Standard Tuned Guitar

Standard Tuned Guitar

I have always admitted to be in favour of guitar players who provide tasteful backing on a standard tuned guitar (ie EADGBE). I think it is more interesting than all of that open tuning. I don’t hear it being used to much effect that often and mostly because there aren’t that many players I know of that use it. I believe Gavin Ralston is one but that’s all I know of. Most other players use DADGAD and drop D.

Could someone please recommend guitar accompaniments who use standard tuning to good effect please? I probably have recordings of some but wasn’t aware they used standard tuning. Does John O’Connell (the Offaly man who I haven’t heard recorded on any CDs) use standard tuning? I think he may and I like his backing.

Re: Standard Tuned Guitar

as far as I know Gavin Ralston uses drop D.

I think Arty McGlynn is a standard as is Denis Cahill, and I think Ian Carr

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dude, ive been waiting for someone to post sumthin like this for ages! chris kelly all the way! remember reltime? mairin fahey band?? the man started usin swing guitar with trad, thats how id prefer to back on guitar as well, and all standard too!

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speaking of swing I presume Peerie Willie Johnson was in standard

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I’ve seen Willie play and from where I sat it looked like standard chords.

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Tony Byrne and Matt Heaton are two more who use standard tuning primarily.

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My child, who knows about these things, claims that DADGAD is the ONLY way to play Irish stuff.

He uses standard setting himself, so loses interest.

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I back in standard and have to agree, it’s easier and I like the sound. Different to DADGAD or DROP D completely - that’s not necessarily bad.

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I believe Pat Egan of Chulrua is in standard. Also the very nice NY player John Dillon has a great way with it.

Personally, I love my dropped D droning capabilities. I suppose it depends how you play. Dropped D is just a short skip from standard, but allows more ease of playing and a fuller sound for the particular way I play. That’s for backing. TUne playing is generally, but not always, DADGAD. It can surely be done in standard too though, or dropped D. It all depends on the tune and how you get around it easiest and fullest sounding.

Speaking of great guitar players, the all too forgotten player Nic Jones, been listening to him again. English fellow but he did a brilliant Planxty Davis I think it was, on the Penguin Eggs album… the CD is in the car, so can’t check right now.

he had a terribly car accident in the 80s sometime and it left him a mess and he stopped touring. he does still do "daily battle with his guitar" as his website says.

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"I think Arty McGlynn is a standard as is Denis Cahill, and I think Ian Carr"

Many guitarists that back in standard tuning tune down to drop D sometimes - I have heard Arty McGlynn using it on recordings and I have seen Ian Carr switching freely between the two tunings between tunes, or even mid-tune. Why get religious about tunings?

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Yep Ian Carr does play in standard (so did Peerie Willie) as does Kris Drever. Anna Massie is also in standard as is Jenn Butterworth (from Anna’s band). If you ever see a great band, Box Club (4 PAs, a guitar, double bass and drum kit) then their guitarist, Mike Bryan is also standard tuned.

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Yes Arty McGlynn is fantastic. I suppose Drop D isn’t too "extracted" from the standard tuned guitar but I suppose I haven’t got around to working out some accompaniment with drop D and so, haven’t really been seeking out players that use it, yet.

I was wrong in my first post, Gavin Ralston does indeed use drop D. I like Daithí Sproule and Ged Foley. What tuning do they use?

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I believe Daithi Sproule is DADGAD.

Dropped D in my humble opinion is very close to standard, but adds many other possibilities, like making playing in B Minor and F and some other difficult in standard keys (esp. for those of us with small hands and who don’t lake barre chords!) sound deeper and can be done more easily. In a sense it’s the best of both worlds for backing where you can do a lot of the DADGAD configurations on the three lower strings and also play lots of the standard tuning chords if you wish. The only real changes may really need night be to a G chord, and maybe an E chord or E minor. You can fairly well still play standard style with dropped D if you want, but you can call on the low droney D when needed for the numerous tunes in D and make them richer and fuller, give added depth. That’s just my take on it for the way I back anyway.

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Pardon the typo and bad sentence…"night" obviously is "YOU may really need Might"…. that’s what I get for giving up coffee again! May be others, LOL! Please forgive!

