October 30, 2023
Some of the great guitar-playing artists were self-taught – which means a great many of them use weird tunings. That’s probably no coincidence – using alternate tunings is a great way to come up with a unique sound. So, let’s look at a few of the most common uncommon tunings you could try with your guitar – or your bass.
Open D creates a rich and resonant sound by tuning the strings to form a D major chord when strumming openly. The tuning pattern for open D is as follows (lowest pitch string first):
Open D is widely used in genres like folk, blues, slide guitar, and fingerstyle playing. Famous artists like Keith Richards and blues legend Robert Johnson have employed this tuning to create iconic songs and distinctive sounds.
Songs in open D include "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones, "Dust My Broom" by Elmore James, and "She Talks to Angels" by The Black Crowes, and this tuning is a staple in slide playing.
Drop D involves dropping the low E string down one whole step to D while keeping the other strings in standard tuning – so, the tuning pattern for drop D is:
Drop D is used a tone in metal and other heavy rock, letting guitarists play heavy riffs and power chords with ease. Famous songs in drop D include "Everlong" by Foo Fighters, "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine, and "Slither" by Velvet Revolver.
DADGAD is an open tuning with a unique and captivating sound popular among folk, Celtic, and fingerstyle guitarists. The tuning pattern for DADGAD is:
The harmonic and drone-like qualities of DADGAD lend themselves well to creating mesmerizing atmospheres and embellishments. It allows players to produce lush chords and interesting voicings that are different from standard tuning, adding a new dimension to their compositions.
You’ll recognize DADGAD tuning in songs like "Black Mountain Side" by Led Zeppelin, "She Moved Through the Fair" (traditional Irish folk song), and "The Blarney Pilgrim" (traditional Irish jig). Guitarists like Jimmy Page and Pierre Bensusan have also showcased the versatility and beauty of DADGAD tuning in their music.
Drop C tuning is a heavy and aggressive tuning that's widely used in various metal and hard rock genres. In Drop C, the lowest string is tuned down two whole steps to C, allowing for powerful, low-end riffs and intense chugging. Here’s the pattern for Drop C:
Drop C is favored by many metal bands for its ability to deliver bone-crushing tones and dark, aggressive soundscapes. It allows for easy power chords and menacing progressions, making it a popular choice for modern metal and hardcore music. Bassists like Fieldy from Korn and Ryan Martinie of Mudvayne are known for extensive use of drop C
Check out "Chop Suey!" by System of a Down, "The Light That Blinds" by Shadows Fall, and "My Curse" by Killswitch Engage for examples.
Half-step down tuning involves lowering each string's pitch by a half step. The tuning pattern for half-step down tuning is pretty straightforward:
This tuning offers a unique and mellower tonality compared to standard tuning, and it’s widely embraced in various genres like rock, grunge, metal, and alternative. Acts like Hendrix, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam have utilized this tuning to craft distinctive and emotive sounds. In Eb standard, the slight detuning of each string adds depth and complexity to chords, enhancing the overall richness of the music.
Listen to Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”, Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses to hear Eb standard in action.
These are just the beginning of potential alternate tunings, and while some tunings may not work for anything, there’s no reason you can’t experiment. This is indeed one of the coolest things about the guitar – there’s a world of creativity you can tap into just by re-tuning it – something you can’t (realistically) do on, say, a piano. Have fun with it!
November 06, 2023
One of the most misunderstood things in mixing is bass – whether it’s getting the low end right in general, letting the bass guitar cut through without overpowering everything else, or just making the bass interesting and cool. It can be tricky to get it right, but there are plenty of tried-and-true tricks for getting there quickly. Let’s go over a few of those.
October 23, 2023
October 06, 2023
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