Guitar tunings

Guitar standard tuning, shown one octave higher than actual pitch. (E2.A2.D3.G3.B3.e4)

Guitar tunings almost always refers to the pitch of the open ("unfretted") string, though some tunings may only realistically be attained by the use of a capo on an unmodified instrument.

Like many other stringed instruments, guitar tunings can be easily modified. When speaking of a tuning such as standard tuning, EADGBE refers to the pitches of the strings from lowest pitch (low E) to highest (high E).

Contents

Standard tuning

Helmholtz notation
Note: This article uses Helmholtz pitch notation to define guitar tunings.
v ·
Notes in standard tuning.
Making a standard tuning using overtones

Standard tuning is by far the most popular tuning on a 6-string guitar. It consists of the following notes.

String Note Frequency Scientific pitch notation
1 (Highest) e' 329.63 Hz E4
2 b 246.94 Hz B3
3 g 196.00 Hz G3
4 d 146.83 Hz D3
5 A 110.00 Hz A2
6 (Lowest) E  82.41 Hz E2

The pitches referred to above are referenced standard pitch (a' = 440.0 Hz.). In some regions of Europe, especially Germany, Serbia and Poland, and in Russia and Ukraine, where classical musicians use the German system, the B natural is indicated with the letter H: in music notation, H is B (B natural) and B is B (B flat).

  • The guitar, as conventionally fretted, is an equal tempered instrument.
  • The guitar is a transposing instrument. In the case of the guitar, its actual pitches sound one octave lower than notated.

This pattern can also be denoted as E-A-d-g-b-e'. (See note for an explanation of the various symbols used in the above table and elsewhere in this article.)

Standard tuning has evolved to provide a good compromise between simple fingering for many chords and the ability to play common scales with minimal left hand movement. The separation of the first (e') and second (b) string, as well as the separation between the third (g), fourth (d), fifth (A), and sixth (E) strings by a five-semitone interval (a perfect fourth) allows notes of the chromatic scale to be played with each of the four fingers of the left hand controlling one of the first four frets (index finger on fret 1, little finger on fret 4, etc.). It also yields a symmetry and intelligibility to fingering patterns.

The separation of the second (b), and third (g) string is by a four-semitone interval (a major third). Though this breaks the fingering pattern of the chromatic scale and thus the symmetry, it eases the playing of some often-used chords and scales, and it provides more diversity in fingering possibilities.

I
open 1st fret (index) 2nd fret (middle) 3rd fret (ring) 4th fret (little)
1st string e' f' f' g' a'
2nd string b c' c' d' e'
3rd string g a a b ...
4th string d e e f f
5th string A B B c c
6th string E F F G A
Chromatic note progression

It is important to note that the relative harmonic ratio (e.g. semitones-steps) between neighboring strings, does not change when moving up the frets. For example when considering the 1st and 2nd strings: e' to b (open strings) is like f' to c' (1st fret) is like f' to c' (2nd fret) etc.

The chromatic (equal tempered) musical scale and the natural musical scale have note pitches that are in some instances similar. The natural musical scale uses natural harmonic pitches. For example, the A note has harmonics pitches for the D and E notes. The guitar fretboard can approximately accommodate to tuning to the chromatic or natural musical scale by adjusting the intonation by a little. Intonation is tuning of the fret notes to other fret notes of one string so that most of the fretboard note pitches are tuned to the pitches of the musical scale. Intonation tuning is done by adjusting the string lengths at the bridge. The open string note of a particular string is kept constant so that when adjusting the string length, most of the fretboard pitches are closely matched to the pitches of the musical scale for this string. Tune the open string by adjusting the string tension at the tuning gear using a decent electronic tuner for tuning. Then check the intonation tuning of the fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, sixteenth and nineteenth fret note pitches of this string by ear using an electronic chromatic pitch pipe that comes with the above tuner. If these pitches are too high, move the bridge saddle back (away from fretboard) from about 0.5 to about 9 millimetres for the sixth string for a 0.65 metre scale length. If these fret note pitches are too low, then move the bridge saddle forward a little instead. Next tune intonation of other strings each in same way.

Alternative tunings

Alternative tuning refers to any open string note arrangement other than that of standard tuning detailed above. Despite the usefulness and current almost universal acceptance of modern standard tuning, over the centuries of the development of the guitar many guitarists have employed such alternative tuning arrangements in order to exploit the unique chord voicing and sonorities that result from them. Some musicians use alternate tunings exclusively, especially in folk music where the guitar is often fulfilling the role of indigenous instruments with their own drones and sound. Most alternative tunings necessarily change the chord shapes associated with standard tuning, which results in certain chords becoming much easier to play while others may become nearly impossible to play.

