• Airtap tuning •



Used by Montreal acoustic genius Erik Mongrain to facilitate the virtuosic ‘lap-tapping’ techniques of Airtap!, an oldskool viral favourite (uploaded back in 2006: YouTube’s early days). Like playing piano, bass, & drums on the strings – all at the same time…


The intervallic structure matches the guitar’s ‘classic’ Gmaj shape (‘3-2-0-0-3-3’). Although 5 of the strings are altered, the changes are all small – I guess it requires a strong, even tension on either side for Erik’s barre-finger slappery to ring out crisp.

Pattern: 4>3>5>7>5
Harmony: Fmaj | 1-3-5-1-5-1




The video that launched Mongrain to his (probably inevitable) acoustic guitar stardom came to the web via an exuberant performance on French-Canadian TV (Airtap!). You can also listen to the piece in 3D-realistic ‘binaural’ sound here (headphones required for full effect).


  • Airtap! – Erik Mongrain (2006):


6str 5str 4str 3str 2str 1str
Note F A C F C F
Alteration +1 0 -2 -2 +1 +1
Tension (%) +12 0 -21 -21 +12 +12
Freq. (Hz) 87 110 131 175 262 349
Pattern (>) 4 3 5 7 5
Semitones 0 4 7 12 19 24
Intervals 1 3 5 1 5 1
  • See my Tunings Megatable for further such nerdery: more numbers, intervallic relations, comparative methods, etc. And to any genuine vibratory scientists reading: please critique my DIY analysis!


—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…


—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…

  • Erik Mongrain: his website, his tunings, and an interview (“nowadays I’m trying to go for higher tension tunings…sometimes I just fiddle with the tuners, and try to find a new arrangement…that feels right to the moment. There is more than one way to find new color!”)
  • Lap-tapping: pick up the basics of the style in Mike Dawes’ Guitar World lesson (“instead of visualizing ‘box chord shapes it seemed more like six pianos in a row, in that each string was like its own keyboard…”)


Browse 100+ tunings: type in names, notes, artists, sequences, words, etc. Also see the Tag List & Full Menu:


The ‘World of Tuning’

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…

Menu: 100+ Altered Tunings

13 peg-winding heroes 26 divine Indian drones Global instruments Joni Mitchell’s stringed canvas Alpha-melodic word games •  Tales & quotes Megatable: analytics Glossary: tuning terms Feedback & future  Double-siding: capo-harp hacks  James Taylor’s ‘stretched’ puzzle Tuning by ear  Overtonal scale explorer  Microtonal guitars  Social, spiritual, & scientific

[under construction: out 2022!]


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…


—guitar & global music—

Dedicated to Nigel Tufnel – a true tuning connoisseur

everything here will remain ad-free and open access