar’s oft-forgotten microtonal capabilities?
SEARCH TUNINGS: type in names, notes, artists, songs, sequences, descriptions, etc – or see below to browse the Menu:
In-depth database: ‘Palate expander’ of 6-string tunings from around the world – with notes, songs, breakdowns, origin tales, etc
Prominent peg-twisters: Haphazard selection of global guitarists – Joni, Drake, Hedges, McKee, MBV, Gomm, D’Gary, etc
Longform drones: Heighten your overtonal awareness and inject psychedelic jam texture – HQ tanpura samples in all keys
Lesson article: How does Joni’s ‘colour palette’ approach to tuning and songwriting draw from her lifelong passion for painting?
DIY 6 to 12-string: Tune your acoustic to DADGAD, capo at 11fr, and pluck on both sides of the bar for some harp-like magic
Worldwide configurations: Look to global tunings for new inspiration – Indian sitars, Malian koras, Balinese gamelan, etc
Self-reliance: How to mix chords, melodies, harmonics, & fretmatches – and warm up your ears, hands, & musical mind
Incidental layouts: What do spelling-derived tunings reveal? Beautiful BAGDAD, crunchy CABbAGE, dissonant DECADE…
Off-grid harmony: How can we harness the guitar’s expansive microtonal capabilities? Between the frets, around the world…
Multimedia essay: Examining tuning from multiple perspectives: Vedic myth to modern neuroscience via anti-colonial Andean folk
Tuning puzzle: Can we accurately reach his microtonal ‘stretch’ without a tuner? And what is ‘inharmonicity’ all about?
Natural harmonic patterns: uncovering the hidden sequences of the ‘fretless fretboard’ via my ‘overtonal scale explorer’
Comparison spreadsheet: analysing all 100+ Menu tunings – intervals, tensions, Hz, etc. Please peer-review my DIY science!
Submit feedback: Help ‘tune’ the World of Tuning – send in your ideas, suggestions, corrections, etc (all credited!)
Coming Soon: More global tunings & concepts – Hindustani raga, Javanese gamelan, Banda polyphony, etc – plus general updates to all the resources above. Let me know what I’ve missed, what I should cover next, etc…
Reunited with my guru-ji: Pt. Shivnath Mishra
All resources will stay perpetually ad-free and open access: this was mostly a lockdown labour of love/obsession, and it’s not really ‘my’ knowledge anyway (…I’m just the messenger/database admin). To hire me for writing/playing then head here – and if you like my mode of musical communication then why not try some Zoom-optimised online lessons? (Passion projects don’t, as yet, pay all the bills!)
Tuning news: if mosquitoes can manage (while flying, too)…
Browse 100+ tunings: type in names, notes, artists, sequences, words, etc. Also see tags below & the Full Menu:
Everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about guitar tuning: fresh perspectives from Ming Dynasty mythology to modern psychoacoustics via jazz, Joni, Madagascar, & more. Ad-free, open-access multimedia resources, continually updated (‘tuned’) over time. Feedback encouraged!
Project Home | Altered Tunings Menu | Divine Indian drones | EADGBE by ear | Peg-twisting heroes | Joni’s ‘stringed canvas’ | James Taylor’s puzzle | Alpha-melodic inventions | Microtonal guitar | Megatable analysis | Social, scientific, & spiritual | Feedback & future ideas
• RĀGA JUNGLISM •
rāga: ‘that which colours the mind’
George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and other global improvised traditions. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Site above, follow below, & hit me up for…
• ONLINE LESSONS •
—guitar & global music—
everything here will remain ad-free and open access