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There's more to tunings than DADGAD

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Alan Francis 30 Dec 99 - 08:15 AM
Terry Allan Hall 30 Dec 99 - 08:33 AM
Neil Lowe 30 Dec 99 - 09:30 AM
Wesley S 30 Dec 99 - 09:51 AM
V.J.Dougherty 30 Dec 99 - 10:06 AM
Jean-Luc B 30 Dec 99 - 11:34 AM
marcelloblues 30 Dec 99 - 12:49 PM
Easy Rider 30 Dec 99 - 02:03 PM
jabjo 30 Dec 99 - 02:17 PM
JedMarum 30 Dec 99 - 03:10 PM
Peter T. 30 Dec 99 - 03:12 PM
Alan Francis 30 Dec 99 - 03:21 PM
Eric the Viking 30 Dec 99 - 03:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Dec 99 - 07:02 PM
Terry Allan Hall 31 Dec 99 - 03:45 AM
Terry Allan Hall 31 Dec 99 - 03:50 AM
Terry Allan Hall 31 Dec 99 - 10:08 AM
Lady McMoo 31 Dec 99 - 12:29 PM
Jean-Luc B. 31 Dec 99 - 06:55 PM
leeneia 31 Dec 99 - 07:06 PM
leeneia 31 Dec 99 - 07:16 PM
Richard Bridge 31 Dec 99 - 09:54 PM
John of the Hill 01 Jan 00 - 02:13 AM
Jean-Luc B. 01 Jan 00 - 02:59 AM
Sandy from Delaware 01 Jan 00 - 08:52 AM
Murray Macleod (Ex Scotland, now Florida) 01 Jan 00 - 01:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 00 - 05:18 PM
Guy Wolff 01 Jan 00 - 07:20 PM
clansfolk 02 Jan 00 - 05:18 PM
jabjo 02 Jan 00 - 05:35 PM
Guy Wolff 02 Jan 00 - 08:47 PM
clansfolk 16 Jan 00 - 06:19 AM
Eric the Viking 16 Jan 00 - 09:27 AM
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Subject: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Alan Francis
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 08:15 AM

I'm starting this as a parallel to the DADGAD thread that has been running for some while.

I first encountered non-EADGBE tunings fairly early in my guitar-playing career. The first variation was DADGBE, inspired by Gordon Lightfoot, adding a bass run to "Early Morning Rain" sharpened up an otherwise dull accompaniment. Then came DADGBD, from Al Stewart and Tom Paxton.

Then, one dark night in 1967/68, a Canadian singer called Shelley Posen turned up at the London Troubadour playing songs by this lady called Joni Mitchell, and he showed me open D (DADF#AD), open G (DGDGBD) and open C (CGCGCE) and a kaleidoscope of new possibilities opened up. I bought Joni's first album (Song to a Seagull) and spent many happy months working out the accompaniments to her songs from that and subsequent albums.

I know now that bluesmen of old used open tunings, and much music for the parlor guitar used such tunings under strange names like "Vastopol", but it was a revelation to me at the time.

Thirty years on, I still use non-standard tunings, but never DADGAD; for some reason I never felt the need.

One thing I do know, however, is that you need to have more than one guitar with you on gigs if you are not going to spend half your set retuning. I have used this excuse as the rationale for my ever-growing collection of guitars. I think my wife has rumbled me, though.

Songs that benefit from open tunings, IMHO, include:

Joni Mitchell's "Marcie", "Nathan la Franeer", "Morning, Morgantown" (in fact virtually any early JM)

Bob Dylan's "Tom Thumb Blues", Sandy Denny's "Who Knows where the Time Goes", Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne".

...and there are many more. Ringing the changes in your guitar tunings can help to add interest to a set.

Why do most guitarists who use DADGAD use it all the time?

Do any other mudcatter guitarists have any thoughts on other tunings?


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 08:33 AM

I absolutely agree with you as to carrying more than one guitar to gigs, due to the hassle of re-tuning, especially with my 12-strings...at the moment I carry 5 to most gigs:

Guild JF-4 (standard tuned 6-string)

Taylor 655 (standard tuned 12-string)

Giannini Craviola-12 (DGDGBD 12-string)

Gibson J-200 (DADGAD/DADF#AD 6-string)

Guild F-212 (DADDAD 12-string)

And you're right about this being a "legit" reason to add to the "harem" ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 09:30 AM

Geez, Terry.....I would never be able to keep track of which guitar was tuned to what....I'd have to have it all written down somewhere. I can hear it now: picking up the wrong guitar and starting off on a song in the wrong tuning.