As a standard set of guitar strings is designed to be tuned to the standard notes, alternative tunings may require not just a different tuning, but re-stringing of the guitar with strings of a different gauge better suited to the open string note. In turn, further adjustments to the applicable parts of the guitar, such as the truss rod, the nut, and the bridge to cope with the different tensions placed on the guitar may be required. In some tunings, such as those requiring the substitution of a Bass guitar string on a regular 6 string guitar, fitting different components will be required to cope with the different gauges used. The Seattle based band The Presidents of the United States of America use instruments called the basitar and guitbass which are examples of heavily modified production model 6 string guitars utilizing extreme tunings.

Lower tunings

D tuning.

Derived from standard EADGBE, all the strings are tuned lower by the same interval, thus providing the same chord positions transposed to a lower key. Lower Tunings are popular among rock and heavy metal bands. The reason for tuning down below standard pitch is usually either to accommodate a singer's vocal range or to get a deeper/heavier sound.[1]

Tunings as low as B tuning may be practiced on an unmodified instrument provided that higher gauge strings are used, although an extended scale "baritone" guitar is better-suited to avoid warping, as its scale length and truss rod are designed for their tension. Many 8-string guitars feature a dual-action truss rod due to the sheer amount of tension from the strings. F and octave down tuning are impractical for a standard scale length guitar, since its scale length is too short for a clear sound and unmodified tuners are not built to admit bass guitar gauge strings.

Higher tunings

Terz tuning.

From standard EADGBE, all the strings are tuned up by the same interval. String tension will be higher. Typically requires thinner gauge strings, particularly the first string which could be as thin as six thousandths of an inch (about the thickness of a single human hair). A capo is typically preferred over these tunings, as they do not increase neck strain, etc. The advantage of these tunings is simply that they allow an extended upper note range versus a capo used with standard tuning which limits the number of notes that can be played.

  • F tuning - F-A-D-G-C-F / F-B-E-A-C-F
    Half a step up from standard tuning. (used for Love Buzz on Nirvana's Bleach album - apparently by mistake (according to Come As You Are - Michael Azerrad))
  • F/G tuning - F-B-E-A-C-F / G-B-E-A-D-G
    One full step up from standard. Primary tuning for the band The Chameleons. Johnny Marr also used this tuning extensively with The Smiths; bassist Andy Rourke remained in standard, however, even when Marr was playing in F#.
  • G tuning also known as Terz tuning (sometimes spelled "Tierce", "Third", or "Tertz", all of which are acceptable) - G-C-F-A-D-G / G-C-F-B-D-G
    One and one half steps up from standard.
  • G/A tuning - G-C-F-B-D-G / A-D-G-B-E-A
    Two full steps up from standard.
  • A tuning - A-D-G-C-E-A
    Two and one half steps up from standard. This is the standard tuning for the Lapstick travel guitar.
  • A/B - A-D-G-C-E-A / B-E-A-D-F-B
    Three full steps up from standard.

Dropped tunings

Drop D tuning.

These tunings have the 6th string tuned low relative to the other strings, often (but not always) by one full step (a "drop 1" tuning). Some of these may require a baritone guitar due to the string tension required for extremely low notes. Others can be achieved using a capo and/or a partial capo.

What matters for the purposes of fingering is the relative relationship among the strings. For example, a dropped B tuning has all strings tuned to different notes than a standard tuning, but the strings have the same relationship to each other as a drop D tuning (where only the 6th string differs from standard tuning), and as a result the fingerings are nearly the same as for standard tuning.

Many of the terms below are ambiguous in whether only the 6th string is tuned down (a "drop N" tuning in the standard key of E), or all strings are tuned down, with the 6th tuned down more than the others (usually a "drop 1" tuning in some other key). For example, a "drop C tuning" usually refers to a "drop 1" tuning in the key of D, i.e. the 6th string is tuned down two whole steps and all others down one whole step. This is equivalent to a standard drop D tuning with all strings turned down a whole step. However, another "drop C tuning" is a "drop 2" tuning in the key of E, i.e. the 6th string is tuned down two whole steps and the others left alone. The former uses standard drop D fingerings, like all "drop 1" tunings, while the latter requires its own fingerings because of the different relative relationship of the 6th string to the others.

