DADGAD or Dropped D?

DADGAD or Dropped D?

I keep going back and forth between these two tunings. I cant decide which to use for backup.

I like DADGAD due to the easy modal chord voicings. However, sometimes certain chord changes arnt as crisp as i would like them to be. Things sometimes get lost in this big mud due to the open strings ringing along. Ascending/decending bass lines are easily availabe in dadgad.

Drop D is fun, i like the John Doyle stye backup. My chords tend to contain more thirds in this tuning, but the chord changes sound crisper to me.


Any thoughts?



anton

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Put one of those little levers on your guitar and play either when the mood strikes. :)

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

On odd days, use the DADGAD.
On even days, use the drop D tuning.
On national holidays, implement Gian Marco’s theory of five, four and three-stinged guitar (available free of charge on this site).



Aw right, me leavin now. Stop spitting, please.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

You could always try the 9-string baliset :) Plenty of scope for tuning there.
Trevor

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I play tunes in DADGAD, use dropped D solely for backing. It’s the best I feel, you almost never have to stop to capo, slide into any key with ease. E major a bit rough is all, it is possible this way, but sounds fuller with capo on 2nd fret, then using the D configuratons.

Thing is though, I fingerpick so do not hit all the strings all the time, as some of them are not synpathetic with some of the new chording configurations….I play chords maybe only half the time, other times am noting mainly on the bass strings with the index finger brushing sympathetic higher strings only. If that makes any sense without actually hearing or seeing it. I am able to run all over the fingerboard, and real fast this way.Knowing the tunes very well helps. It is also quite good volume wise, audible at a session with a thumbpick even though fingerpicking.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

To guitarists, this is a wonderful question! I’ve pondered this myself and have come to believe that DADGAD is the best. I appreceiate the non-crisp comment, but you’re a backer when playing chords and crispness will come from the many melody makers. After seeing Altan this past weekend I’m convinced I’m right — great show and great DADGAD backing (I think it was anyway??).

Zina, what little lever? Do you mean a capo? Is there a 2-string capo out there that can be used on 1st and 2nd strings??

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

There is a capo called "Third Hand" capo. It’s an interesting device. It’s basically six individual capos on one strap. It allows you to capo any combintaion of strings. They probably have a website. Otherwise check at Harvey Reid’s (guitarist) website. He’s the original inventor.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Try double dropped D.DADGBD.You can let first and sixth strings ring for a DADGAD sound and because the middle four stings are in standard tuning you can play the thirds,diminished and augumented chords that sound so mushy in DADGAD,and with a bit of practise you can play in different keys without using a capo,thus avoiding one of the main disadvantages of DADGAD,ie,lack of tonal colour.If you slap a capo on the fifth fret in DADGAD to play in G you use the same diad "chords" that you would use to play in D and sounds tonally the same,only a fifth higher.Don’t be a DADGAD clone!

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I like drop-D. This is just an opinion - but I think that DADGAD players often seem to make every tune sound "modal", never giving a real contrast between major, minor and "modal" tunes. I know, I know… they’re all modal, technically, but you know what I mean.

Really that’s not totally the fault of the tuning. Any player can get stuck in ruts, making all their backing sound the same. The various tunings do lend themselves to forming certain habits, however. Drop-d can turn you into a glam rocker. Mind your hair - if you’re playing a set an it starts growing puffier and sprouting bangs then it’s time to stop.

I just think that drop-d provides a lot of versatility.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I’m jumping in having just dusted off my guitar this week (ouch). I started with DropD but soon got DADgad-itis and so use both.

Trouble is, having to tune back up, pops the B and the high e. I used to put medium gauge on only the B and e, and also a tiny bit of electrical rubber (like from a telephone wire), slipped over the string at the tuning peg where it bites into the tuner. (This also saved my tuners from being gouged by the constant re-tuning).

"Sharping levers" sure would have saved me a lot of B and e strings!

