"I've used maybe 50 different tunings throughout our recording
history... You'll stumble on a tuning by accident, completely
uncalled for and completely right there... Usually I just fool
around until something happens that sounds right." -Billy Gibbons
DADGBD "puts a partial D chord on the bottom and a G chord on the
top 3. It's used on a lot of slide cuts we do."
"Another is the 'cheaters 12.' Use a little string in place of
the big E and tune it to E. Replace the A string with another
smaller string. Use the same size string for your D string,
tuned to high D. You've got standard tuning, but strange octaves"
It's good for rhythm. -Billy Gibbons
Are you sick of your
sound and stuck in a rut? Are you stumped on a song?
Are you sick of sounding like
Retune your guitar. It's
a cliche killer!
It's better than the first day you
started playing. Your guitar will be mysterious
all over again! You have all your technique, but the notes are completely different.
Your cliche licks and lines will dissapear.
I'm getting into some sort of rut, I do
something really radical like change the tuning of the guitar."
E A D G B E
It's not easy. It's convenient.
You can play
signatures in a span of 5 frets.
D G B E
low strings D A D make a chord.
with one finger and slide it up and down.
The open strings
make any chord you want.
fret is the same type
The open strings
The 1st fret is Fm7
The 2nd fret is F#m7
The 3rd fret is Gm7
Choose any chord.
Tune your guitar to those
thing I like to do "is tune
the A string
down an octave. It's good to use
when you don't have a bass player."
Randomly tune your guitar.
notes sound good.
Some of my best ideas have just
accidents or peculiarities of one tuning or another…It's confusing to
keep all the tunings straight, but I've settled on four or five I
lot." -Ry Cooder
Use de-tuned notes
(out of tune notes). Break all the rules.
Slide 5, 7 or 12 frets.
Add any notes.
you like them?
you like it.
Red dots =
the chord shape
5 is a Major chord, see theory
Black numbers =
that string is the same note as, the 5th fret of
the string below it.
like a major chord.
Standard tuning takes a year to
you play right now.
The possibilities are endless.
This tuning helps
you play in key right now.
Black numbers =
= intervals in the chord. See
two shapes and play rhythm guitar.
the patterns up and down the neck.
You'll get good at sliding using
Patterns of right
Tunings can make infinite open
but each string has internal note relationships.
There's always a "half step" between notes.
octave is always 12 frets up.
string note is a root
you want to play a major chord, play 1-3-5 on that string.
Some alternate tunings don't play chords across all 6 strings.
You need to create fingerings.
each string is a separate chord system.
when you're using crazy tunings or "notes that
Green strings sound good together
Purple strings sound good together
= the root note, 4th 5th
and octave on each
= minor chord distance from
Red dots = major
chord distance from the root
across green and
purple doesn't sound good
in this example.
Treat the green and purple as two
Use one for the
verse, one for the chorus... whatever.
explanations of why these intervals were chosen
you're playing minor or Major, adjust your interval and note choices.
The right tuning for each style:
Country, Pop, Folk:
Major chords and
Dom7th - (b7 Major chords). Play
scales over top.
tuning, or drop C, etc.
chords and extensions.
The things I play couldn't be
played in standard
Find chord patterns in
your favorite style.
Create a tuning that makes a
sound you like.
See chord progression
look for patterns in the chord
often use chords with the same extensions
A song might have a 2m
chord* that has a b7
(a minor 7th chord)
chord, and 6m
chord also have b7's
. (also minor 7th's)
(2nd minor chord) in a Major key
** A minor
chord is made of intervals 1, b3, 5. Add a b7
Tune your guitar to create a
minor 7 that you can play
with one finger.
Slide your finger up and down,
(5 or 7 frets) (or whatever)
intervals, 9th, 11th and 13th are actually 2, 4 and 6
Find chords you like
part of the tuning standard
If you plan to jam
If you instinctively know
It helps to have strings where
"things are normal"
known with the unknown,
often gets good results.
Tune two strings to the same note
gives you a droning sound.
It has a very full tone.
If i want a piece "to sound
like a dulcimer,
two strings to the same pitch."
Try de-tuning one string a 1/4 turn
out of tune.
This can be very intense.
Let the song dictate the tuning.
Is the song angry? Tune it low and dissonant...
it happy? Sad?
it about? What sound does it suggest?
"Sometimes I find a tuning that
what I hear in my head, and sometimes a tuning will suggest a
to the sound interaction between the strings.
hear something you like.
My telecaster has an odd tuning
"F A D D G D. I was having a little bit of difficulty coming
out with something I was pleased with. I
decided as a radical change of approach to just tune the guitar up to
that seemed right. It was pure chance, but it does sound a
beautiful chord in relation to the song" -The
evolve. I'll say 'Oh, I can do this and this, but I
can't do that, that and that. So
I try to reduce the number of that’s, and that's the tuning" -Michael Hedges
another guitar for performances
need a different guitar for each drastic
You won't have time to retune.
Most sets are 30 minutes long.
Your guitar won't stay in tune if you retune it.
bridges won't allow drastic re-tuning. Don't even try.
Keep them tuned and ready.
Switching guitars looks
tuning that uses harmonics
I started using open tunings
not for bottleneck. I was trying to
get a fatter sound." -Ry
On Tell the truth "I wasn't
playing slide, I
was just making chords in open tuning. I got that from Kieth Richards,
he just tunes
it to an open chord and invents fingerings."
"A lot of players use the
training finger to stop unwanted
resonance in the strings behind the bottleneck. I don't do
that. I control some of the problem with my picking
hand, but I like the effect it gives, the sort of strange
I'm using a slide "I use the edge
right hand to keep the other strings from ringing randomly. I
also dampen the stringsbehind
the bar with the edge of my left hand.
It's all done in a sort of a lap fashion, not in an upright
For slide, I realized that "you
the bridge up a bit and you put thicker strings on it, so
it doesn't clatter around."
I can improvise in a odd tuning,
but "only if I know
that tuning real well." Some say to
"find your favorite tuning and stick with it, but I can't do that, because
my compositions won't allow me to." -Michael Hedges
Summer' "I tuned my guitar to "B, A, D, G, A, D.
It's a modal tuning, a sitar tuning."