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Tunings FAQ


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#1 ConfuciousDragon

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Posted 24 July 2004 - 12:19 AM

There seems to be a lot of people asking about tunings recently. So, here's a little guide for tunings. Just a quick note is that all tunings when spelled out like EADGBE go from the 6th string (or lowest string) to the 1st string (or highest string). Also, for the assistance in explanation of how to tune without a tuner, I give you the instructions on how to tune out of Standard E or EADGBE. And another thing, I will use flats and not sharps, as most tuners are set up to read a note as flat and not sharp. I also expect you to know the numbers of the strings, and which ones they are, as it is easier to refer to the number when talking of tunings, instead of the name, because your low E string could also be your F, Eb, D, Db, C, B... well... you get the picture.

Also, before we begin, I'd like to cover why there are so many tunings, why don't we just stick to one. I mean, what is so special about making your guitar dropped lower or, being able to hit one extra fret higher by giving it some extra tension. Well, it really has to do with the individual. Some do it, because they honestly want a song to sound in that key, and their pitch-perfect ear (if you don't know what it is, I'm not going to explain it, this is going to take a lot of time already) can tell that the vocals aren't perfectly in sync with their guitar, or they just really want to sound lower or higher. Or maybe, it's not any of that. For there are the other sort of tunings like open tunings, where people play it as if it's slide guitar, or they're really into blues, I'm not as big of a blues fan so I can't give you quite as much of history on that, but, you can ask DADFAD. He knows, I'm sure.

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STANDARD TUNINGS
Note: for standard tunings, in order to tune the guitar to itself, place your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string, and play the 5th string, tune the guitar until both strings are in unison, then play the 5th fret on the 5th string with the 4th string and tune until the strings are in unison, then move up to the 4th string and play the 5th fret with the 3rd string and tune until they are in unison, then play the 4th fret on the 3rd string with the 2nd string, and tune until they are in unison, and then play the 5th fret on the 2nd string with the 1st string, and... you guessed it... tune until they are in unison.


Standard E
Most guitars use Standard E, usually just shortened to Standard, it's notes are E A D G B E. If you can't get this far, you shouldn't even consider changing your tuning.

Standard Eb
Standard Eb is another common tuning. Esspecially for those guitarists that use high gauge strings, such as 11's or 12's or 13's. In order to achieve this tuning, all you have to do, is make every string flat, or put it down one semi-tone. Tuning notes are Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb. The way to tune this without a chromatic tuner (though again, I strongly reccommend it, esspecially if you want to tune to tunings like this or lower, or if you get into open tunings) is to tune it like you would if you were tuning your guitar to itself in standard, but instead of using the 5th fret (or in the case of tuning the B string, the 4th fret) you use the 6th fret (5th fret for the B string).

Standard D
Standard D is achieved by taking every string down 2 semi-tones, or a whole step. This is an abnormal tunings, as are any Standard tunings below Standard Eb, or above standard E. The notes for this tuning are D G C F A D. In order to achieve this tuning without a chromatic tuner (but for god's sake, you need one for this) tune by using the 7th fret instead of 5th fret, and the 6th fret instead of the 4th fret.

Standard F
Standard F is a very abstract tuning, I've only heard of it, and have never seen or heard it used. In order to tune to this, it's reccommended you use a lighter gauge string than 9, for the added tension risks damage to your neck (though it's doubted that it will happen if you're only using 9's. It's reccommended to use 8's for this tuning, though. In order to tune to this tuning, you go the opposite way the others have, for they have been tuning down, this needs to be tuned up. Tuning notes are F Bb Eb Ab C F. In order to tune this, take off a fret on the guide. So, use the 4th fret instead of the 5th fret, and the 3rd fret instead of the 4th fret.

There are other Standard Tunings, but, if you read all this, I think you can use your own judgement to figure them out if neccesary, however they are very unusual, and almost never used (I've never seen them used).

