Analytical comparison table of all 100+ tunings on the Menu: notes, intervals, Hz, string tensions, etc. Help peer-review my DIY science!
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-twisting to be very useful. Thus, the field offers up particularly fertile ground for more abstract, numerical methods of analysis: so 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.
• BASIC INFO •
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?]
• GENERATED VALUES •
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:
- Take EADGBE’s Defaults for all open strings (0|5|10|15|19|24)
- Modify with the tuning’s Alteration values (e.g. -2|0|0|0|-2|-2)
- Calculate differences for all 5 adjacent string pairs (e.g. 7-5-5-2-5)
- Add 12 to all negative values (to cover banjo-style re-entrants)
- 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:
- Take EADGBE’s open-string defaults to 3 s.f. (82.407 | 110.000 | 146.832 | 195.998 | 246.942 | 329.628)
- Input Alterations (A) into the equation: (2^(A/12)) * [Default Hz]
- Print results, eliminating decimal places (…enough detail already)
String tension (lb): Estimates for steel-string acoustic. Calculation:
- 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)
- 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)
- Take the target Frequencies (F) of each string (calculated above)
- Take the guitar’s Scale Length (L) in inches (most common: 25.5)
- 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:]
• OTHER FIELDS •
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
- Groups: A few sensible ones (as per the full Menu) – Standard, Drop, Core Triads, Interval, Global, Artist/Song, Misc.
- Tags (manual): Dom. 7th, Drone, Drop, Global, Instrument, Interval, Maj. 7th, Min. 7th, Oddball, Slide, Sus
- Tags (auto-generated): All, 2-note, 3-note, 4-note, 5-note, 6-note, Maj. triad, Min. triad, Narrow, No-restring, Re-entrants, Standards, Superlow, Wide
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 manuscripts to modern psychoacoustics via jazz, Joni Mitchell, Madagascar, & more. Ad-free, open-access multimedia resources, continually updated (‘tuned’) over time. Feedback encouraged!
• RĀGA JUNGLISM •
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…
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