my guitar tuning evolution

my guitar tuning evolution

I’m primarily a flute-player. But in my youth, I also took to the guitar, becoming the dreaded three-chord wonder with some pentatonic licks. A while back, I decided the guitar could make a nice softer evening instrument, so I began learning to flat pick some tunes in standard tuning. (I’ve also dabbled in open G and open D, but they’re not great for tunes. I’ve never taken to DADGAD…it’s unintuitive to me.)

But I was looking for a more resonant and more ‘linear’/melodic tuning, so I got Paul De Grae’s book, which advocates DADEAE. Very nice tuning, but I find it creates a division—tunes on the high strings, harmony on the low strings, and I’d like a richer sound for the tunes. (It’s probably grand for session playing, but playing guitar alone, I don’t care if the tunes are in the ‘right’ keys.)

So this week, I retuned to CGCGCD, and so far (still early days, of course), it seems to fit the bill. The intervals are nicely balanced, so many tunes fall under the fingers pretty easily, and drones are accessible, It’s also fun playing more in the guitar’s mid-range for a warmer, fuller sound.

Anyone else using this tuning/care to share some tips? Or what’s your preferred tuning?

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Nope, never have felt the need to deviate from EADGBE except occasionally to lower the E to D. I get confused enough switching between ocarina, recorder and NAF!

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

I like Drop D, and I am trying to learn DADGAD at the moment, but struggling with it for some reason.

I know John Doyle plays a lot in CFCGCD. That has a nice tone tune it, but I am unfamiliar with the tuning personally.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

If I remember rightly, London-based guitarist, John Gaughan, is an advocate of CGCGCD - or was when I last spoke to him, about 10 years ago. At the time, he was using it mainly for a backing, using a capo most of the time.

Personally, I’m still trying to get my fingers round standard tuning. If I ever succeed in doing so, I might think about trying another tuning.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Nic Jones used this tuning a fair amount for songs.

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Re: my guitar tuning evolution

I am boring, and get confused easily. Other than dropping the bottom string to D once in a while, I have never deviated from EADGBE.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

[*I am boring, and get confused easily. Other than dropping the bottom string to D once in a while, I have never deviated from EADGBE.*]

Same here with the tuning (although not admitting to being boring, that said, I might be) :)

DAGGAD is great, possibly better suited (that’s a matter of opinion), but I like standard tuning very much. I canny be arsed with re-tuning …

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Theres no need for a capo with Drop D and Standard.I find capoing a bit samey after a while.Its definitely harder without but not impossible.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

I think CGCGCD is Ged Foley’s preferred tuning, though I think he raises it a step by doing most things with a capo on the second fret. I haven’t messed with it in some years (still working on more basic tunings like Drop-D), but my recollection is that it was a nice sounding tuning and fairly versatile.

I think I’ve also heard this tuning referred to as "Orkney tuning".

Jeff

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Yeah, I really like Ged’s playing. (Lovely fiddler, too.) His capo screws into the fingerboard—clever.

Orkney tuning is CGDGCD—basically DADGAD shifted over one string. I don’t think it’s quite as good for flat picking, but I haven’t explored it much.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

If you have played 5 string banjo, open g and orkney tuning are easy as regards the left hand.

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Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Hi,
Steve Baughman is a fine guitarist who regularly uses CGCGCD, or "Orkney tuning", as Jeff mentioned. Check out his website: http://celticguitar.com/index.html
El McMeen uses a slightly different tuning, CGDGAD.
Check out his website: http://elmcmeen.com/for some good videos and transcriptions.
They both play a lot of traditional tunes and O’Carolan pieces.

Gook luck
Tom Greene

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

I understand that the term "Orkney tuning " is a strange Americanism, perpetuated by the Acoustic Guitar magazine, to brand a series of American finger style guitar players who play Scottish and Irish tunes (or "Celtic" as they insist on calling them) very solemnly and stately. Steve Baughman is ok, a bit limited: El McMeen is not to my taste. Some of the players were featured in a Duck Baker album years ago. Duck’s good, a folky and a jazzer.

The tuning is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I switch from standard to dropped D. I find DADGAD to be too samey, it does tend to split the guitar into bass and treble, that wee interval G-A is very twee.

Tony McManus is still the best guitarist I’ve ever seen (and he always struggles to be heard in sessions).

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

Like others commenting, I’ve always stayed more with standard tuning, occasionally using drop D. Part of this stems from background and learning style the other is that standard string sets don’t usually work as well for alterred tunings. Dropping a .052 or .054 E string down to C results in a "floppy" sound (the same occurs with the other strings when removed too far from their stated note). In my area, finding a music store that will sell individual strings to try out is not an option, and I’ve never had the money to buy case sets of individual strings. If I was going to do anything different, it would be to purchase either a baritone or tenor guitar and use those in place of changing the tuning too much.
I would think that using different tunings would also require the guitar to be set up somewhat differently, ie. nut/ bridge adjustments but never having tried this I am not an expert.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

DADGAD and standard are both great, just different…
Most of the DADGAD haters are standard players that can’t wrap their tiny little brains around it
Most standard haters are the worst DADGAD players you’ll ever hear, they think the tuning is fixing their crappy playing.

A good guitarist can use either and it doesn’t really matter which.

Re: my guitar tuning evolution

The worst kind are the convertites who have been told that DADGAD is the thing, have learned four chord shapes and keep moving the capo around whenever there’s a key change (even if it’s just one part of a tune that happens to start on the subdominant).

An interesting thing was when I played a tune and added some bass notes here and there, and the reaction was: "Wow, have you re-tuned your guitar!?" "No, still standard tuning".