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DROP TUNINGS
Note: The purpose of a drop tuning is to allow a person to do power chords by just using a bar with their finger. The goal isn't so much to make it that much easier to do a power chord, but, to make it so that you can change power chords faster, for I don't care how fast you can slide your hand, it'll still go faster if you don't use that shape. To tune a Drop tuning, there are 2 ways to do it, the first way, which people usually will tell you to do, is to play the 6th and 4th (or E and D) strings together, until the 6th string is an octave below the 4th string. The way I usually do it, and is also a good way, is to use the 7th fret on the 6th string and tune it until it is in unison with the 5th string (much like people will tell you to do, in order to tune the guitar to itself).

Drop D
The second most common tuning (or so it seems) is Drop D. In this tuning the E string is dropped 2 semi-tones (or frets) so that power chords can be done in a bar form (or just with one finger put over the strings, for those that haven't gotten to barre chords yet). The notes for this are DADGBE. In order to tune this without a chromatic tuner (though I strongly reccommend getting one), there are 2 ways to do it, the first way, which people usually will tell you to do, is to play the 6th and 4th (or E and D) strings together, until the 6th string is an octave below the 4th string. The way I usually do it, and is also a good way, is to use the 7th fret on the 6th string and tune it until it is in unison with the A string (much like people will tell you to do, in order to tune the guitar to itself). Yeah, I repeated myself, but... hey... w/e.

Drop Db
This is an uncommon tuning, but I saw it recently when attempting to play a Three Days Grace song, so I will cover it. Notes are Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb. In order to get this tuning, use Standard Eb, and then follow the instructions for putting it in drop. I don't want to dwell too much on this, chances are you'll never use it.

Drop C
This tuning is common for metal songs, and it's also an indicator that you're a system of a down fan or godsmack fan (I'm both biggrin.gif ). The notes of this tuning are C G C F A D. In order to tune to this, use Standard D, but tune your 6th string 2 semi-tones down, or, in other words, use Standard D, and then follow the instructions to get your guitar into a Drop tuning.

Drop B
Welcome to nu-metal country. This is the prime choice of tuning for bands like Slipknot (not that I don't love their stuff, for they are a great band). If you're going to tune to this, I strongly reccommend upping your string gauges to 12's or 13's. Your 6th string should be at a gauge somewhere around .057. Back to the tuning at hand... This is the second lowest drop that is somewhat commonly used the other is Drop A, but, we'll get into that when I talk about 7-string tunings. Anywho... Notes for Drop B: B Gb B E Ab Db. In order to tune your guitar to this... GET A CHROMATIC TUNER YOU LAZY SOB! Sorry... I just really don't want to write this out... The Standard tuning for this would be Db, so, out of standard E (that's right, think back to the top of the page here) you'd have to use the 8th fret instead of the 5th, and the 7th fret instead of the 4th, then, use the formula for drop tunings and throw it into drop. I guess that wasn't so bad. But seriously, if you're going to do this sort of tuning. Get a chromatic tuner. It's a neccessity(sp), and will save you grief anyways.

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OPEN TUNINGS
Note: Open tunings have no specific way to tune them without a chromatic tuner, so... you know what... I REALLY don't want to try, if you have that much of a problem, go ahead and drop someone a line and they'll help you out into tuning your guitar into it. But, I've already spent an hour, and I don't want to spend 5 doing this. The purpose of open tunings, as far as I know is to allow you to make a chord in just a solid barre across all the strings. I'm not an open tuning user, I'm just here to explain how to get it, so, don't ask me much more than this about why open tunings are there. Though, they are neccessary for slide guitar type things. Though the first few have a few things on string gauges, my computer's not wanting to work with me, and so, I'm just going to put in the notes for a lot of these. Also, many of these tunings aren't called open, but they're meant to be played open, so I include them in the set.

