Do you use alternate tunings?

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Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:30 pm

I was just reading an article about Curtis Mayfield and the wacky tuning he employed: F#A#C#F#A#F# (low to high) which apparently translates to an open F# tuning. Think 60's/70's funk. The tuning was inspired by the black keys on the piano the article says.

Got me musing again about the world o' alternate tunings as I do from time to time. Thinking
About the most daring I ever get is dropping the low E to D, with the occasional B to D for good measure. But that's only for a few songs, and mostly on acoustic. I've never used anything other than standard tuning during my "performing" years, and certainly nothing like the heavy metal heads' power chording in D tuning.

Any of the membership go down this road? If yes, whatcha doing?
And do you make a quick tuning change or have a dedicated instrument for the purpose?

"Inquiring minds want to know" What a Face

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by DimensionIV-addict on Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:35 pm

Does that include or relate to the age ol' debate of 432 vs 440 Wink
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:45 pm

Didn't know there was one.
Do elaborate. Don\'t Know

edit: (Never mind, I Googled! Laughing )
That does ring a very foggy bell now, but I think it's mostly balderdash. The only time I would detune (or uptune) along these lines would be to synch up with an old recording to play along, or perhaps with another funky instrument.

Interestingly, James Taylor plays a lot with a capo and he tunes each string to very specific Hz setting (some flat some sharp). His experience shows that it compensates for the tendency of the capo to throw off the standard 440 setting.

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by DimensionIV-addict on Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:25 pm

Googled it didja? Laughing

As for alternate tuning, it's not something I would do but the one tune that comes to mind is Van Halen's "Unchained" using a drop D. Being a metalhead, love those growls 'n' low dives. Cool

Very interesting article there too Barry on James Taylor's capo compensation.
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by corsair on Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:44 am

Yep, sure do!! I use either C6, E9 or Em on the lap steel and use, or have used open D, G, E, Em and Dm on a dedicated guitar - Vantage Avenger - fitted with a high nut and saddles.
I have to say that onstage, in my pomp, I was good enough to play slide on the B, G and D strings in concert pitch, even on the VA900 which has an exceptionally low action: a very light touch required!!
Whole songs in open tunings were generally on an acoustic in D modal or G, like Zeppelins stuff, or Ry Cooders' more poppy stuff!! The only James Taylor song I ever covered was "Fire & Rain" and that, from memory, was in concert pitch?
"Something in the air" - the old Thunderclap Newman song - was a pain to play in concert pitch, but I discovered by trial and error that it was easy-peasy in open E, and have since learned that it was recorded in E... which makes you wonder how many songs were recorded in weird and wonderful tunings, and then the sheet music was written in concert pitch?!?
Robert Johnson allegedly used some weird tuning in F...

And for the record, the tiny amount of dissonance that the 432 .v. 440 hz argument is about just adds a bit of flavour to guitar music!!

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:36 am

Wow, lots of experience there Johnny, not to mention the confidence to play it live!

Every once in awhile I'll play about with open G and attempt some slide, but my technique sucks. Sounds more like cats being murdered.

I tend to experiment more with capo settings. That can make quite a surprising difference in tone and feel without the need to re-tune (e.g., Norwegian Wood, Here Comes the Sun kind of thing)

I think tuning in 432 would only be noticeable (maybe) in a solo situation. All bets are off in a full band situation.

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Adey on Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:44 am

My "alternative tunings" are largely limited to a bit of Drop D, or "tune-it-all-down-a-semi-tone". Nothing rocket science.

I like to keep it simple, like the man doing the playing...
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by monkey on Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:27 pm

joni mitchell did a lot of her songs in alternative tuning.i think the idea was simply to make them more distinctive.

iuse E-A-D-G-C-F, simply because to my ear it sounds more melodic. i've toyed with trying G-B-D#-G-B-D# but never actually done it.
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:47 pm

monkey wrote:joni mitchell did a lot of her songs in alternative tuning...
I saw her once when she opened for Bob Dylan in Toronto about 1997. Loved her early music output, but what she was experimenting with on that occasion was just the weirdest stuff I'd heard, and almost impossible to follow.
Definitely in an alternate tuning. Made Dylan sound comprehensible by comparison!

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by gittarasaurus on Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:21 pm

i read recently that Joni Mitchell suffered a childhood disease which caused weakness in her left hand, so she compensated by using alternate tunings and deft finger-picking.
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:02 pm

Never knew that.
I'm compensating in a similar way after the stroke, but it was still weird frickin' stuff she was playing! geek

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by corsair on Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:10 pm

Joni is a freakin' alternate tuning legend, eh!! Jimmy Page uses, or used, quite a number of tunings; Keef, of course, uses a 5 string open G - can't remember who exactly he copped that off; may have been Ry Cooder who is phenomenal and a particular favourite of mine. Stephen Stills uses different tunings...
Isn't a load of thrash/heavy/black/death/et al metal done in Drop Concert pitch, or lower?

I learned the alternates long time ago when my tiny brain was endeavouring to learn Honky Tonk Woman and I couldn't make the noises Keef was... my drummer friend casually asked if maybe Keith was using a different guitar, which caused me to think outside my particular 18 year old box, and it was then a light bulb flicked on; never looked back and I've played around with them for many years just for my own entertainment, mainly, though as I said, I have used them in performance. Even recorded in G and Em once!!
Watching Gilmour doing One of these days on a Jedson lap steel was the other light bulb moment.... Delicate sound of thunder tour in 88...

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:13 pm

Back in the guitar shop days I had several 'metal head' customers. They all pretty much went with drop D tuning, with one of in particular wanting it even lower!

Always a funky time tuning, with 11's usually. Even then they felt a bit floppy. A real challenge for me to play anything that made sense. I'd rather have a baritone guitar.

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by corsair on Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:24 pm

Yeah... I'd quite like to have a play with a bari...

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by xbarnesx on Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:48 am

I used to play in full C as we called it, everything down 4 steps(C F A# D# G C) when I played in a very 'extreme' band - grind, but from a hardcore/punk mindest not a metal one, although probably sounds pretty metal to most.
link - morose
I have 2 Jackson Professionals (MIJ) with floyd roses that I spent an aeon setting up in this tuning back then using Ernie Ball Power Slinkys (46-11), one is now in standard tuning and the other in D (D G C F A D). Also on the last recording I used a Gibson SG as well (4 tracks all panned hard - Jackson left and right, SG left and right). Thats in drop D now although I dont play it very often.


more recently I've setup my Epi LP Jnr DC to D A D D A D, messing about with mostly post-hardcore/post-rock almost ambient stuff, tonnes of reverb
I like how it really makes me think about what I'm playing and I cant really fall into standard 'me' playing


Last edited by xbarnesx on Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:51 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : more detail)

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by Barry on Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:47 am

It's a good thing to subject yourself to an alternate tuning occasionally.

Anything which pushes you out of your playing comfort zone stimulates creativity and is a good thing for your growth as a player.

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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

Post by monkey on Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:44 am

monkey wrote:i've toyed with trying G-B-D#-G-B-D# but never actually done it.
... so, i tried this ... and it was pretty awful. just too far out, i think.
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Re: Do you use alternate tunings?

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