Lesl

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Mark — there’s these replacement tuner mechanisms with a little lever on that allows you to flip the little lever and drop the tuning accurately to the E on the fly. Matt Heaton has one on his guitar. Not all guitars can take them, though — I think some of the Martin’s can’t, fer’instance — and they can be pretty pricey. Most people have a luthier install them. Some of the mechanisms only work on the E, some will work on any string.

Take a look at http://www.tejagerken.com/Article_Folder/tuning_gizmos.html for more info…

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I think Jocklet’s "lack of tonal color comment" re: capos and DADGAD is a valid one which is why, as a DADGAD player, I tend not to use a capo that much. The truth is that with practice, you can play in any key you want in DADGAD sans capo (tho E flat can be tough). Further, you certainly CAN get crispness and versatility and all the "thirds diminished and augmented chords" you want without sacrificing clarity. Three conditions: you’ll have to put in some time/effort, think about your voicings, and be willing to stretch. You only get in ruts when you stop thinking.

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I use DADGAD pretty much exclusively for tunes, and alternate between it and double-dropped D for songs.
I’m familiar with the shortcomings often cited for DADGAD but still like it. In fact, during the past few years I’ve tried to work on my chording approach and technique to the point where I seldom if ever have to use a capo (F is still tricky, and I haven’t even ventured into E major — but then again, few people I play with do, either.) I also find I can add a lot more variety to my chord patterns than I used to, which seems to cut down on the "mushiness" to which jocklet refers.
It’s when I use DADGBD that I most often capo up. When I started experimenting with the tuning lo these many years ago, I began holding down the D on the B (2nd) string with my ring finger; this gave me an "extra drone" at the top (i.e., a D on both the 1st and 2nd strings), if you will, while I played rhythm or picked around the melody.
Because my voice is particularly suited to G or A, I use a capo so I can still play in the D position. But there are some songs for which I switch back to DADGAD.

Point is, I’m happy enough with using both tunings — albeit not necessarily in the way Anton originally meant — and don’t tend to see this as an "either-or" proposition.

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I never use a capo. C and F are both very nice keys to play in with a DADGAD instrument. Just open your mind and ears. E is a bit tougher physically but certainly offers lots of interesting possibilities. G minor is another great key for DADGAD.

"Diminished and augmented chords"????? Yikes!!! Not at the sessions I go to. Get your chops together and head down to your local jazz session. There’ll be no flat 5’s or sharp 5’s in my ITM, thank you very much. :-)

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Fair enough, Tusong, to each their own. My comment was more to say that the tuning is really only limited by the players imagination. (But the odd passing diminished chord can’t be that bad eh?)

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I use DADGBD, its like a combination of the 2.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I’ve seen one of these levers that Zina mentions - it’s not a capo. It clamps down onto the string, between the nut and the machine head post, thus adding tension to the string and raising the pitch - much like harp levers. The guitarist I met (a friend of our own Kenny at The Session) had one of these to switch from dropped-D into standard tuning. To switch between dropped-D and DADGAD, presumably you’d need two of them. If you had them on all six strings you could switch between standard, dropped-D, DADGAD, open-D and open-G - but it might be less hassle just to carry five guitars around .

My advice to Anton is, be flexible. Use whichever tuning takes your fancy at the time. Sometimes one might be more appropriate than the other - for example, if you’re accompanying a piper, DADGAD might work better.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Thanks for the discussion everyone. I think ultimately its the player not the tuning. Look at Dennis Cahill, John Doyle, and Paddy League. I like all their accompaniment styles, even though each one uses a different tuning.

I may go back to Drop D for a bit, as i have the John Doyle video and dont want to let it sit on the shelf.

Does anyone know what tuning Donogh Hennessy uses?


anton

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Another funny little tuning which I found recently is DADGAE. I found it really nice; it has many of the advantages of DADGAD & Standard. The double drop D never really turned me on much, it’s like Open G & DADGAD mated & gave birth to a mule - but that’s just me *playing* in it, I’ve heard people do really great things with it. All in all it doesn’t really matter how you tune it, if you know what’s up you can get a great sound out of any tuning, even (dare I say) standard.

