• OVERVIEW •
Use the ‘slack thwack’ to access the bass guitar register in your lead playing (well, all but the very lowest 5 notes of it). Tuning the 6str right down to A – downwards a perfect 5th – will bring a strange buzz…but opens up some unique textures and grooves. Some guitars will handle it better than others – give it a try on yours!
The huge width exceeds that of many 7-string guitars, and the low bass-string separation is somewhat reminiscent of a harp guitar. And to extend the basic idea to other keys: tune the 6str down to your chosen root and see where it leads. Some real jam freedom to be found here.
Harmony: A9(sus4) | 1-1-4-b7-2-5
• TUNE UP •
• SOUNDS •
Antonio Forcione’s virtuoso nylon-string trickery on Acoustic Revenge is hands-down the best modern showcase of the slack thwack (“I use extra hard tension on the bottom E…it still has to hold”).
Also used on Bangers + Mash (Jonny Greenwood), Caligulove (Josh Homme), No One Loves Me and Neither Do I (Them Crooked Vultures), Citizen Erased (Muse), Moor (Every Time I Die), Sorceress (Opeth), Strat Riff (Bluffalo), and Stella by Starlight (Jeffery Matz).
(And for a few highlights from the actual harp guitar – which long predates the advent of recorded sound – try out George N. Dudley, Pasquale Taraffo, Alfred Karnes, Michael Hedges, Muriel Anderson, Andy McKee, Antoine Dufour, and Jamie Dupuis.)
- Acoustic Revenge – Antonio Forcione (2000):
• NUMBERS •
- 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!
• RELATED •
—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…
- Drop D (this with 6str +5): the classic low drop
- Drop C (this with 6str +3): another big low drop
- Equilibrium: featuring an even slacker 6str
• MORE INFO •
—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…
- Slack thwack chat: discussion on Harmony Central, including electric stringing suggestions (“the beauty of standard drop A is having octave strings right next to each other”)
- Antonio Forcione: read this interview with Sound Rebels, and this one with MusicRadar (with an accompanying guitar lesson)- and watch this short interview clip of him chatting and playing (“it’s not about technique, it’s about…the capacity to connect when you are playing, being totally absorbed…”)
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• RĀGA JUNGLISM •
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…
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