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Guitar/Alternate Tunings
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Many guitar players use alternate tunings, which differ from


standard tuning. The use of alternate tunings (non-

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standard tunings) are found throughout the history of the


classical guitar and are a major factor in the playing of


blues slide guitar. Many alternate tunings involve

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downtuning ("dropping") strings.

Contents [hide]
1 Dropped tunings
1.1 Dropped D (DADGBE)
1.2 Drop C tuning CGCFAD

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1.3 Drop B (BEBEF#B)

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1.4 Double dropped D (DADGBD)

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2 Regular tunings
2.1 Major thirds tuning
2.2 All fourths tuning
2.3 Augmented fourths tuning
2.4 All fifths tuning
2.4.1 New Standard Tuning (CGDAEG)
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3 Open tunings
3.1 Open A (EAC#EAE)
3.2 "Slide" Open A (EAEAC#E)
3.3 Open C (CGCGCE)
3.4 Open D (DADF#AD)
3.4.1 Chord shapes
3.5 Open E (EBEG#BE)
3.6 Open C6 (CACGCE)
3.7 Open G (DGDGBD)
4 Miscellaneous tunings




4.3 Standard E-flat (EbAbDbGbBbeb)


4.4 Standard D (DGCFAD)

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Dropped tunings


Dropped D (DADGBE) [edit]

The most common alternate tuning is the dropped D (or
"drop D") tuning. The lower E string is tuned down to a D.

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This tuning allows one to play power chords on the fourth,

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fifth and sixth strings with only one finger, and of course
allows for lower bass notes. Used commonly in heavy
metal, but also in nearly every other form of guitar music.
Waylon Jennings used this frequently, even dropping to D
with the use of a scruggs banjo tuner on his famous

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In standard tuning, the C-major

chord has three shapes because of the
irregular major-third between the Gand B-strings. Among alternative
tunings, regular tunings have the same

tunings, regular tunings have the same

shape for chords everywhere on the

telecaster in the middle of a song.

Drop C tuning CGCFAD [edit]

This progressive tuning is primarily used in the metalcore scene. bands such as KSE, August
Burns Red and As I Lay Dying.

Drop B (BEBEF#B) [edit]

Alternatively, you can tune to BF#BEG#C#. This tuning is mostly used by nu-metal bands like
Slipknot, many deathcore bands, and some death metal bands.

Double dropped D (DADGBD) [edit]

Similar to Dropped D above, for this tuning just drop both 'E' strings a full tone. Neil Young often
tunes his guitars this way.

Regular tunings


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Main page:
w:Regular tunings
Among alternative
regular tunings
have equal
between the paired
notes of their
successive openThe major-thirds tuning G#-C-E-G#C-E repeats its three open-notes in the
higher octave after three strings.

strings. Regular
tunings simplify the
learning of the
fretboard of the
guitar and of

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guitar and of
chords by
students. Regular
tunings also
improvisation by
Guitar tunings
assign pitches to
the open strings of
guitars. Tunings
Minor, major, and seventh chords
(C, D, G): In major-thirds tuning, major
and minor chords can be played with
two fingers on two consecutive frets.
The chords have the same shape,
unlike the chords of standard tuning.

can be described
by the particular
pitches that are
denoted by notes
in Western music.
By convention, the

notes are ordered from lowest to highest. The standard

Chords can be shifted diagonally in

major-thirds tuning and other regular

tuning defines the string pitches as E, A, D, G, B, and E.

