Alternate tunings on the rise?

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by oceanblue, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. oceanblue

    oceanblue Tele-Meister

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    More and more, I look up songs I want to learn, and the first thing I see is the alternate tuning being used, all strings 1/2 step down, sometimes with one or two strings a whole step, the rest a 1/2 step, drop D, open tunings, etc.
    Do you thing this is on the rise? Do those of you playing in cover bands find you need to change tunings often, or keep a couple of extra guitars to switch to during sets? If so, what tunings do you keep your guitars in? 1 Standard, a second 1/2 step down, a third drop D for example?

    One last thought, do you think the alternate tunings are used more to match the singers voice/key or to achieve a tone the guitarist is looking for in the song? Or their tone in general?
     
  2. johnny k

    johnny k Friend of Leo's

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    I don t think it s really on the rise, it s always been there. Grunge bands sometimes tuned in Eb, metal bands tune lower as well,( black sabbath, behemoth.... ) Sonic youth like to use wonky tunings, and if you play bottleneck, it s a bit easier if you use open tunings.

    I don t think you need a 2nd guitar tuned in Eb, if you can sing it in standard tuning, do it in standard tuning.

    For drop D, it takes 2 seconds to tuning so i wouldn t bother with another guitar tuned in drop D. A 2nd guitar might come in handy if you use open tunings.

    For the last part, metal dudes tune lower because it sounds darker, spookier that way.
    Depending on your ability to sing, you might want to tune in Eb, making some melodies easier to sing. As tuning in Eb to have a specific tone, i m not really sure i d do it, since there is not a real big difference between standard and Eb. if you tune to B instead of E, there s a clear difference.
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As @johnny k points out, there are lots of reasons for alternate tunings. I think it is nice to know a bunch of different alternate tunings as part of your sonic library, but at the same time understand their applications in order to be a well rounded musician.

    I play four different alternate tunings regularly. A good buddy plays almost exclusively DADGAD. I never play DADGAD. Point is that everyone will be different regarding tunings.
     
  4. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    The Candyrat Records label has a whole army of acoustic players who use crazy alternate tunings, split capos, all kinds of odd stuff. A lot of pretty awesome acoustic guys on that label.

    - D
     
  5. darkwaters

    darkwaters Tele-Afflicted

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    A few years back, I was deeply into Irish fingerpicking and Middle Eastern music and played almost exclusively in DADGAD (plus one or 2 other altered tunings). I drifted away from this when I got more into electric and jazz, but lately I've been rediscovering the joys of DADGAD and those old tunes, Black Mountain Side being a particular favorite. I don't sing, so, for me, it's about getting unusual and inspiring sounds from an instrument that you thought you knew.
     
  6. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I always have two tuned Teles of my three, one in concert and one in G tuning for Stones and Ry Cooder.
    The third one's a spare as it has vintage pickups in it that seem a bit bright to me.
     
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  7. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Open C is a cool one too, especially if you play slide.
     
  8. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Holic

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    I’m from the “school of thought” that when we cover a song, we should make it our own - not try to exactly mimic the original artist’s recording; so I don’t worry about the original key or original tunings.

    On the other hand, I definitely like trying out different tunings. They are almost essential on the lap steel, and a lot of fun on “normal” guitars.

    Great question, and interesting responses!
     
  9. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I am fascinated by alternate tunings ... However, I would like to master standard tuning before exploring others ... I'm still working on it ... 45 years later ...
     
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  10. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Stones used them in the 60s, but they did get more popular in the 90s and 2000s. I'm not aware of the situation now.
     
  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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  12. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I hope not. I had some friends who got all into drop D stuff back in the '90s. At least for me, there's a lifetime of music to explore in standard tuning.
     
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  13. lowatter

    lowatter Tele-Meister

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    I love doing open tuning dittys. They just seem to easily flow and inspire creativity. I only do originals and it seems that when I open tune something usually materializes. Here's one I did last year that I wrote and recorded within an hour...
     
  14. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I guess some downtune a 1/2 step to accommodate the singer. The last band I was in did it for this reason.

    Alternative tunings have always been around though, especially for slide and folk music.
     
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  15. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's

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    I think part of it is to separate themselves from the crowd. To find their own sound
     
  16. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    Recently switched a guitar to open C.
    I love how it doesn't sound as dark and deep as other open tunings, despite having strings tuned lower than any other tuning I use.
     
  17. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Agreed :)
     
  18. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    This reminds me of when ever my father tries to play my guitar and immediately says “ have you got it in one of those wacky tunings?!” Then proceeds to tell me how when he was a kid this stuff didn’t exist then I tell him how tunings have been around for a century or so.
    So he tells me that “when we played guitar we just played”

    Also today there’s a lot more information out there for us without super ears that can’t tell a record is sped up to sound a quarter step higher.
    And every music magazine with tabs have notes on tuning for each song
     
  19. doc w

    doc w Tele-Afflicted

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    Based on my experience as a teacher, I think they are becoming more common. There are so many offbeat and idiosyncratic folkie tunings out there and my students are always bringing them in. Drop D is pretty common as are the basic slide tunings. Lots of DADGAD of course.

    But the most common is the Eb tuning which I find a bit of a pretension. If Hendrix had not played flat (mainly because of his weak voice), it would not have become such a thing. Personally, I find it a gigantic pain the arse because it forces everyone else in the band to tune down or play in Eb. I don't mind playing jazz in the flat keys, but for most rock and blues, and when accompanying folkies, I want lots of open strings. So no Eb. My guitars are now Eb-free zones!
     
  20. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    They are great for song writing. You will play chords you might not otherwise play and you will play them alot more naturally because you don't have to make difficult or strange shapes. I think that is why joni mitchell was so fond of them. It can get you really distinct sounds when changing chords or keys, that sound more abrupt when you are just playing in standard. It is like there is a tone connecting it together and making it sound so natural and tied together.
     
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