Altered Tunings

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by El Tele Lobo, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,142
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Location:
    Florida
    I love to experiment with open or altered tunings now and then, especially on acoustic. It takes everything I know about shapes and positions and largely throws it out the window. In addition to open tunings (with and without slide), I like to play with altered tunings like DADGAD and dropped D also.

    I've been listening to some percussive acoustic guys and one of them frequently uses CGCGCD, which is an interesting tuning. What are some of your favorite altered tunings. Feel free to link videos if you have performances with them.
     
  2. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    1,775
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2018
    Location:
    next to the burn zone
    The Rain Song uses a very similar tuning, DGCGCD
    And is very beautiful,

     
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  3. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    2,719
    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    Location:
    Space
    Double Drop-D is neat, too - DADGBD
     
  4. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,142
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Location:
    Florida
    Nice! Keep them coming, guys!
     
  5. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    2,045
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Far N.E. Philadelphia
    Other than standard, it’s Open D or Open G. Capo for E and A.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  6. picknfool

    picknfool Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    556
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Oakland, Ca.
    I use dropped D and double dropped D on acoustic, open E for slide/lap steel.
     
  7. Norris Vulcan

    Norris Vulcan Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    629
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Location:
    Somerset, UK, Europe
    Joni Mitchell's always tuned in an interesting way -
    Hejira : CGDFGC
    Don't Interrupt The Sorrow : CGDGBD

    And Radiohead too -
    Nude - EAEGBE
    Codex - EADABD
     
  8. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    356
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Someplace called Ohio
    If you want alternate tunings, you should look up Sonic Youth's tunings. I remember Guitar Player running an article on the band back in the late 80's, detailing some of their crazy tunings.

    There's also Robert Fripp's "Guitar Craft" tuning, which is CGDAEG, with the five lowest strings tuned in fifths. He's been using that tuning since the mid 80's. Back when King Crimson first re-convened in the mid 90's, Adrian Belew said that Fripp tended to make some "funny faces" when playing the pre-Guitar Craft material, because Fripp insists on using the Guitar Craft tuning even when doing material that was originally played in standard tuning.

    And speaking of Adrian Belew, he went through a phase in the mid 80's himself where he'd tune the G string up to A. Apparently, most or all of the songs on his solo album Twang Bar King, and the King Crimson record Three Of A Perfect Pair are in that tuning.

    Then later, I recall reading he used a tuning where he drops the D down to C, I think that's the tuning he used on The ConstruKction Of Light.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    El Tele Lobo and AAT65 like this.
  9. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    3,722
    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    Location:
    West Lothian, Scotland
    The Sonic Youth tunings are amazing but not easy to try as they often need custom gauge sets of strings. Here’s a great resource: http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/tab/tuning.html

    I tried Fripp’s CGDAEG tuning for a while... it didn’t agree with me! The theory was to eliminate the irregular 3rd between G and B, although practically he had to give up on a top string tuned to B. Fripp rather modestly calls it the New Standard Tuning (NST) although it’s not much of a standard...

    Another person who used interesting tunings back in the day was Mike Rutherford of Genesis. This is why Gabriel used to tell such long stories between songs, as Rutherford retuned his 12-string, and later why he had Shergold make him a click-together double-neck with two 12-string necks — one was kept in Drop-D (which is what Rutherford uses regularly now I believe) and the other was used for “funky” tunings (retuned if necessary by a guitar tech offstage).
    My favourite Rutherford tuning is the Cinema Show tuning — Dd Gg Da Ge bb ee. Another favourite is the Musical Box tuning — which iirc is E A D F# F# f#.
     
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  10. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    356
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Someplace called Ohio
    As far as I can determine, those are the two main examples of his odd tunings. I've been told by someone who plays in a Genesis tribute band that Rutherford's "standard" tuning is both E strings down to D.

    If I remember correctly, the Shergold doubleneck had four guitar necks: three 12 strings, and a six string. I remember seeing one interview where he said he "rarely" used the six string neck, but if you watch the Three Sides Live video, you can see him using the six string neck on the In The Cage/Cinema Show/Colony Of The Slippermen/Afterglow medley. But all the concert footage I've seen circa 1977-1980, he has one of the 12 string necks on Shergold.

    Another interesting tihng about the Shergold was he could use them as single neck instruments too, though he doesn't seem to have used them way very often. There's a concert from 1980 that was shot by the BBC, where they do Say It's Alright Joe, where he uses one of the 12 strings that way, but that's the only example I can think of. And between 1973 and 1982, whenever he only needed bass for a given song, he'd still use a doubleneck, the one exception I know of being on the Wind And Wuthering tour, where he'd use a Hagstrom 8 string on I Know What I Like.
     
