• Gambale tuning •



A restrung, Nashville-style arrangement of the ‘standard’ 5>5>5>4>5 pattern – the whole guitar is raised up by a fourth, and the top two strings are then lowered by an octave. In relative terms: akin to capoing at 12fr, but only across 6-5-4-3str.


Developed by fusion virtuoso Frank Gambale for to capture Chick Corea-style piano chords, seemingly via “messing with a Nashville tuning patch on a Roland VG-88”. He calls it a “revelation”, opening up close, pianistic voicings and fresh 4, 5, and 6-note shapes.


(n.b. it also resembles an octave-shuffled variant of the standard ADGCEA Mexican guitarrón tuning – a huge, fretless mariachi lute said to have inspired the modern acoustic bass guitar via the attention of Mr. Ernie Ball, who “bought one down in Tijuana, and tinkered with it”.)

Pattern: 5>5>5>(4)>5
Harmony: Amin7(11) | 1-4-b7-b3-5-1




In Gambale’s words. “I love to hear piano chords…after a lot of work and research, I found this new tuning. I think it’s an important discovery: chords that were impossible with regular tuning are now possible…”.


Used for the first eight tracks of his 2003 Raison D’Etre album (Foreign Country, Cachination Bittersweet, Table for One, Nouveau Vignettes 1-3, Ka’anapali) – and more work since too.


  • Table for One / tuning demo – Frank Gambale (2014):


6str 5str 4str 3str 2str 1str
Note A D G C E A
Alteration 5 5 5 5 -7 -7
Tension (%) (-) (-) (-) (-) -55 -55
Freq. (Hz) 110 147 196 262 165 220
Pattern (>) 5 5 5 4 5
Semitones 0 5 10 15 7 12
Intervals 1 4 b7 b3 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…

  • Nashville (this +7): the more prolific transposition
  • Mi-composé: only octave-jumping a single string
  • Terz: raised arrangement based on a tiny guitar


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

  • Frank Gambale’s tuning: more on the tuning on the GearPage forum – and also see interviews from Rick Beato, Troy Grady on picking, and Abstract Logix (“…his much-talked about new tuning invention will enable guitar players to play piano type chords…and play four chromatic notes simultaneously”)
  • MIDI guitar tunings: see this patch demo from Fishman Transducers (“You can create multiple patches in alternate tunings, and call them up instantly…you can play a song live with sections in 5 different tunings on a single guitar and switch seamlessly between them”)


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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

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