Category: Global tunings


Layouts from around the world: India, Iran, Mali, Congo, Ecuador, Hawaii, Madagascar, Papua, & elsewhere [17 tunings]

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Ali Farka Touré

• G-A-D-G-B-E •

A bass-raiser made famous by Mali’s master of the Islamic folk-blues…


Atta’s C

• C-G-E-G-C-E •

Some call Leland ‘Atta’ Isaac’s layout the ‘holy grail’ of Hawaiian harmony…


Bağlama / Saz

• G-G-D-D-A-A •

Double-course Anatolian lutes with frets made of fishing line…


C6 (‘Mauna Loa’)

• C-G-C-G-A-E •

Balanced slack-key stabilities, named for Hawaii’s eternal volcano…


Carnatic (‘Drake’s Drone’)

• B-E-B-E-B-E •

Nothing but B & E tones, explored by Prasanna in South India…



• G-G-C-E-A-E •

Learn about the liberatory tuning politics of this cute Andean lute…


Haja’s Bb

• Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C •

Deep-wound electric resonances from a modern Malagasy innovator…


Jack’s Chikari (‘Sitaristic’)

• Ḋ-Ḋ-D-G-B-E •

A sitar-like re-stringing by fellow Indo-Strat searcher Jack Jennings…


Kabosy (‘Leonard’s C’)

• C-G-D-G-B-D •

Transglobal links from Madagascar’s DIY box-lute tradition…


Keola’s C (‘Wahine’)

• C-G-D-G-B-E •

Keola Beamer’s melodious mix of 5ths, 4ths, and 3rds…


Mi-composé (‘Elenga’)

• E-A-Ḋ-G-B-E •

The wild life of ‘Jhimmy the Hawaiian’ in 1950s Congo…



• C-G-D-G-C-D •

Multi-continental convergences from Steve Baughman…


Oud (Arabic)

• E-A-Db-Gb-B-E •

Syrian variants of a guitar ancestor, similarly stacking 4ths…


Oud (Turkish)

• E-A-B-E-A-D •

An alternate layout from the world of the fretless Islamic lute…


Papuan Four-Key

• F-Bb-C-F-A-C •

Fresh narrowness from an astonishingly diverse island…



• Bb-F-C-G-C-E •

Modern fusions of jazz and the Malagasy valiha tube zither…


Zen Drone (‘Dulcimeric’)

• D-A-D-A-A-D •

Pedagogic-friendly geometries from P.T. Sudo, a genuine guitar monk…


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!

“An intrepid guitar researcher…”

(Guitar World interview)

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