Megatable: Altered Tunings


Analytical comparison table of all 100+ Menu tunings: notes, intervals, Hz, string tensions, etc. Help peer-review my DIY science!

Megatable | Basic dimensions | Generative fields | Other calculations


Why a spreadsheet? Tunings – unlike chords, melodies, and rhythms – are hard to compare on the fly. While most melodies can just be played alongside each other, the tuning equivalent usually involves far too much peg-twirling to be very useful. Thus, the field offers up fertile ground for more abstract, numerical methods of analysis: many surprising transglobal similarities will only reveal themselves this way…



(all fields explained inline & below)

Field by field: Help improve my analysis and spot more hidden inter-tuning similarities – shapes, ranges, harmonies, interval runs, mirror-flips, anything! Commentable table here & general feedback here. Everything credited.



Entered manually: I fill these in, then everything else is auto-generated

[# = special field: e.g. counts, ranges, shape matches]

  • Name: I’ve gone for the most common and/or accurate (n.b. alternative names are also included on individual tuning pages)
  • Notes: Un-octaved note names, with sharps converted to flats for consistency’s sake [#: how many different notes?]
  • Alterations: Semitones ± EADGBE for each string (i.e. what to change each by from Standard) [#: open range in semitones]
  • Harmony: My quasi-subjective selections for the tuning’s chord & intervallic ‘best matches’ [#: how many of this type?]


Calculated automatically: practical info designed for use on tuning pages

Pattern: Fretting sequence from 6>1str (relative, i.e. irrespective of transposition). Calculated via the intervallic fields below:

  1. Take EADGBE’s Defaults for all open strings (0|5|10|15|19|24)
  2. Modify with the tuning’s Alteration values (e.g. -2|0|0|0|-2|-2)
  3. Calculate differences for all 5 adjacent string pairs (e.g. 7-5-5-2-5)
  4. Add 12 to all negative values (to cover banjo-style re-entrants)
  5. Append, adding full stops to define start/end (for ctrl-F’ing)

[special: C/# = count & unique check: how many tunings take this pattern?]

Frequency: All strings in Hz (vibrations per second). Calculation:

  1. Take EADGBE’s open-string defaults to 3 s.f. (82.407 | 110.000 | 146.832 | 195.998 | 246.942 | 329.628)
  2. Input Alterations (A) into the equation: (2^(A/12)) * [Default Hz]
  3. Print results, eliminating decimal places (…enough detail already)

String tension (lb): Estimates for steel-string acoustic. Calculation:

  1. Select string set: I’ve modelled on medium-heavies – most altered tunings are slacker, so many will string a little thicker (inch thicknesses for D’Addario’s classic EJ17 Phosphor Bronzes are: .013 | .017 | .026 | .035 | .045 | .056)
  2. Take the Unit Weights (UW), listed in D’Addario’s manufacturing data (as lb per linear inch: 0.00003744 | 0.00006402 | 0.00013640 | 0.00025365 | 0.00041751 | 0.00063477)
  3. Take the target Frequencies (F) of each string (calculated above)
  4. Take the guitar’s Scale Length (L) in inches (most common: 25.5)
  5. Input the values into the equation: UW*((2*SL*F)^2) / 386.4

[special: TOT = sum of all strings, % = change from EADGBE sum of ~189 lb]

Tension change (%): Relative to EADGBE (assuming no restring: hence a few absurd values). Calculation:

  • Take the string tensions in lb (calculated above for each tuning)
  • Take the equivalent EADGBE tension values (above: 29.02 | 34.01 | 36.81 | 35.27 | 26.28 | 27.38)
  • For each string, find the percentage difference between them

[n.b. given the limited alteration possibilities, you could just memorise these:]

Alteration 7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Tens. (%) -55 -50 -44 -37 -29 -21 -11 (0) 12 26 41


Assorted info: e.g. calculation steps, search indices, group & tag sets, etc.

Intervallic: mapping the semitonal structure of the open strings

  • Semitones from E6str: How far above lowest note of Standard?
  • Semitones from [n]6str: How far above this tuning’s open 6th?
  • Pattern – absolute: Number of semitones to next string down
  • Pattern – positive: All negative values +12 (to cover re-entrants)

Search indices: reformatted to optimise sorting & searching

  • Notes: Appended like ‘.D-A-D-G-A-D.’ (full stops allow for defining start/end proximity in ctrl-F search strings)
  • Alterations: Appended like ‘.-2|0|0|0|-2|-2.’ (pipe delimiters added to differentiate from other numerical sequences)
  • Harmony: Split like ‘D’ / ‘sus4’ (to enable separate sorting – and again, root choice is a somewhat subjective area)

Groupings: some auto-flagged, others chosen manually

Search the Altered Tunings Menu (100+): type in notes, artists, adjectives, intervals, sequences, etc. Also see Tag List:



George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher (guitars, sitar, tabla, & santoor). Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the voices, cultures, and passions behind them. See Home & Writings, and hit me up for Online Lessons!

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