Neil (the master of disaster)


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Wesley S
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 09:51 AM

I would never try to talk any one out of buying another guitar { I own 4 myself } but when I saw David Wilcox this year he did it all with only one. And he retunes usually after 1 or 2 songs. Granted - when people were shouting out requests he was letting them know that he was planning to do those songs later in the set when he got around to those tunings. But that's the advantage to being a solo act.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: V.J.Dougherty
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 10:06 AM

Allen I didn't get a chance to see the other dadgad thread that has been running, but I'd like to respond to your question about why those who use dadgad tuning seem to use it extensively. All these different tunings have some unique applications, dadgad, because of its "droning" quality seems ideal for celtic music. I suspect those who seem to use dadgad a lot, are staying in one genre of music. Either that or they have become too acustomed to the chord structure in any one particular tuning. Anyhow thats my bit. Good thread!


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Jean-Luc B
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 11:34 AM

I discovered the DADGAD tuning while I was in Canada in 1981 or so and then I was not convinced until i discovered that the IDEA of either open tunings or "modal" tunings may widen the possibilities of the guitar. You see, i am left handed and I never bothered to reverse the strings so...why not, hey?

Mind you, I shall never give up standard tuning to play rag time for instance, but when it comes to play irish or "celtoid" (breton, berrichon, hibernian, caledonian, galician, old hungarian), I discovered a dandy G tuning: DGDGCD that may be transformed into a crazy C tuning by dropping the bass string even lower!! It needs a bitchy guitar like an old Larrivée and slightly heavier gaged strings.

I agree with Terry that then it also needs a collection of guitars on stage.

Salut


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: marcelloblues
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 12:49 PM

I always change tuning from EADGBE to DADF#AD after the cigarette break. Then, after three or four songs, I turn it to DGDGBD, and after other three or four songs I go back to the EADGBE and keep that till the end of the show. All with just one guitar. Some years ago, when I began performing at pubs, it seemed very difficult to get a satisfying intonation in a very short time, but I took it as the only way to get skiller (?) every time. At present, I can change the tuning while announcing the next song, but the target is to do what I was told John Renbourn does in a really easy way, wich is to change the tuning of just one or a couple of strings while playng the song. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Easy Rider
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 02:03 PM

I've always been reluctant to try open tunings, except for Drop D, because of the nuisance of retuning for just one song. Drop D is easy, without retuning, by capoing only the first five strings (Thank you Shubb) at the second fret.

Since injuring my finger, though, I have tuned my guitars to Open D (DADF#AD) and kept them there. I've got one song, "Payday" almost done, and I'm looking at a few other songs, in Open D. By the time my finger heals all the way (It's doing fine.), I'll have a few songs in Open D, and I'll keep one guitar in that tuning all the time and the other in standard tuning. I like Open D. It's easy to play in and it has a great, ringing sound.

Then there's Open G... Maybe I should buy another guitar... Uh Oh! I feel a GAS attack coming on!


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: jabjo
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 02:17 PM

Alan,

I'd be grateful to know what tuning you use for 'Who knows where the time goes' - I've never managed to come up wih a totally satisfying arrangement myself.

Terry Allan Hall,

Unless you are an _exceptionally_ talented guitarist (and I'm not saying that you aren't) most of your audience would probably think that you're being a bit flash by having 5 guitars. None of the 'greats' in any style you may wish to mention have needed more than 2. In England, at least, you'd be seen as being a 'poser'


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: JedMarum
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 03:10 PM

I frequently drop my low E down to a low D when performing but rarely use other tunings for performance. I do, however play with open tuninsg when playing at home, for myself. I love to experiment and always have some musical pieces I am working with in open tunings ... who knows, one day they may be songs! I escpecially like DADF#AD - I have played some banjo, so this tuning fits some of the chord patterns I know, and there is lots of room up the neck for melody picking against droning open strings. I find DADGAD to be extremely limiting, but it has a marvelous, haunting sound, and I can loose myself in it for extended periods.

It's been years since I've tried the other tunings mentioned; open G (DGDGBD) and open C (CGCGCE) but Ihave played with these. I think they have the same musical qualities of the DADF#AD tuning, so choosing one over the other seems to be a matter of convenience.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 03:12 PM

I echo jabjo, but am greedier, Alan. Do you have the alternative tunings list for the songs you mentioned at the outset? There was a long article on her in Acoustic Guitar some years ago where Joni Mitchell talked about all the wilder tunings she now does; but it is hard to get info on the famous ones (they never get into the sheet music) -- it sounds as if you have done lots of work on these, which would save some of us oodles of time. Can you enlighten us?
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Alan Francis
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 03:21 PM

You're right, Terry, five guitars would be posy, but two or three is acceptable, particularly if you're doing a two to three hour set.

