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Thread: As if standard tuning wasn't hard enough to learn, now I've seen alternate tunings...

  1. #1
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    As if standard tuning wasn't hard enough to learn, now I've seen alternate tunings...

    Well I haven't been playing too long, about 8 months, and most of the music I like is vanilla in tuning, but some stuff is drop d, which I can handle. I like how a full d chord sounds and everything on the low E was just moved up two frets, right? But stuff from say Chevelle is dropped two steps to c# tuning?, or breaking benjamin with some alternate tunings, Staind, step and a half or just a half step, etc...
    My question is how does this affect the scales and patterns, and chords that I'm just learning in standard tuning? Most of these singers that I've mentioned have decent range, what is the preference for alternate tunings like those?

    Share some knowledge with a newbie

    John

  2. #2
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Most of those bands you mentioned still use standard or dropped-d tuning, only then they tune the entire guitar down, leaving all the strings the same in relation to each other.

    For example, the C# tuning could either be dropped D with the entire guitar tuned down a half step (so physically everything is the same as dropped D) or standard tuning down 3 half steps (again, physically everything is played the same as standard; it only sounds lower).

    The reason why they do this is it gives them a 'heavier' sound by having everything sound a little bit lower.


    So physically you don't need to relearn anything. The only potential problem is that, for example, if you tuned down a half step, your E major chord actually sounds as an Eb chord. The problem lies if you are playing with someone who doesn't tune down, or with instruments like piano or horns that can't tune down like a guitar. However, this downtuning is used almost exclusively in bands with guitars and bass, all of which can tune down to match each other, so the problem then isn't an issue.

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    Just because someone tunes differently doesn't mean you have to. If it's an E major shape, but they are playing a half step below (actually playing Eb) you can still play an E...just don't play along with the recording or it will sound a little funny.

    It does make it sound heavier to tune down, but a lot of times it is also in order to match the singer's range. Some keys just don't naturally fit the voice (most female singers hate the key of F) so we transpose.

    Speaking of alternate tunings...legend has it kurt rosenwinkel will tune his guitar to random notes in order to break out of finger patterns...I presume comping would be a b*tch to do entirely by ear...

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    For example, the C# tuning could either be dropped D with the entire guitar tuned down a half step (so physically everything is the same as dropped D) or standard tuning down 3 half steps (again, physically everything is played the same as standard; it only sounds lower).

    Well that's a relief, I thought I would have to learn new chord fingerings for the same stuff! As long as every string is tuned down together correct? But for drop D they're are minor variations for chords, say for a G chord right?

    John

  5. #5
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnKline
    Well that's a relief, I thought I would have to learn new chord fingerings for the same stuff! As long as every string is tuned down together correct? But for drop D they're are minor variations for chords, say for a G chord right?

    John
    Exactly.

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