Between the open-strings of the standard tuning are three
perfect-fourths (E-A, A-D, D-G), then the major third G-B, and the fourth perfect-fourth B-E.
In contrast, regular tunings have constant intervals between their successive open-strings:
4 semitones (major third): Major-thirds tuning,
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5 semitones (perfect fourth): All-fourths tuning,

6 semitones (augmented fourth, tritone, or diminished fifth): Augmented-fourths tuning,
7 semitones (perfect fifth): All-fifths tuning
For the regular tunings, chords may be moved diagonally around the fretboard, indeed vertically
for the repetitive regular tunings (minor thirds, major thirds, and augmented fourths). Regular
tunings thus appeal to new guitarists and also to jazz-guitarists, whose improvisation is simplified.
On the other hand, some conventional chords are easier to play in standard tuning than in regular

Major thirds tuning [edit]

[[Image:First and second inversions of C-major chord on
six-string guitar with major-thirds
tuning.png|right|thumb|alt=The C major chord and its first
and second inversions. In the first inversion, the C note
has been raised 3 strings on the same fret. In the second
inversion, both the C note and the E note have been
raised 3 strings on the same fret.|Chords are inverted by
shifting notes three strings on the same fret.
Main page: w:Major thirds tuning
Major-thirds tuning was introduced by jazz-guitarist Ralph
Chords can be translated vertically
by three strings, because major-thirds
tuning repeats itself (at a higher
octave). Again, the chords have the
same shape, unlike the chords of

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Patt in 1964. All of the intervals between its successive

open strings are major thirds; in contrast, the standard
guitar-tuning has one major-third amid four perfect-fourths.
Major-thirds tuning reduces the extensions of the little and

standard tuning.

index fingers ("hand stretching"). Major and minor chords

are played on two successive frets, and so require only two
fingers; other chordsseconds, fourths, sevenths, and

ninthsare played on three successive frets. For each regular tuning, chord patterns may be
moved around the fretboard, a property that simplifies beginners' learning of chords and that
simplifies advanced players' improvisation. In contrast, chords cannot be shifted around the
fretboard in the standard tuning E-A-D-G-B-E, which requires four chord-shapes for the major
chords. There are separate chord-forms for chords having their root note on the third, fourth, fifth,
and sixth strings. Major-thirds tuning repeats its octave after every two strings, which again
simplifies the learning of chords and improvisation; Chord inversion is especially simple in majorthirds tuning. Chords are inverted simply by raising one or two notes three strings. The raised
notes are played with the same finger as the original notes.

All fourths tuning [edit]

Main page: w:All
fourths tuning
This tuning is like
that of the lowest
four strings in
standard tuning.
Consequently, of
all the regular
tunings, it is the
In all-fourths and standard tuning,
the C7 chord has notes on frets 3-8;

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The consecutive notes of all-fourths

tuning are spaced apart by five

the C7 chord has notes on frets 3-8;

Covering six frets is difficult, and so C7
is rarely played but "alternative voicing"
are substituted instead. In major-thirds
tuning, all seventh-chords can be
played on three consecutive frets.

approximation to
standard tuning,

tuning are spaced apart by five semitones on the chromatic circle.

and thus it best

allows the transfer
of a knowledge of
chords from

standard tuning to a regular tuning. Jazz musician Stanley

Jordan plays guitar in all-fourths tuning; he has stated that
all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it
logical". Contemporary players are also moving to fourths

All fourths tuning.

tuning, noted players include Alex Hutchings and Tom

A less commonly used version of fourths tuning is retaining the regular tuning on the first and
second strings (E and B) and lowering the other strings by a semitone. This version can make
playing classical pieces more accessible.

Augmented fourths tuning [edit]

All fifths tuning [edit]
New Standard Tuning (CGDAEG) [edit]
[[Image:C major chord in new standard
tuning.png|thumb|left|C major chord in new standard tuning
Play (helpinfo).]]
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The tuning, invented and introduced by Robert Fripp of

King Crimson, is: C(6th) - G(5th) - D(4th) - A(3rd) - E(2nd)
- G(1st).
Basically this tuning is efficient because it utilizes the
tuning that is common is a cello (CGDA) , violin, and
mandolin (both GDAE), in which it is in fifth, from a low C.

New standard tuning. All perfect

fifths (C-G-D-A-E) plus a minor third (EG).