Other variant drop tunings tune two different strings differently. Tuning both the 1st and 6th strings down the same amount is common enough to warrant its own name (see "double-dropped tunings" below). However, there are other possibilities. For example, the Foo Fighters song "Stacked Actors" uses a tuning AADGBE with the 6th string retuned to form an octave on A. This involves dropping the 6th string down a perfect fifth. This is sometimes called a "dropped A" tuning because the lowest string is tuned down to A; but it is different from either the "dropped A" variant of drop D (drop 1 in the key of B) or the less common "dropped A" used by Mastodon and Periphery (drop a 4th in the key of D).

Double-dropped tunings

Double drop D tuning.
Double drop D tuning (listen)

Similar to the dropped tunings, except that both the 1st and 6th strings are dropped one full step.

  • Double Drop D - D-A-D-G-B-D
    Standard tuning but with the 1st and 6th strings dropped one full step. Favored by Neil Young. Has also been used by Lamb of God on some of their earlier songs.
  • Double Drop C/Drop D - C-G-C-F-A-C / D-A-D-G-B-D/
    Same as [Double] Drop D, but every string is dropped one half step. Used by the acoustic rock band Days of the New.
  • Double Drop C - C-G-C-F-A-C
    One full step down from Drop D. Used by Sevendust on the song "Seasons".
  • Double Drop B - B-F-B-E-G-B / B-G-B-E-A-B/
    One and one half steps down from Drop D.
  • Double Drop A/Drop B - A-F-A-D-G-A / B-F-B-E-G-B
    Two full steps down from Drop D.
  • Double Drop A - A-E-A-D-F-A / A-E-A-D-G-A
    Two and one half steps down from Drop D.
  • Double Drop G/Drop A - G-D-G-C-F-G / A-E-A-D-F-A
    Three full steps down from Drop D.
  • Double Drop G - G-D-G-C-E-G
    Three and one half steps down from Drop D.
  • Double Drop F/Drop G - F-C-F-B-D-F / G-D-G-B-E-G
    Four full steps down from Drop D, or two full steps up from Drop D1.
  • Double Drop F - F-C-F-A-D-F / F-C-F-B-D-F
    Four and one half steps down from Drop D, or one and a half steps up from Drop D1.
  • Double Drop E - E-B-E-A-C-E / E-B-E-A-D-E
    Five full steps down from Drop D, or one full step up from Drop D1.
  • Double Drop D/Double Drop E - D-A-D-G-C-D / E-B-E-A-C-E
    Five and one half steps down from Drop D, or one half step up from Drop D1.
  • Double Drop D1 Tuning - D-A-D-G-B-D
    Six full steps (one octave) down from Double Drop D.

Classical guitar tunings

The classical guitar developed over a period of 500 years and in addition to the predominant standard tuning, a number of guitar tunings are commonly used in this genre, some based upon historical practice.

  • Renaissance lute tuning: E-A-d-f-b-e'

This tuning may also be used with a capo at the third fret to match the common lute pitch: G-c-f-a-d'-g'. This tuning also matches standard vihuela tuning and is often employed in classical guitar transcriptions of music written for those instruments.

  • "Pseudo Russian" or "g" tuning: D-G-d-g-b-e'

Open tunings

An open tuning in guitar is one where the strings are tuned so that a chord is achieved without fretting, or pressing any of the strings. With such a tuning, other chords may be played by simply barring a fret or through the use of a slide. Open tunings are common in blues music and some rock and folk music. They are particularly used in steel guitar and bottleneck guitar playing.

When performing and recording, musicians will often employ simultaneous multiple tunings, i.e. separate instruments in different tunings sounding at once. For example, on several of his early recordings 1980s session guitarist David Persons used multiple tunings together, including standard six string and open tuning (e.g. standard tuning playing in E major and Open E tuning). Due to the resulting natural intervals (i.e. non-equal temperament) this practice produces complementary counterpoint with unusual harmonies and dissonance.[2]

Major open tunings

Open D tuning.
Open D tuning (listen)

Major open tunings (giving a major chord with the open strings) include (all from low to high):