    AAT65 likes this.
  11. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    3,786
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Location:
    Florida USA
    Paul Westerberg used open A for a few things. EAEAC#E. Combine that with some Keef influence and you get this:

     
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  12. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    641
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2016
    Location:
    San Antonio
    Dobro tuning is fun
    GBDGBD

    Take that same idea with a Cuban tres tuning
    GCEGCE

    This is based off the draw notes in a harmonica
    DBGDFA
    It’s neat, but really requires some special string gauges. The tension is weird.

    I’ve thrown a bunch of different tunings on the guitars just to futz around. The most useful app I have for it is called GuitarToolKit. I can put all sorts of made-up tunings in it and it will show me chord forms and scales.

    I was surprised how many partial chord shapes are similar between tunings.

    They might be on different strings and they won’t always get you the same kind of chord, but it’ll sound good.
     
  13. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    969
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2015
    Location:
    Upper Midwest
    For songs, for gigging about half my songs are in standard tuning and the rest in one opening/drop tuning or another = mostly Open D, Open G, Drop D and Drop A. (I capo around a lot to accommodate my voice.) My take is that each tuning contains a musical universe that I'm forever just beginning to explore. I'm lately re-obsessing with Open G.

    I don't have any videos but here are a couple of live-into-the-mic acoustic samples one in Open D and the other in Drop D.

    This song, Colours, I first heard by Donovan in the mid-60s. Capo on 3rd fret so key of F. I love the way you can combine fretted notes with open notes in open tunings. 1968 Standel Mini Jumbo.


    This is a Little Feat song, Sailin Shoes. Drop D with capo on 2nd fret so key of E. Slide on the break. Running a parlor guitar into a Fishman "Fish Stick."
     
    El Tele Lobo and teletimetx like this.
  14. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,188
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    EBEEBE
     
    ScribbleSomething likes this.
  15. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,142
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Location:
    Florida
    Man, these are great! Cant wait to try some of them! Keep them coming!
     
  16. Don Miller

    Don Miller Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    1,550
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    For a while I kept a guitar in a sitar like tuning...

    FCEGCC low to high...the low C was equivalent to the 3rd fret A string, the high Cs were unison drones...while there are lots of variations for tuning a sitar, I think that on an actual sitar the last high C would be an octave above the second string middle C..like the 8th fret on high E but that wasn't practical....
     
    ScribbleSomething likes this.
  17. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    62,193
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Location:
    Austin, Tx
    I am really quite staid, and happy with standard tuning.
    I occasionally foray into Drop D or double drop D, but that’s it.
    Thanks for listening.
     
  18. howlin

    howlin Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,268
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    Location:
    Who wants to know?
    I use Drop D and am now exploring Drop C [CGCFAD] because I'm a bass player and I like those lower tones. The one thing I've been doing for over 25 years is to take a guitar tuned to Drop D and capo the four lower strings at the 2nd fret. This gives you a DADGAD-type tuning but leaves the chord positions in Drop D. It may sound a bit weird/wacky but it's very versatile IMHE and I use it as much and sometimes more than any other tuning these days.
     
  19. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    641
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2016
    Location:
    San Antonio
    @howlin what do you use for your low c string?

    I strung up my new LP to open C using 13’s and it’s a bit too floppy. The big string is a 54. Since I usually use 10’s I figured it’d be fine.

    For temporary measures I tuned it up to E so the third is on top. Which is also nice because the patterns on the bottom 3 string are now the same as the top 3. But I’d like that low note sometimes.
     
  20. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    22,200
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Location:
    West O' Philly, PA
    Some open minor tunings. I have spent hours having fun with these:

    Moody Woman (open Em)
    EBEGBE

    Weasel (open Am)
    EAEACE

    Hornbug (open Dm)
    DADFAD

    Some Hawaiian open tunings:
    Wahine= tuning with a major 7th
    Mauna Loa= major chord with the top two strings tuned a fifth apart.

    G Wahine
    DGDF#BD

    D Wahine
    DADF#AC

    C Wahine
    CGDGBD

    F Wahine
    CFCGCE

    C Mauna Loa
    CGEGAE

    G Mauna Loa
    DGDDGD

    G6 Mauna Loa
    DGDEGD

    C Samoan Mauna Loa
    FGCGAE

    C Ni’ ihau/Old Mauna Loa
    CGDGAD

    **All tunings low to high (L-R).
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.