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I believe Ged Foley plays in CGCGCD tuning, and capoes at 2 for his "base" tuning.

Just as a general comment, all the good backers I’ve heard are fluent in a number of tunings, and will change them based on what they want to do behind a tune.

As someone else said, there’s no reason to get religious about it.

I’ll second what Iris said about drop-D. I got into backing using that tuning because iI could bring over most of the chord shapes I had learned in standard tuning as a lad. At he same time, it allows you to incorporate a variety of different voicings and nice drones that work well in backing ITM as your playing and understanding of what you’re doing develops.

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Jeff… it’s also apparently easier to glide around in dropped D for most people I have introduced it to, it is for me and also sounds better to my ear. I have converted a good handful of standard players to dropped D in some workshops I taught at IAANJ and some private lessons.

The beauty of it is that there needn’t be any interruption in their playing while they unlearn what they know, which they’d have to do for DADGAD, and relearn the new ideas. If they find themselves at sea in the midst of a session in the new Dropped D, they can pretty much, basically except for the G chord, ignore the D string and do what they are used to. Gradually they can work in the new dropped string.

Being a total ear and eye player/teacher, I had to really spend a good long while analyzing exactly what it was I was doing. Playing for nearly 45 years, it becomes second nature, you don’t think about it, and I have literally dozed off into a half sleep while playing a few times without dropping the tune, which was a very bizarre feeling! It is sometimes hard to convey things you do without thinking, but I had to learn to explain it well and that was a very tough call! it took about a full year!

One thing I am able to do in Dropped D whether for fingerstyle, which I play for both backing and tunes, or for flatpicking, which it easily adapts to… is a series of one finger chords. A chord obviously needs more notes to be a chord, but you can slide one finger up and down the dropped D string and A string with ease and speed while playing other open strings with it. It makes it possible to keep up with the fastest players with a lot more ease than I ever had with standard tuning, though someone like Pat Egan sure can manage it better than I could in standard! It is very easily taught by ear and eye, people pick it up fast and many never go back to standard tuning.

For playing tunes, I like the more open sound of DADGAD for most things, it’s more harplike and resonant. the open strings keep ringing on, it’s especially nice on an air. I look on the guitar as a form of harp really, but more portable, and instead of all the strings we have frets to change the notes. Playing fingerstyle tunes, it can sound much like the harp.

There’s a mirror image, almost, discussion going on now at www.celticguitartalk.com . I am not sure whether you need to join to read, you do to post though. There is a wealth of info over there and I’d recommend it to all the guitar players on this group. Very detailed discussions, links, teaching materials. You will find such luminaries as Donal Clancy, Tony McManus, El McMeen, Robin Bullock and others posting there frequently with excellent advice.

I think El McMeen plays that C tuning too, Jeff. He is primarily a tune player though, not a backer. He is also a lovely person who is very, very quick and generous with his advice over at that site, and is a very brilliant player who also knows all the technicalities, music theory, tab, dots etc.

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And Em Iris. This is one fo the reasons i back in standard and only use drop D for the tunes. The guitar is built , as far as i am aware with E as one of its major resonances. That E string really rings out. Plus the G chord you mentioned.
I suppose backing in standard for so long, i am an ‘old dog’ reluctant to learn new tricks😎 I dart between GCD, DGA, Em D, Am G. that trying to do this in drop D would not be practical for me. I play mostly open chords, only using barre and half bars for A major and Em inversions[ generally]

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Hmm. So I looked up Drop D tuning (not being a guitar player or anything) and it looks like the first three strings are DAD. This is similar to my dulcimer. Would it be frowned upon to bring a dulcimer to a session. Not a hammered dulcimer, mind you, but an Appalachian dulcimer.

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We’ve had a dulcimer player show up at our session sometimes in the past, played some nice O’Carolan. No problem.

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i’ve very rarely played standard in the last few years, since i movedto DADGAD via drop D and am currently messing around with other open tunings. its generally not a crime to use standard tuning, im thinking about re-learning it myself, its just i’ve had plenty of bad experiences with standard players who aint got the first notion of what theyre doing re: backing tunes. plus DADGAD sounds soo much nicer, and involves less finger-breaking positions as i believe somebody else mentioned… its a matter of taste i guess, so in the end, it’s not important what i think..