As of now I usually use (solo accoustic gigs):

Martin D18 EADGBE/Dropped D Mugen '78 Open C Washburn D34 Open G / Open D

This keeps the retuning to a minimum.

Who Knows where the Time Goes fits open D - I nicked the arrangement from Dave Cousins of the Strawbs years ago. The folk process has done a little work, but audiences seem to like it, which is the main thing.

Glad I started this! :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 03:41 PM

There are loads of alternative tunings,Joni Mitchell uses over 90 according to a man named Howard Wright, who put them all on the internet a while ago. I once saw Ralph McTell and he had a semi circular rack with about 8 - 10 guitars on, only played 2 or 3 in the whole gig! Saw a guy at Fylde this year he had about 4 National and Dobro guitars with him. There is quite a definative book available called "Alternative guitar tunings" by ? ( I do have the book, it's just not to hand right now! If you want the full title, author iSBN etc I will put it upin the thread. Happy New year all.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Dec 99 - 07:02 PM

This might be the book Eric mentioned:

The complete book of Alternate Tuings,by Mark Henson, published by Accent on Music, 193763 Willamette Dr#252 West Linn, OR 97068 USA ISBN 0-936799-13-7
$16.95

But I got it from the music room

Hundreds of tunings, scales, chord diagrams, list of artists with the tunings used for various tunes and songs.Exhaustive. In fact exhausting.

Every now and then I skim through it, and then decide life is too short, and stick with standard tuning. (Essentially because if I'm playing in sessions which are liable to switch from jigs and reels to bluegrass or rock and roll in all kinds of funny keys, standard tuning at least provides something to hold on to in all the confusion. And people who aren't too sure what's going on can follow my chords. And vice versa.)


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 03:45 AM

Never had anyone complain about how many guitars I use on stage (not that I'd listen, anyway...), but possibly you can understand that I make enough money as a musician to afford quite a few nice guitars...these are only my "work axes"...I have several more at home that I don't take to gigs.

Again, it's a hassle to retune, especially my 12-strings.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 03:50 AM

Sorry, Neil....didn't mean to ignore your query...actually, it's not all that hard to remember which songs go with which guitar...my bassist hates it sometimes, as he can't always tell what chord I'm going to in the odd tunings...keeps him on his toes, tho!...


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 10:08 AM

Further thoughts on multi-guitar gigs (I could've..and should've put these into one message, but had just got in from a gig and was pretty tired, thus wasn't as organized mentally as I should've been...):

On my "oddly tuned axes", they each have special string sets, i.e. for DADGAD, I use mediums for the low D, high A and high D, lights on the other 3 (56,42,32,24,18,14 - low to high)...on the DADDAD guitar I use a set gauged (this is a 12-string, remember) 24/52,16/40,12/28,12/28,16/16,12/12...this would totally DESTROY a 12-string tuned to "normal" pitches!

I find the guitars work better (stay in tune more dependably, play better) if you don't try to "get by" with the same gauge set-up for all tunings.

And, I'm paid to SING, PICK and be ENTERTAINING...not tune/ retune guitars. And I like my job.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 12:29 PM

I still use DADGAD quite a lot (hey don't jump on me...it's only a tuning not a religion!) but also frequently use one for melodic Irish Scottish and Breton playing which I don't think was mentioned yet...EADEAE. Some people have told me Davey Graham was one of the first to use this tuning. I find it gives me more options than DADGAD although I wouldn't agree DADGAD is necessarily limiting...just listen to antthing by Pierre Bensusan!

All the bst for 2000 to everyone!

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Jean-Luc B.
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 06:55 PM

Does anyone know how Martin Carthy tunes his guitar?? It is very odd and I would really like to know because it seems that he reversed the 2 top strings (gagewise, that is)

All the best from the 2000 side of the world


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 07:06 PM


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 07:16 PM

I have been listening to "Celtic" bands a long time, and guitar players should be aware of what they are doing. (The guitar was never used in Irish and Scottish (I & S) music until recently, when American bands made it seem that no band was complete without them.)

The I & S bands tuned the guitars in DADGAB because the notes go well with all the dance music they play in D and G. Then they reduced the guitar to a percussion instrument. I have listened to recording after recording where the guitar simply goes "brang brangety brang" as if it were drum.

(Meanwhile, the Irish took their drum, the bodhran, and played it in such a complex and melodious manner that it became more of a melody instrument than a percussion instrument.)

I think that this kind of playing has its place, but people who love their guitars should realize that the instrument is diminished in the process.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Dec 99 - 09:54 PM

Martin tunes a lot!

Another Mugen! O! bliss! Mine is a 78 too, and I have seen a twin neck 6/12 and know of the whereabouts of a slotted head 12 and have seen a parlour size which has alas had its nut replaced with bone (played by Martin Young).