The second string is a fourth up from the B to an E, and

the first string is a
minor third up from
the E to a G.
Since the lowest
five strings are
tuned in fifths,
typical fingerings
for chords and
scales used on the
violin, cello, and
mandolin are
Open fifths on D in new standard
tuning Play (helpinfo).

applicable here.
The minor third

D major chord in new standard

tuning Play (helpinfo).

between the top

strings allow denser chords in the high range of the scale,

and easier access to some elementary chord tones (typically the thirteenth for chords with the root
note on the sixth string, and the ninth and flat ninth for chords with the root note on the fifth string,
see chord). NST has a greater range than the Old Standard Tuning, approximately a perfect fifth
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(a major third lower and a minor third higher).

Scales across two strings in NST also line up nicely into coherent tetrachords or four-note patterns
that have a visually rational relationship (whole and half-tone relationships have a remarkable
symmetry that can be easier to learn than the OST whose intervals from 6 to 1 have the
(inconsistent) major third thrown in the middle of the scale.

Open tunings


Open A (EAC#EAE) [edit]

Alternatively you could tune the guitar to EAC#AC#E

"Slide" Open A (EAEAC#E) [edit]

This tuning is identical to Open G tuning but with every string raised one step, or two frets

Open C (CGCGCE) [edit]

Used mostly by Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad.

Open D (DADF#AD) [edit]

Open D, like all open tunings, produces a major chord (in this case, D major) when all strings are
strummed. Drop the sixth, first, and second strings down two semitones, and the third string one
semitone. It is also called "DAD-fad" after its notes.
Uses the same chord shapes as Open E but is easier on a guitar neck as the strings are detuned
lessening the tension.
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Open D is a common tuning for folk, blues, and slide guitar. A variation of this tuning is open d
minor. Open D minor is tuned DADFAD, meaning the only change is that the F# is tuned down to
an F.
Chord shapes [edit]
Here are some handy chord shapes: G/D: (020120) Em7/D: (022120)

Open E (EBEG#BE) [edit]

Used by Cat Stevens and a popular choice for slide guitarists. Strumming in the open position
yields a Emajor chord. You can easily play any chord by barring across the neck at different fret
positions. This does however have some disadvantages; mainly that it is slightly more difficult to
play minor chords. Some artists overcome this by tuning to EBEGBE. This allows both minor and
major chords to be played easily. Because tightening the strings more than is intended can break
the strings or put unneeded stress on the neck, many players opt to tune in Open D and put a
capo on the second fret; the result is the same.

Open C6 (CACGCE) [edit]

This tuning is rarely used. It has been used by Jimmy Page on "Bron-Y-Aur" and "Poor Tom".

Open G (DGDGBD) [edit]

This is sometimes referred to as "Spanish Tuning", popular with slide guitarists. Tune the 1st and
6th strings down to D, and the 5th string to G.
Keith Richards uses this tuning extensively after 1968. (See Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women,
Start Me Up) He also removes the bottom 1st string because the root of the chord is on the 5th
string in Open G.
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Miscellaneous tunings


DADGAD [edit]
DADGAD (pronounced as a word: "DAD-gad"), one of the most versatile tunings, is named after
the tuning of its strings. The sixth, second, and first strings are dropped two semitones to D, A, and
D. Strumming all the strings open forms a Dsus4 chord; fretting the second fret of the third string
(or muting the third string) produces a D5 chord, or D power chord. Most songs for DADGAD are
in D major, or in G major with a capo at the fifth fret.

DADADD [edit]
This is essentially one huge power chord. Each string neatly divides the scale in half and it is easy
to make simple patterns then repeat them anywhere on the fretboard.

Standard E-flat (EbAbDbGbBbeb) [edit]

In this tuning, each string is tuned down a half step, or one fret. This is a popular tuning
throughout the history of blues and rock, and many modern bands perform with it. Stevie Ray
Vaughn frequently used this tuning with heavier strings to get a full, rich tone.

Standard D (DGCFAD) [edit]

Made popular by death metal band Death. Common in metal today.
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This page w as last modified on 9 April 2015, at 09:47.

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