  • Open A: E-A-C-E-A-E
    • Alternatively: E-A-C-E-A-C
    • "Slide" Open A: E-A-E-A-C-E (identical to Open G tuning but with every string raised one step or two frets) (used by Oxbow on the song "Woe" from the album King of the Jews and The White Stripes on Seven Nation Army).
  • Open B: B-F-B-F-B-D
    • Alternatively: F-B-D-F-B-D
  • Open C: C-G-C-G-C-E (Widely used by Devin Townsend)
    • Alternative: C-G-C-E-G-C (used by Oxbow on the 2007 song "It's the Giving, Not the Taking" and Needtobreathe on "Lay 'Em Down")
    • Open C tuning for 7 string: G-C-G-C-G-C-E (Also used by Devin Townsend while in Strapping young lad; also used by Soundgarden)
  • Open D: D-A-D-F-A-D
    • Alternatively: D-A-D'-A'-D-D(used by stone roses in love spreads).
  • Open E: E-B-E-G-B-E (use light gauge strings because three strings must be raised)(used by Keith Richards on Salt of the Earth, Prodigal Son, and by Bob Dylan on his 1975 album Blood on the Tracks)
  • Open F: F-A-C-F-C-F
    • Alternatively: C-F-C-F-A-F (used by: Elizabeth Cotten on her song "When I Get Home"; Oxbow on the songs "...The Stick" and "Skin")
  • F-Sharp Tuning: F-A-C-F-C-F
  • Open G tuning (listen)
    Open G: D-G-D-G-B-D (also known as Spanish Tuning or Chicago Tuning)

Open G was used in rock by Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones as well as in Mississippi blues by Son House, Charley Patton, and Robert Johnson, and in "Fearless" by Pink Floyd.[3]

    • Alternatively: G-B-D-G-B-D (slack-key guitar taro patch)
    • dobro Open G: G-B-D-G-B-D (occasionally adopted for ordinary guitar, but requires lighter fifth and sixth strings).
    • Russian Open G: D-G-B-D-G-B-D (the standard tuning for the Russian seven string guitar).

Minor Open Tunings/Cross-note tunings

The below open tunings use a minor third, and give a minor chord with open strings. To avoid the relatively cumbersome designation "open D minor", "open C minor", such tunings are sometimes called "cross-note tunings". The term also expresses the fact that, compared to Major chord open tunings, by fretting the lowered string at the first fret, it is possible to produce a major chord very easily.

Cross-note or open E-minor was used by Bukka White and Skip James.[4]

Cross-note tunings include (low to high):

  • Cross-note A: E-A-E-A-C-E
    • Alternative: E-A-C-E-A-E (rare)
  • Cross-note C: C-G-C-G-C-E
    • Alternative: C-G-C-E-G-C (used by Oxbow on the 1996 songs "Stallkicker," "Sorry," and the 2007 songs "A Winner Every Time" and "Time Gentlemen, Time," etc.)
  • Cross-note D: D-A-D-F-A-D (used by Oxbow on the 1991 songs, "Angel," "Cat and Mouse," etc.)
  • Cross-note E: E-B-E-G-B-E
  • Cross-note F: F-A-C-F-C-F (extremely rare)
  • Cross-note G: D-G-D-G-B-D
Sitar A tuning (listen)
  • Alternative Cross A: E-A-E-A-E-A. «Sitar A» - an alternative low guitar system. Recalls the sound of Indian sitar.

Modal tunings

D modal tuning.

In modal tunings, the strings are tuned to form a chord which is not definitively minor or major. These tunings may facilitate very easy chords and unique sounds when the open strings are used as drones. Often these tunings form a suspended chord on the open strings. A well known user of modal tunings is Sonic Youth.

  • Asus2: E-A-B-E-A-E
  • Asus4: E-A-D-E-A-E
  • Bsus4: B-F#-B-E-F#-B (DADGAD but 3 steps (1 1/2 note) lower, used by Sevendust on the song "Live Again" and on much of their Cold Day Memory album.)
  • C6: C-A-C-G-C-E (used by Jimmy Page in Bron-Yr-Aur)
  • Open Page: D-G-C-G-C-D (used by Jimmy Page in The Rain Song)
  • Csus2: C-G-C-G-C-D (first five strings equivalent to Double-C tuning for the banjo)
    • Csus4+9: C-G-C-F-C-D
  • Csus4: C-G-C-G-C-F
  • C15: C-G-D-G-C-D
  • Dsus2: D-A-D-E-A-D
  • Dsus4: D-A-D-G-A-D
  • Esus2: E-B-E-F-B-E (used by My Bloody Valentine in “Only Shallow” and by John Mayer in "Something's Missing" and "In Your Atmosphere").
  • Esus4: E-B-E-A-B-E
  • G6: D-G-D-G-B-E
  • Gsus2: D-G-D-G-A-D
  • Gsus4: D-G-D-G-C-D (first five strings equivalent to Sawmill tuning for the banjo)
    • Gsus4/4 / Orkney Tuning: C-G-D-G-C-D
  • E modal: E-B-E-E-B-E (used in CSN's "Suite Judy Blue Eyes")
  • G modal: G-G-D-G-B-D
  • B modal: B-F-C-F-B-D

"Extended chord" tunings

These tunings allow a guitarist to play an open seventh, ninth, eleventh or thirteenth chord, or when the extended tone occurs in the lowest string to exploit the sound of that note as an 'open' string. One or more of the strings is retuned to the appropriate note of the required scale. Such tunings may be either minor or major.

