G Standard / Terz

G-C-F-Bb-D-G

• OVERVIEW •

The small, cute ‘Terz guitar’ (or ‘chitarrino’), 10-20% shorter than a Strat and tuned a minor 3rd higher, enjoyed wild popularity in early 19th-century Europe. According to scholar and modern Terzmaster Dr. James Buckland, audiences hailed the tiny axe for its brilliant tone, fast response, and ability to project through orchestral accompaniment”.

 

The classical Terz tradition has largely been lost to the mists of the pre-recording era, but Buckland and others continue to reanimate its vast historical repertoire. Similar designs are also being adopted as easy-to-carry touring companions – Johnny Cash and Sting have both dabbled, and Billy Corgan has even released his own model.

Pattern: 5>5>5>4>5
Harmony: Gm7(11) | 1-4-b7-b3-5-1

• TUNE UP •

[YT]

• SOUNDS •

The Terz revival has largely been spearheaded through Buckland’s recent efforts – watch his self-built Terz replica below (Paganini Sonata #5). Also check out David Jacques (Ständchen), Radivoj Petrovic (Terz Demo), and the Martin Custom model (Size 5).

 

And for a couple of prominent ‘capo 3 standard’ songs – Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, James Taylor’s Fire and Rain, and Ian Anderson’s acoustic part on Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.

 


  • Improv on Paganini’s Gmaj Sonata – James Buckland (2015):

• NUMBERS •

6str 5str 4str 3str 2str 1str
Note G C F Bb D G
Alteration +3 +3 +3 +3 +3 +3
Tension (%) +41 +41 +41 +41 +41 +41
Freq. (Hz) 98 131 175 233 294 392
Pattern (>) 5 5 5 4 5
Semitones 0 5 10 15 19 24
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!

• RELATED •

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

• MORE INFO •

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

  • Terz traditions: see what Dr. James Buckland has to say on the Guild of American Luthiers site – and also Early Romantic Guitar‘s excellent modern recordings list and illustrated overview (“period Terz guitars are extremely difficult to locate; this can be a long, frustrating, fruitless experience. Some of them were mis-classified as ‘child guitars’…”)
  • Billy Corgan’s model: built and discussed by Reverend Guitars (“after years of capoing at the third fret, Billy Corgan suggested that we make an electric Terz…a punchy, shimmering guitar that is rich in overtones, perfect for adding color accents or driving rhythm parts that spice up a tune”)

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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…

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