thanks dave. what is the reason for alternite tuning i was reading keith richards book and he recons it was the best thing he learnt about guitars opened up a new world for him. i didnt really understand it. peter
Keith Richards used an open G tuning a lot ie an A chord but two frets lower than in the open position - let me explain ...
Tune the 6th string down from E to D. Tune the 5th string down from A to G. Leave the 4th string at D Leave the 3rd string at G Leave the 2nd string at B Tune the 1st string down from E to D.
Now you should have a very pleasant "G" chord if you just play all of the open strings. Obviously a simple barre with the 1st finger will change that chord as you move up and down the neck. For example a barre at the 5th Fret is a "C" chord. Very simple to play if you're intoxicated .....say no more ! A lot of slide players use this tuning as it's easy to add other fingers into the mix to create some great sounds.
Now try the barre at the 5th fret and adding 2nd finger 2nd string 6th fret and 3rd finger 4th string 7th fret - and you've got an "F" chord. That's the basic "Brown Sugar" riff - Start 12 fret with 2nd and 3rd fingers in place strum - lift off 2nd 3rd fingers leaving barre at 12 fret strum - move barre down to 5th fret strum twice add 2nd & 3rd fingers strum twice take off 2nd & 3rd gingers leaving barre at 5th et voila Brown Sugar (riff then moves 8th fret 5th fret 1st fret 3rd fret 5th fret)
Add a capo at 3rd fret and you've got the Dire Straits Romeo & Juliet riff (starts 5th fret with 2nd & 3rd fingers on but this time add 4th finger 7th fret, then a single barre at 5th fret, then totally open strings (which is really a Bb because of the capo) - experiment - you'll get the hang !
Its great fun - everyone should try it !!
But back to the original post - how one earth would he learn guitar properly tuned to A ! - My daughter is learning on a 3/4 size fender nylon strung (great guitar and only about £60) tuned to standard tuning - no problemo !
A-tuning (on your ¾ guitar) isn’t really an “alternate” tuning --- it keeps the relationship between the strings the same --- but it changes the tension. If you put ordinary strings on a ¾ scale guitar and tune to EADGBE then they will be quite floppy and will tend to buzz. Also, on a steel-strung guitar, you may need to adjust the neck relief using the truss rod.
If you tune your ¾ guitar to ADGCEA then all chord shapes and fingerings are the same as EADGBE but the pitch is shifted by 5 semitones --- exactly as if you placed a capo at the 5th fret on a guitar tuned to EADGBE --- so an E chord shape actually sounds an A chord. This transposition can be very confusing to a beginner, which is why I suggested the D’Addario strings to permit EADGBE tuning.
A Baritone guitar (with a longer neck than standard) is usually tuned to BEADFB. Many Rock/Metal guitarists tune “One Down” (DGCFAD) i.e. all strings one full tone down, or even “Two Down”. As with the A-tuning this retains the relationship between the strings. I tune my Acoustic 12-String "One Down", just to reduce the strain on the top/bridge, and then I put a capo on the second fret.
True Alternate tunings change the relationship between the strings and the positioning of the notes on the fingerboard. This requires a different mindset and many good guitarists claim that it’s conducive to creativity. However, most Alternate tunings grew up out of necessity.
Probably the only alternate tuning that is used by classical guitarists is “Drop D” (DADGBE) which simply permits the playing of a nice bass D note when in the Key of D. I use this quite a lot when playing finger-style. Because it’s only one string (changed by two semitones) it’s very easy to retune and doesn’t require much rethinking.
The well known open tunings (Open E --- EBEG#BE, Open D --- DADF#AD and Open G --- DGDGBD) also grew out of necessity. Slide guitarists realized that all you had to do was place the slide across all six strings and you had a moveable Major chord. It’s great for accompanying but not so good for soloing (although that didn’t worry Elmore James). Open G is often called “Blues G” (the names of these tunings are not consistent) and the top four strings are the same tuning as a Banjo.There is also a common tuning used on a Dobro called “Reso G” (GBDGBD).
“Nashville” or “Angel Hair” tuning is usually EADGBE but the bottom four strings are the octaves out of a twelve-string set. This makes for great duets if you play exactly the same chords and notes as your partner. Unfortunately you will need a dedicated guitar for this as the nut will have to be altered to accomodate the smaller gauges.
As Mark says Keith Richards uses Open G for most of his classic riffs (Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash etc.) but to confuse matters he removes the 6th string completely! Again, you really need to have a dedicated guitar for that.
The commonest “weird” open tuning is DADGAD as popularized by Davy Graham. You have to try this to understand how it changes the sound of songs. John Renbourn uses it almost exclusively.