Examples are (low to high):

  • Open Dmaj7: D-A-D-F-A-C
  • Open Dmin7: D-A-D-F-A-C
    • When used for rhythm guitar purposes, this tuning is highly accessible to musicians who play the guitar as a second instrument but who have preexisting knowledge of music theory: One can play any major, minor, major seventh, or minor seventh chord by barring at the fret of the tonic with the first finger, changing minor to major by using the second (middle) finger to raise the F-string note one half-step from barred, and/or changing seventh to triad-only by using the third (ring) finger to raise the C-string note one whole step from barred. As long as one is familiar with the chord progression of the song one is playing, this tuning enables even an inexperienced player to play a wide variety of chords (albeit at the cost of frequent jumps up and down the fretboard).
  • Open Dmin(add9): D-A-D-F-A-E
    • Alternative: E-A-D-F-A-D (used by Oxbow on the song "Babydoll")
  • Open Emin7: E-B-D-G-B-E (same as standard except raised 5th string which needs lighter gauge)
  • Open G6: D-G-D-G-B-E
  • Dobro open G6: G-B-D-G-B-E (two lowest strings tuned up and require lighter gauges)
  • Open G7:
    • D-G-D-G-B-F
    • D-G-D-F-B-D (both very rare presumably because of tritone between adjacent strings)
    • F-G-D-G-B-D
  • Open Gmaj7: D-G-D-F-B-D (see slack key)
  • "Modal" G7: F-G-D-G-C-D
  • "Open G13": F-G-D-G-B-E
  • Open Cmin7: C-G-C-G-B-E
  • Open Cmaj7: C-G-C-G-B-E
  • Open C6/9: C-G-C-E-A-C
  • Open Cmaj9: C-G-D-G-B-E
  • Csus2add11: C-G-D-F-c-f
  • Golden Blue: C-C-c-c-B-F
  • Open Gsus4: D-G-C-G-c-d (used by Jimmy Page on "The Rain Song"[citation needed])

Steel Guitar Tuning

On table steel guitar and pedal steel guitar, the most common tunings are the extended-chord C6 tuning and E9 tuning, sometimes known as the Texas and Nashville tunings respectively. On a multiple-neck instrument, the near neck will normally be some form of C6, and the next closest neck E9.

Necks with 12 or more strings can be used with universal tunings which combine the features of C6 and E9. On a 12 string pedal steel guitar, all 12 strings are tuned and played individually, not as 6 double courses as on the 12 string guitar.

On lap steel guitar there is often only one six-string neck. C6 tuning is popular for these instruments, as are open G, E6, and E7 tuning.

Miscellaneous tunings

Dad-Gad

DADGAD tuning (listen)
D-A-D-G-A-D

Often vocalized as "Dad-Gad", DADGAD is common in Celtic music, and is also heard in rock music for example Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir". Davy Graham initially employed this tuning so he could play along with the native musicians on a trip to Morocco, it was then taken up by Bert Jansch, who influenced Jimmy Page to use the tuning in "Kashmir" which in turn helped further popularize it.[3] Pierre Bensusan is another noted exponent of this tuning. Three downtuned variations are used by the band Sevendust. A drop C variation, or C-G-C-F-G-C. (only used on the song "Unraveling"), a drop B variation, or B-F#-B-E-F#-B, and a drop A# variation, or A#-F-A#-D#-F-A#.

Martin Carthy uses the related tunings D-A-D-E-A-E and C-G-C-D-G-A.

A slight (accidental) variation, DADAAD, was used by Dave Wakeling on the English Beat's 1983 single Save It For Later.

Dad-Dad

DADDAD tuning (listen)
D-A-D-D-A-D

Nicknamed - "Papa-Papa". DADDAD is common in folk music (Irish, Scottish), and for the execution of a rhythm guitar in "heavy" (alternative music) on 6 th on the third string at the same time. Getting to the Tuning. From DADGAD, Open D or Open D Minor, all you need to do is drop the original G string to D. It takes a few twists, but all you have to do is make it sound like the D string next to it. DADDAD tuning is sometimes used on Dobro guitars for rock blues. A notable example is Stanley Jordan.