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Last Fall I took a workshop and played with DADF#AD
and really liked the sound better than DADGAD…
‘tho getting the 12-string tempered in that took
a few extra minutes

For backing I usually use standard/missionary or a modified Dropped D … whole guitar is tuned down a whole step, then
5-string capo on 2nd fret high 5-strings. :-|

Figure out what you like and what works for the instuments
and musicians you are backing and keep practicing …
as David wrote, be flexible

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

But for the full on ‘power chord’ backing, you can’t beat DDDddd. Makes learning the major chord shapes a doddle as well…

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Anton,
Donogh Hennessy uses DADGBD. most of the time. On nylon, as far as I can say, he uses standard classical tuning, and sometimes he swiches to other tunings (he montioned playing CGDGBD, DGDGBD, EADGBE and others).

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

and DADGAD, of course, forgot about that one *grin*

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I have one very nice Elizabethan/17th Century pieces written out in tab for fingerstyle, tuned EADF#BE. Allows for the use of some open strings that ring out and give haunting overtones. Mark

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I have a Greek bouzouki tuned DAD. I wanted to see if I could get the sound Alec Finn makes. Didn’t work though and it’s not the instruments fault except I can hardly keep the thing in my lap. Any one else have a similar instrument or do I need a new thread here?

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Hmmm…just tried double-dropped-d…..haven’t given it a fair shake, but it sounds a bit too new-agey-modal in some chord configurations I use. Basically not into the jazzy-modal sound at all, a die-hard traditionalist, maybe my age is showing, LOL….what’cha think, Lesl?

For fingerpicking tunes seems DADGAD is already progammed into the neuro-paths in my brain….play entirely by ear and have trouble with reading music or tab, so shall stick with what works. As far as backing, just low dropped D, I like it a lot, it is amazing what one little string can do to increase versatility and almost entirely eliminate the need to capo, great for the fast key-switch.

I only occassionaly will use those jazzier C to D chords where you have the three fingers bunched together on the fifth fret and move it up to the seventh, while playing in Key of G. And then only once in a blue moon…….any more comments on the shift of so many backers to these jazzy-modal chords? Seems DADGAD has made this more popular. I just like my music more straight up personally….to my ear these chords somehow clash with the music at times, rather than complement it, especially when they start switching to strumming on the off-beat here and there.

Iris Nevins

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

What’s a good DADGAD tutor book to purchase for someone new to the guitar and wanting to do backup to ITM?

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

I never used a book for DADGad, just ears. There is a good DADGad chord library on line in pdf from Hans Speek which I use for reference. I’ve seen the book by Sarah McQuaid which has moveable chords in it but I havent’ used it.

That double dropD thing, I’ve a friend who uses it and it is rather jazzy. I think for chords DADGad gets into this rock-n-roll sound of the Bothy Band, which I am having to do on this project I’m working on, but it is not the sound I prefer. (Except for, I do like the 3-finger F-something chord sound on the 3rd fret!)

But as Iris said for playing the melody DADGad is right under your fingers. I never did much of that on guitar but spurred on by Iris’ comment here, (and her playing backs this up 100% :) I tried it this weekend, and yes!

Paul deGrae has a really good book, with tab and diagrams, he is in the Martin Carthy tuning however which I have never got the hang of.

Do/nal Clancy is often in DropD and that’s the sound I like the best with the walking bass notes and clean minimal accompaniment. Sometimes DADGad just sounds too big, too harmonic for The Music.

Lesl

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Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

A little lateral here but I’m a Dobro player and find myself moving between DGDGBD and GBDGBD and DADF#AD and sometimes DADGAD. Lots of voices — too few guitars.
Some players are using Hipshot bridges which operate on lever + cams I think. Neat little gizmo.
Jerry Douglas has started using one.
Peter Woodman guitars on the Isle of Man has done some work using them.
May be workable for your workhorse too!

Aspiring to mediocrity

Re: DADGAD or Dropped D?

Diminished ,flattened fifths and augumented chords have no place in traditional music? Listen to Willie Johnson or Rod Patterson’s work with the Easy Club.Not a cliche to be found.