Does anyone else play DADAAD? I use it for one song (step it out Mary) or AADGBD (General Taylor)?


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: John of the Hill
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 02:13 AM

Jean-Luc, In his early work, Martin Carthy used EADEAE or DADEAE later he started using CGCDGA. Pat Kirtley is another guitarist who used EADEAE quite abit. I think it is an excellent tuning for Appalachian influenced music. Paul de Grae has written a book entitled "Traditional Irish Guitar" that deals primarily with DADEAE and EADEAE tunings. John


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Jean-Luc B.
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 02:59 AM

Thanks a lot John. I am not sure I shall try these tunings (String gauges may not be appropriate!)

I have always been amazed by Martin Carthy's versatility. So much for those who think that alternate tunings limit the possibilities of the guitar.

Another player worth hearing is Arty McGlynn (McGlynn's fancy) and whoever thinks that he is a limited player should go back to scales and arpeggios

Salut


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Sandy from Delaware
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 08:52 AM

I have to throw out John Sherman's name. He's a superb DADGAD guitarist from Ohio. His CD "So Inclined" is a real delight. He can do it all on the guitar--jig, reels, airs. I did get a chance to hear him play live once and found him to be inspiring.

Sandy S.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Murray Macleod (Ex Scotland, now Florida)
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 01:41 PM

While on the subject of DADGAD guitarists, the king, IMHO, is my fellow Scotsman , Tony McManus. Many guitar playes have talent but only a select few have genius. Tony is unquestionably one of the select few.


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 05:18 PM

leeneia says
"I think that this kind of playing has its place, but people who love their guitars should realize that the instrument is diminished in the process."

The job of any instrument in a group is to provide what is needed, and whatb it is best suited to provide.

Played with a bunch of other musicians in an Irish session, a guitar is best seen (I feel) as a percussion instrument, a bodhran with strings. If it tries to take over and show off, it wrecks the balance - just as can happen with bodhran players who show off too much, even when they are brilliant.

And this in no way "diminishes" the instrument. Even in an Irish session there are opportunities to play the guitar in different ways which may be more demanding and bring out different aspects of then intrument. What matters is the music, not the admiring glances at the skill of the musicians. Though it's nice to get them, if you deserve them. (It's even nice to get them when you don't, but have just been playing something three times as fast as it should be played to cover up the odd mistake.)


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 01 Jan 00 - 07:20 PM

Hello all , I like to keep three guitars on stage. I have a 018 martin that is my most used instroment{If I have to take just one, thats the one} <<>>> I have a Kay Profestional that I will put in D tuning and the Diolian National I put in G...How many guitars did Eric Clapton take on his Cradle the Blues tour????? I wish !!!! Oh there is one Martin Carthy song "My Geordie" that I think he did in G tuning but with a dropped C note on the sixth string.Also "Shepard Oh Shepard" must have been done in G tunning { I think???}


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: clansfolk
Date: 02 Jan 00 - 05:18 PM

Martin Carthy tunes all his guitars by twiddling those funny things on the head stock.

What about the shubbs partial capo - save taking three guitars to a gig, gives you two alternative tunings plus the ability to play "normal" chords along with partial and open tuning leads/chords ALL at the same time - I like 'em! Also handy down at the local guitar shop - no more embarrassing "sorry I snapped a string" whilst re tuning their stock.

Take care, Pete


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: jabjo
Date: 02 Jan 00 - 05:35 PM

CDGFEA

wonderful...


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 02 Jan 00 - 08:47 PM

Clansfolk I did a vertion of"My Dearest Dear"In G tuning at the 7th fret with a banjo capo leaving the botum d note to drone<><><><> It sounded great...


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: clansfolk
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 06:19 AM

Guy,

Will have a mess with that - anybody out there offer a good source for Shubb partial capos in the states (other than Shubb!!) with a good discount and that will ship to the UK? I would like to buy some more to sell around the clubs and festivals - as no one seems to stock them in the UK and I'm always being asked where they can be bought.

Take care

Pete


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Subject: RE: BS: There's more to tunings than DADGAD
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 09:27 AM

You can get Schubb capo's from the Music room in Cleckheaton and Oxford, and Hobgoblin in Bradford and a place in York (can't remember the name at the mo'). I use the standard Schubb, but when I want to pretend I've de tuned in only place it across the bottom top 5 strings. on fret 2, but I have experimented and put it over the bottom 5 at different frets to give an open high e, you can use it any how you like really. There are 3 or more types. Banjo/mandolin. Curved radius fingerboard, flat fingerboard and 12 string that I know of. Don't know if it's the same as"partial capo" but does the trick. Cheers. Eric


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