All fourths

E-A-d-g-c'-f'

This tuning is like that of the lowest four strings in standard tuning. It removes from standard tuning the irregularity of the interval of a third between the second and third strings. This tuning is sometimes adopted by guitarists who are proficient at two-handed tapping, as it allows for symmetrical scales all the way up and down the fretboard.

All fifths

C-G-d-a-e'-b'

This is a tuning in intervals of fifths like that of a mandolin or a violin. Has a remarkably wide range, though it is impossible to achieve with standard equipment (the high b" makes the first string very taut such that it will break easily), and may not play well on an acoustic guitar (the low C is arguably too low to resonate properly in a standard guitar's body). Some guitarists, notably Robert Fripp of the band King Crimson, use all fifths tuning with a g' instead of a b' on the first string, making that interval a minor third rather than a perfect fifth. This tuning is often called "New Standard Tuning" by its users. The California Guitar Trio commissioned a luthier to construct three guitars capable of accommodating the string tension required to tune to a b' on the first string, thus becoming the first guitarists to compose music in the true perfect fifth tuning.

Another variation of the all fifths tuning utilizes an additional bass string as an alternative to a high b: F-C-G-d-a-e This tunes the top 4 strings to the standard mandolin/violin tuning and adds bass missing from those instruments.

Cello/Standard guitar

C-G-d-a-b-e'

Essentially a 'cello tuning with the deeper four strings in fifths and the two highest strings in standard guitar tuning. Used by Oxbow on their 1989 song "The Valley" and 2007 song "Frank's Frolic." Also used by Foo Fighters on the song "Weenie Beenie"

A variation of this tuning with all three high strings in standard guitar tuning is:

C-G-d-g-b-e'

Used by Oxbow on the 1993 (recorded) song "Sunday" and 1996 song "The Last Good Time."

"Karnivool" tuning

B-F-b-g-b-e'
Hybrid tuning between B-tuning and E-standard. Used by the band Karnivool for their Themata album, and some of their Sound Awake Tracks.

Mi-composé

E-A-d'-g-b-e'

Mi-composé is a tuning commonly used for rhythm guitar in African popular music forms such as soukous and makossa.[5] It is similar to the standard guitar tuning, except that the d string is raised an entire octave. This is accomplished by replacing the d string with an e' string and tuning it to d'.

Ostrich tuning

Ostrich tuning is a tuning where all strings are tuned to the same note,[6] creating an intense, chorused drone.

  • D-D-D-D-d-d
  • E high tuning -E-E-E-E-E-E
    Strong E unison high string resonance(See E low tuning).

Love Buzz

D-A-D-G-B-F

Tuning Created by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, name is from the first song it was recorded on.

Microtonal tuning

The open strings of a guitar can be tuned to microtonal intervals, however microtonal scales can not be played on a conventional guitar because the frets only allow for a chromatic scale of twelve equally spaced pitches, each a semitone apart. It is possible to play microtonal scales on a fretless guitar or to convert a fretted guitar into a fretless. Guitars can also be refretted to a microtonal scale.[7]

Extended techniques such as 3rd bridge technique, slide guitar and prepared guitar techniques can be utilized to produce microtonality without severe modification to the instrument.

Five-string tunings

Five string guitars are common in Brazil, where they are known as guitarra baiana and are typically tuned in 5ths. Schecter Guitar Research produced a production model 5 string guitar called the Celloblaster in 1998.[8] A five-string tuning may be necessary in a pinch when a string breaks on a standard six-string (usually the high E) and no replacement is immediately available.

Some basic five-string tunings include:

  • Standard - E-A-D-G-B
    The standard tuning, without the top E string attached. Alternative variants are easy from this tuning, but because several chords inherently omit the lowest string, it may leave some chords relatively thin or incomplete with the top string missing (the D chord, for instance, must be fretted 5-4-3-2-3 to include F#, the tone a major third above D).
  • Celloblaster tuning - C-G-D-A-E
    Similar to All fifths or New Standard Tuning. Used by the noise-rock band Lightning Bolt.
  • Baritone - E-A-D-F-B
    In this tuning, the fourth (G) string is lowered a half-step, thus recreating the intervals between the top five strings, lowered a perfect fourth. Though chords can easily and more fully be played from this tuning, it sometimes results in awkward inversions, a relatively minor problem if the five-string is played in an ensemble with a bass guitar.
  • E-A-C-F-B
    Simulates the top four strings, followed by the second-from-bottom string on top, raised a whole step (the F representing both the top and bottom E). It makes playing in the key of A major easier, though chord fingerings have to be altered unless the strings are rearranged to F-B-E-A-C.
  • Open G tuning - G-D-G-B-D
    Some slide/bottleneck guitarists omit the bottom E string when playing in open G, in order to have the Root note as the tonic. This tuning is used almost exclusively by Keith Richards.
  • Open E5 tuning - E-B-E-B-E. This is achieved by removing the fourth (G) string, tuning both Es and the B down a half step, and the A and D strings up a half-step. This creates a five-string power chord.

