special tunings

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Post on 28-Dec-2016




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    The special tuning section is a collectionof miscellaneous tunings, most of which werecreated and/or popularized in recent years byvarious singers and/or songwriters. The bulk ofthe tunings are named after a song in which theyare used. The cited songs are the first use ofwhich Im aware, but undoubtedly many of thesetunings have been used previously by others. Iwould be glad to hear from anyone with informa-tion about the origin of tunings, so that I can bemore accurate in future editions.


  • 70 Special Tunings


    Michael Hedge's song Admiral Rickover'sDream is played in this variant of the Open Gtuning, in which strings 1 and 6 are tuned down twosteps.

  • 71Admiral Tuning

  • 72 Special Tunings


    The Buzzard tuning is from Will Ackerman'ssong of the same name. The open strings sound aC7sus4 chord, and the multiple C and F stringsallow many useful fingering variations.

  • 73Buzzard Tuning

  • 74 Special Tunings

    TheDrop DTuning

    Artists as diverse as the Beatles, Pete Seeger,John Denver, James Taylor, Happy Traum, andJorma Kaukonen have all written and/or recordedtunes in the Drop D tuning. It is undeniably themost used alternate tuning, probably because it isso easy to get to (only the low E string needs to beretuned) and because most chords and scales re-main unchanged from the familiar standard tuning.Since the only difference lies in the sixth string, thechord chart consists mainly of full six string chords,which should be liberally interspersed with famil-iar chords from the standard tuning - simply don'tstrum or pluck the lowest string.

  • 75Drop D Tuning

  • 76 Special Tunings


    Michael Hedges tunes to an A minor 7 chordwith a suspended 4th (ACGD) in Face Yourself,though it sounds more grounded in C (an incom-plete C6add9?) or in G (G with a 4th and 2cnd).Whatever the key, it feels nice.

  • 77Face Tuning

  • 78 Special Tunings

    TheFour and TwentyTuning

    (along with many other variants) while a Bminor 7 could be fingered

    The general rule is that whenever a given fret isplayed on (say) a D string, that same fret can beplayed on any other D string.

    This tuning was popularized by Crosby,Stills, Nash and Young in their songs Four andTwenty and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (which wastransposed up one whole step). Strumming theopen strings of the Four and Twenty tuning soundsa chord that is harmonically ambiguous - neithermajor nor minor, and perhaps this accounts forsome of the charm of these songs. The doubledstring adds an interesting flavor to finger pickedpassages, since the same tones repeat, though withslight timbral differences due to string thicknessand weight.

    Since the tuning has multiple D's and A's,there tend to be numerous variants possible on anygiven chord form. For instance, an open position Dminor 7 can be played

  • 79Four and Twenty Tuning

  • 80 Special Tunings

    TheHot TypeTuning

    This unique tuning is from Michael Hedgessong of the same name. String 6 is lowered a fullfifth, while string 5 is raised two steps, creating aleap of more than an octave between the two bassstrings. In compensation, there are small intervalsbetween the second, third, and fourth strings. Thusthe Hot Type tuning has elements of a compressedtuning and elements of a wide tuning. Make surethat you use a heavy guage 6th string or the low Awill sound flabby.

  • 81Hot Type Tuning

  • 82 Special Tunings


    In his song Layover, Michael Hedges tunesstrings 1-5 to an Amin7 chord. The sixth string, aD, officially makes it a suspended fourth chord, butit doesn't sound that way. The notes of the tuningare the same as the notes of the Pentatonic tuning,but they're all scrambled up.

  • 83Layover Tuning

  • 84 Special Tunings

    TheMagic FarmerTuning

    Michael Hedge's Magic Farmer tuning isclosely related to his Buzzard tuning; strings 3-6are identical, while the first two strings are loweredone step. The tunings play similarly, and many ofthe fingerings on the two chord charts can beinterchanged.

  • 85Magic Farmer Tuning

  • 86 Special Tunings


    This tuning is taken from John Renbourn'ssong of the same name, in which the strings aretuned to a D suspended second chord that sounds anice neutral tonality, neither major nor minor,neither soft nor harsh. The Pelican tuning is inti-mately related to the Open D minor tuning(DADFAD) since five of the strings are tunedidentically while the last string is only one half stepaway. Consequently, chords from the D minorchord chart can often be used when playing in thePelican tuning, though fingers on the third stringneed to be moved up the fretboard one position. Forinstance, open D minor chords are quite similar...

  • 87Pelican Tuning

  • 88 Special Tunings


    Will Ackerman's tuning from the song Pro-cessional is interesting because the highest stringsare only one step apart, allowing some very tightlyvoiced chords. The tuning is closest to Ackerman'sown Triqueen tuning, with strings 1 and 3 differingby only one step.

  • 89Processional Tuning

  • 90 Special Tunings

    TheSlow MotionTuning

    Any tuning with multiple octaves of a singlenote allows chord variations by moving fingersamong the octaves. Will Ackerman's Slow Motiontuning is no exception. The open position D minorchord, for instance, can be varied in sveral ways...

    One quirk of the Slow Motion tuning is theseventh chord form (the second D7 on the chart),which fingers exactly like a 7th chord in Standardtuning. The Fmin7 is also fingered exactly like a Bbmajor in Standard tuning. Though the fingers re-main the same, the sounds are quite different.

  • 91Slow Motion Tuning

  • 92 Special Tunings


    In the Spirit tuning, the strings are tuned to anAmaj7 chord. The tuning can be quite upliftingdespite Will Ackerman's song Impending Death ofthe Virgin Spirit for which it is named.

  • 93Spirit Tuning

  • 94 Special Tunings


    Taken from John Renbourn's song of the samename, the Tarboulton tuning is one of the moreinteresting of the modern tunings because of itscombination of intervals - a major seventh, a majorsecond, two perfect fourths, and a fifth. The tuningplays easily in both F and A# though the wealth ofbar chords ensures that any key is feasible.

    There are three pairs of strings, two C's, twoF's and two A#'s. Whenever a given string is playedat any fret, its mate can also be played at the samefret. Accordingly, alternate chord forms substitutestrings 4 and 6, 1 and 3, and/or 2 and 5. Forexample, a few alternative open A# major chords

  • 95Tarboulton Tuning

  • 96 Special Tunings


    The Doobie Brothers used this tuning in theirsong Toulouse Street . Although the chord formsare quite different from Standard, it's easy to learnthe bar chords (and to remember them at the rightfrets) because the low E string is unchanged.

  • 97Toulouse Tuning

  • 98 Special Tunings


    Triqueen is a shortening of Pink Chiffon Tri-cycle Queen, another of Will Ackerman's songs inan alternate tuning. Triqueen plays smoothly, andthere are many fun chord forms lurking in the chordchart that are not shown explicitely. For instance,the open position A7th chord can be moved up twofrets to a B7th chord in several ways...

    Which B7 do you think sounds best? Why notplay a different one each time it rolls around?

  • 99Triqueen Tuning