Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Alternate Tunings for Guitar

With the addition of the Cigar Box Guitar (CBG) to my guitar collection (it's small, only 3 so far). I have been exploring alternate tunings for the CBG. Open tunings on the CBG work well since you can play whole chords using the 3 strings and a barre chord or slide, easily.

Before the CBG I experimented with some alternate tunings for other songs. Is particular I have used Open-D tuning (D-A-D-F#-A-D) to learn and play Taj Mahal's Country Blues #1:

Go check out the full original here: Taj Mahal - Country Blues #1

I then did some experimenting with that tuning to come up with this original work:

With the addition of slide playing and my research into the Blues and Delta Blues I have been introduced to more alternate tunings. The 3-string CBG limits you again with the 3 strings so open tunings become the course of the day.

Here are some really great resources I have found for alternate tunings:
I wish I had found the Alternate Tuning Guide earlier. It covers a lot of the material I work out myself. Here's an example of my fretboard drawings with chord diagrams:
Only way to remember stuff is to
write it down I find.

Here is how I approach a new tuning when I want to learn it:
  • Draw out a fret board.
  • Map out the notes for each fret.
  • If I am trying to learn a specific scale, like D Major on an Open D tuning, I highlight the notes in the scale and where they lay on the fret board. In general I will draw a fret board with just this mapping to make learning it easier.
  • Then I practice the scale on each string up the string and then back. For each string I am interesting in learning. I do these sets for about 5 minutes at a time, each day as I am learning the new tuning.
I hope that helps you figure out how to use alternate tunings yourself.

Now I am off to practice Open-G on the CBG.

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