Seven-string tunings

Similar to five-string bass guitar tuning, seven-string tuning allows for the extra string a fourth lower than the original sixth string. This allows for the note range of B standard tuning without transposing E standard guitar chords down two and a half steps down. Baritone 7-string guitars are available which features a longer scale-length allowing it to be tuned to a lower range.

  • Standard Tuning - B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Standard seven-string tuning.
  • A/B tuning - A-D-G-C-F-A-D / B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Half a step down from standard, used by bands such as Emmure and Meshuggah in their earlier days, Cannibal Corpse mid-career, Adema, American Head Charge, Sonata Arctica in their album Unia and Mushroomhead.
  • A tuning - A-D-G-C-F-A-D
    A full step down from standard. Used by bands such as Korn, Mushroomhead and Fear Factory
  • G/A tuning - G-C-F-B-E-G-C / A-D-G-B-E-A-D
    One and one half steps down from standard. Used by bands such as Slayer (on War Zone and Here Comes the Pain from God Hates Us All), Deftones (on their self-titled album) and Korn (on the song "Alone I Break", but on 14-string guitars.)
  • G tuning - G-C-F-A-D-G-C / G-C-F-B-E-G-C
    Two full steps down from standard tuning.
  • F/G tuning - F-B-E-A-D-F-B / G-B-E-A-D-G-B
    Two and one half steps down from standard. Used by Danish band Mnemic in the albums Passenger and Sons of the System.
  • F tuning - F-A-D-G-C-F-A / F-B-E-A-D-F-B
    Three full steps down from standard. Used by Meshuggah during the recording of Nothing. The songs are played live using 8 string guitars.
  • E tuning - E-A-D-G-C-E-A
    Three and one half steps down from standard.
  • D/E♭ tuning - D-G-C-F-B-D-G / E-A-D-G-B-E-A
    Four full steps down from standard.
  • D tuning - D-G-C-F-A-D-G / D-G-C-F-B-D-G
    Four and one half steps down from standard.
  • C/D tuning - C-F-B-E-A-C-F / D-G-B-E-A-D-G/
    Five full steps down from standard.
  • C tuning - C-F-A-D-G-C-F / C-F-B-E-A-C-F
    Five and one half steps down from standard.
  • Octave Tuning - B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Six full steps (one octave) down from standard tuning.
  • Thirds Tuning - E-G-C-E-G-c-e
    Same range as standard six-string. Allows over two full chromatic octaves without changing position, slides or bends.

The open C tuning for 7-string guitar was Devin Townsend's preferred tuning for the extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad.

Seven-string dropped tunings

These tunings have the added low 7th string tuned one full step lower allowing for chord structures similar to six-string drop tunings.