Open E (major)
Open E is well, the first on the list, I reccommend using 8's on this tuning, as it will force you to uptune your strings. You can mix and match as well, though. Tuning notes: E B E Ab B E.

Open E minor
Once again, this will force you to uptune your 5th and 4th strings, so, I reccommend lightening the string gauge to 8 or 9. Tuning notes: E B E G B E.

E 7/9
This is usually used on a lute. And honestly, I know NOTHING about this tuning, never used it, and I don't know why you'd use it, seems kind of like a jazz thing... anyways... tuning notes: E A D Gb B E

Open D (major)
Tuning Notes: D A D Gb A D

Open D minor
Tuning Notes: D A D F A D (remind you of a certain moderator? wink.gif )

D suspended
Tuning Notes: D A D G A D

D 6th
Tuning Notes: D A D Gb B D

D 6/9
This is almost Standard tuning, btw, so I wouldn't go with any heavy gauges here. Tuning notes: D A D Gb B E

D7
Tuning notes: D A D A C D

D7 sus4
Notes: D G C G C D

Open C (major)
Definitely get out a heavy gauge for this one. 11's or 12's should do it. But, still keep lighter top strings. Notes: C G C G C E

C 6th
Notes: C A C G C E

C maj7
Notes: C G E G B E

C maj7/9
notes: C G D G B E

C maj 7/11
notes: C F C G B E

Cryil C
Why it's called that is beyond me. Notes: C G E G C E

C 6/9
Notes: C G D A E G

Open A (major)
Notes: E A E A Db E

Open A minor
Notes: E A E A C E

Open G (major)
Notes: D G D G B D

Open G minor
Notes: D G D G Bb D

G 6th
Notes: D G D G B E

G Wahine
Wahine? anywho... Notes: D G D F# B D

G add11
Notes: D G D G B C

Open F minor
Notes: C F C F Ab F

Open F (major)
Notes: C F C F A F

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THE "I MEAN WEIRD" TUNINGS
These are the tunings that no one really ever uses. And even some guitar elite have never heard of, hell, I didn't even know they existed til I started doing this and discovered them. Well, here they are.

The Drone Tunings
There are 12 drone tunings. Drone Tunings are just the same note repeated over 6 times. so E E E E E E or A A A A A A. They can be in different octaves, but, that's how it works.

C 6th (Mauna Loa)
The Mauna Loa tuning is really just a C major chord add 6. Notes are C G C G A E

Double Drop D
This goes off drop D, but, both the 6th and 1st strings are dropped to D. So... D A D G B D. Purpose? Hell if I know.

High Strung
This is really only a 5-note tuning, but, it can be transferred over to a 6-note tuning by dropping another E in there as the bottom note. Notes: (E) A B D E G

E Power Chord
One of the weirdest tunings I have witnessed, but... here it is. completely non-minor and non-major. The full out version of the Drop Chord. Notes: E B E B E B

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7-STRING TUNINGS
Really, for those of you that have 7-strings, for open tunings, just copy another string in there as the bottom string. I'm only going to deal with the 2 common 7-string tunings.

Standard E/B
This is just a simple Standard tuning, but starts on B instead of E. Notes: B E A D G B E.

Drop A
This is for the serious low-tuner. This is one hard core tuning. So, here you are. Drop the 7th string to an A and your good to go: A E A D G B E.

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12-STRING TUNINGS
You must think I'm nuts. This has taken 2 hours and a half already. I'm not about to do the infinite amount of 12-string tunings. 12-string tunings are just variations of those mentioned above anyways. Do your own research on these, if you're really into it.














P.S. I'd also greatly appreciate it if a moderator could sticky this please.

Edited by ConfuciousDragon, 24 July 2004 - 10:30 AM.

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#2 grzegorz_panek

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Posted 24 July 2004 - 01:38 AM

Great idea, great job, great post!

