Alternate Tunings for the Acoustic Guitar

If you are a Guitar player the first thing you learned to do was tune your Guitar. Every Guitar player whether your choice is the Acoustic Guitar or the Electric Guitar, you know or at least you should know how to tune your Guitar. Starting with the lowest string (top string closest to you) to the highest string (bottom string farthest away from you) the standard tuning for a Guitar is E A D G B E. There are several ways of tuning a Guitar. You can just guess at the top or bottom E and tune the other strings to the E, this will at least have the Guitar in tune with itself. If you are going to play with other instruments it is absolutely imperative that your instrument be in tune with the other instruments. I have a good friend who was a successful Nashville studio session rhythm Guitar player who told me they had a saying in Nashville; "tune it or leave it on the bus!"

It is best to have an electronic tuner to aid in accurately tuning the Guitar, but if you do not have a tuner, you will need a reference point to start with. This can be done with a pitch pipe, or using another instrument that is in tune and tuned to standard A440 such as a piano. Again, it is imperative that your reference instrument is in tune or this will defeat the whole purpose. Once you have your reference tone established I recommend starting with the Low E on the Guitar.

Put your finger on the fifth fret of the sixth string and adjust the fifth string to this pitch. Once the sixth and fifth strings are in properly tuned put your finger on the fifth fret of the fifth string and adjust the fourth string to this pitch. To properly adjust the pitch of the third string put your finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string and match the third string to this tone. For the second string you have to alter the pattern of tuning to the fifth fret of the previous string, now you will put your finger at the fourth fret of the third string to match the second string. Finally, to tune the first string you will go back to the fifth fret of the previous string by putting your finger on the fifth fret of the second string and tuning to that pitch. This is standard E A D G B E tuning for the Guitar, but there are actually many other alternate tunings, a veritable plethora if you will, for the Guitar.

Alternate tunings for the Guitar fall into one of four categories; open tunings, instrumental tunings, regular tunings and special tunings. The open tunings are named for the chord that is sounded when you strum the open strings such as Open D or Open C tuning. The instrumental tunings are named from the tuning of the instrument that it emulates such as Banjo tunings, Mandolin or Dobro tunings. Regular tunings involve tuning all six strings to the same interval such as fourths of fifths. Special tunings are simply miscellaneous tunings that were created and made popular by specific singers or artist and are usually named for the song that utilized the tuning such as the Admiral or the Buzzard. The most popular special tuning used by most Guitar players is the Drop D tuning. It involves tuning the Bottom E down a full step to D. this gives the Guitar a full, rich bottom end sound. This can actually be accomplished with two capos, use one capo to cover all the strings except the E string then use another capo to cover the E string two frets below.

Experiment with alternate tunings, a simple Google search for alternate tunings for the Guitar will return plenty of tunings to keep you busy for years.

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