  • Drop B - B-F-B-E-A-C-F / B-F-B-E-G-C-F / B-G-B-E-A-D-G
    a tuning which combines the standard drop B tuning of a 6 string electric guitar, but with a high F for soloing. Used by bands such as All Shall Perish and Assemble the Chariots
  • Drop A - A-E-A-D-G-B-E
    A combination of standard 6 string tuning and a 7th string dropped one full step for power chords, used by deathcore bands such as Suicide Silence, Oceano, and Whitechapel, as well as other bands such as Blotted Science, In This Moment, Dir En Grey, Chimaira (on their first album), and occasionally Scar Symmetry, Escape the Fate, The Devil Wears Prada, and Dry Kill Logic. Triumphant Return guitarist Matti varies this tuning by dropping both the low B to A and low E to D and raising the high B and E a half-step to C and F (A-D-A-D-G-C-F).
  • Drop A - alternatively, A-E-A-D-F#-B-E
    The same as drop A tuning for a 6-string on the low strings while retaining a high E. In effect converts a 7-string into a drop A baritone guitar, but with standard tuning's soloing capability.
  • Drop G/Drop A -G-D-G-C-F-A-D / A-E-A-D-G-B-E
    One half step down from standard Drop A. Used by bands such as Destrophy and Periphery
  • Drop G - G-D-G-C-F-A-D
    A full step from standard Drop A, used by such bands as Impending Doom.
  • Drop F/Drop G - F-C-F-B-E-G-C / G-D-G-B-E-A-D
    One and one half steps down from standard Drop A. Used by Deftones (on their Saturday Night Wrist album).
  • Drop F -F-C-F-A-D-G-C / F-C-F-B-E-G-C /
    Two full steps down from standard Drop A. Triumphant Return uses a variation of this tuning also (F-C-G-C-F-A-D).
  • Drop E - E-B-E-A-D-F-B / E-B-E-A-D-G-B
    Two and one half steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop D/Drop E - D-A-D-G-C-F-A / E-B-E-A-D-F-B
    Three full steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop D - D-A-D-G-C-E-A
    Three and one half steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop C/Drop D - D-A-D-G-B-E-A / C-G-C-F-B-D-G
    Four full steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop C - C-G-C-F-A-D-G / C-G-C-F-B-D-G
    Four and one half steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop B1 - B-F-B-E-A-C-F / B-G-B-E-A-D-G
    Five full steps down from standard Drop A. Six full steps (one octave) down from a baritone Drop B guitar
  • Drop A/Drop B - A-F-A-D-G-C-F / B-F-B-E-A-C-F
    Five and one half steps down from standard Drop A.
  • Drop A1 Tuning - A-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Six full steps (one octave) down from standard Drop A.

Eight-string tunings

A continuation of the 7-string, adding another string a fifth lower than the seven strings low B. The eight string guitars additional low F string is just a whole step up from a bass guitars low E string. While luthiers have been building these instruments previously, mass-produced Eight-string electric guitars are a relatively recent innovation. Ibanez was first to offer a production 8-string guitar in March 2007.[9] Many other companies now produce mass-market 8-string models, yet these guitars remain relatively uncommon.

  • Standard - F-B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Standard eight-string tuning. Used by Scar Symmetry on the song "Mechanical Soul Cybernetics" from the album Dark Matter Dimensions and by Deftones on their album Diamond Eyes.
  • F tuning - F-B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Half a step down from standard tuning. Used by Meshuggah and After The Burial.
  • E tuning - E-A-D-G-C-F-A-D
    One full step down from standard tuning. Used by Meshuggah
  • E tuning- E-A-D-G-B-E-A-D
    One and a half steps down from standard tuning. Used by Meshuggah.
  • A tuning - A-D-G-C-F-A-D-G
    Three and one half steps down from standard tuning.
  • High A - B-E-A-D-G-B-E-A
    Standard seven string tuning with a 'high a' Used by Rusty Cooley.

Eight-string dropped tunings

  • Drop E/F - E-B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    A combination of standard 7 string tuning and a 8th string dropped one full step for power chords, used by Animals as Leaders and Whitechapel on two songs on their A New Era Of Corruption album (E-A-E-A-D-G-B-E).
  • Drop E/D - E-B-E-A-D-G-B-E
    Half a step down from drop E tuning. Used by Meshuggah in the album Catch Thirty-Three, in the song Shed, and used by Emmure in the album Speaker Of The Dead in the song "Word of Intulo"
  • Drop D - D-A-D-G-C-F-A-D
    One full step down from drop E.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.betterguitar.com/instruction/rhythm_guitar/tune_down_half_step/tune_down_half_step.html
  2. ^ Christian Musician interview article with Persons, January 1986
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Gordie (1 May 2008). "Hey Kid, What Tuning is That?". Canadian Musician 30 (3): 25. 
  4. ^ Cohen, Andy (22 March 2005). "Stefan Grossman- Country Blues Guitar in Open Tunings". Sing Out! 49 (1): 152. 
  5. ^ Steward, Gary (2004). Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. Verso. pp. 34. ISBN 9781859843680. http://books.google.com/books?id=gKEHO1z413EC&pg=PA34. 
  6. ^ Lou Reed biography at IMDB
  7. ^ "Alternative tunings on Fretted Instruments–Refretting and Other Approaches". Experimental Musical Instruments journal 3 #6: 3–6. April 1988. 
  8. ^ Schecter Guitar Research (1999) Diamond Series. Schecter Guitar Research Catalogs. Los Angeles, CA
  9. ^ Official Ibanez Forums announcement: http://www.ibanez.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4151&PN=1

External links


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