I'm sure John or Logan will pin that as soon as they see it. smile.gif
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#3 B.B. Hudson

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Posted 24 July 2004 - 04:15 AM

Note, to quickly change from standard tuning to Open-G, tune the 6th string to an octave below the 4th string, and the 5th string to an octave below the 3rd string. Then tune the top string to an octave above the 4th string. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings stay the same.

#4 wannalearn01

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Posted 24 July 2004 - 11:06 AM

Now that is worthy of cookie... smile.gif

Very good post, a lot of good info...and hopefuly we can stickey this so I can link to it everytime anewbie asks what drop D is...it'll blow their mind.

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#5 ConfuciousDragon

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Posted 25 July 2004 - 11:03 AM

lol, "what's drop D?" "just go here, he talks all about it" "um... I can't find Drop D in all of these" "just keep looking"

but yeah... bump.
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#6 mrbreeze

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Posted 25 July 2004 - 11:12 AM

nice work man. biggrin.gif
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#7 ConfuciousDragon

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 06:09 PM

yet another bump... Come on! sticky this!
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#8 shoe1

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 06:13 PM

Great job man, thanks for doing this. A Mod should definitely sticky this.

-Shoe

#9 gannesh_cyrian

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 06:16 PM

cool cool cool

Thanks for taking the time to do that!! smile.gif

#10 guitarfreak111

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 06:22 PM

Yes, that deserves a pat on the back. cool.gif

#11 [email protected]

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 07:04 PM

Pin this topic!

#12 ConfuciousDragon

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Posted 27 July 2004 - 09:58 PM

arg... look, if your not gonna pin it, at least tell me that your not, and why.

yet another bump...
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#13 dadfad

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 03:22 AM

I'm not gonna pin it because I had a nasty experience with a dragon as a child and it scarred me for life, and also because I hate all that friggin' "wisdom" inside of those crappy fortune cookies. Hahahahah!!!! j/k tongue.gif I hadn't seen it......

Excellent work. I'm going to pin this. For now I'll pin it in this forum. Ii should be added to the Lessons Forum's permanant lessons, but I know sometimes things over there have a tendency to get stuck in limbo for awhile (Limbo lower now, how low can you go....). Anyway, great post. There's only on thing, very minor, that I would change. You called Open-D major tuning as DADGbAD. That is correct, however, I would use the enharmonic note F# instead of the Gb to call it. That's the one most often used in describing it and people who use the tuning frequently actually refer to it by the name Dadfad Tuning (not to be confused with the D-minor tuning DADFAD) (My user-name refers to either/both/neither I guess!). Anyway, I'm going to pin this. Anyone who wants to add things....how to reach the tunings and re-tune by touch; how to finger different chords or substitutions in those tunings, etc...should feel free (just be sure you're correct, for posterity's sake! laugh.gif ). Anyway, great post, C-D.

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#14 KaZu

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 08:21 AM

Well done Confusious!

#15 Dad2000

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 08:30 AM

a quality post.

#16 marqui

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 08:43 AM

yes, this is good. very helpful and informative. thank you

#17 ConfuciousDragon

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 10:04 AM

w00t, finally got pinned.

Yes, I know it should be DADF#AD, but, as I said in the top portion, most chromatic tuners say notes as flat instead of sharp, so, I was making it easier for the new people that don't know how to transfer sharps and flats. But yes, in it's key signature, D major is F# and C#, so... I understand.
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#18 krypton57

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 11:05 AM

What an excellent topic.
I use open G all the time on my 12-string acoustic - it's permanently tuned to open G.
I've not used many of the others on a regular basis though.
Good post.
Good info.

#19 randomorwhat

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 01:33 AM

Great topic. I have some messed up tunings...and a lot of broken strings to testify laugh.gif
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#20 axo151

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 12:49 PM

just a note. D suspended tuning is often referred to as Bensusan tuning. And then there is this tuning i've seen stephen stills use on Singin' Call thats EBEEBE, or it can be done with DADDAD. I have no idea what it's name is.



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