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Open tuning [what is it]

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Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 10 Oct 03 - 12:33 AM
Murray MacLeod 10 Oct 03 - 04:05 AM
KJ 10 Oct 03 - 04:57 AM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 10 Oct 03 - 06:33 AM
Janice in NJ 10 Oct 03 - 07:10 AM
alanabit 10 Oct 03 - 07:58 AM
Peter T. 10 Oct 03 - 08:59 AM
Amos 10 Oct 03 - 09:03 AM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM
Beverley Barton 10 Oct 03 - 09:20 AM
Mooh 10 Oct 03 - 09:31 AM
Roger the Skiffler 10 Oct 03 - 09:53 AM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 10 Oct 03 - 10:18 AM
s&r 10 Oct 03 - 11:43 AM
HuwG 10 Oct 03 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Chris C. 10 Oct 03 - 02:01 PM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 10 Oct 03 - 04:18 PM
Ebbie 10 Oct 03 - 04:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 10 Oct 03 - 10:28 PM
Bobert 10 Oct 03 - 11:13 PM
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Subject: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 12:33 AM

Waht is "open tuning", and willl it make it easier for me to play guitar?


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 04:05 AM

Open tuning means all the strings are tuned to the notes of a chord either major or minor.Basically, there are three different open tunings, C, D and G. Every other so-called open tuning is a variation of one of these.

If you want to specialise solely in slide (bottleneck guitar) it would be a very good idea to learn these tunings. If you want to become more proficient in other aspects of guitar playing, then you should definitely learn standard tuning first and graduate to open tuning later.

Best of luck jOhn

Murray


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: KJ
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 04:57 AM

Hi jOhn, its bloody difficult if the moans and cries of frustration emanating from Colin are anything to go by!!


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 06:33 AM

Advantages include:

* You can get really "sexy" sounding chords with two fingers.

* You can play lead runs and have loads of open strings to use for backing

* You can develop quite unique sounds which are impossible to get on a standard tuned guitar (that should generate some comment!)

Disadvantages include:

* Unless you choose an open tuning and stick to it you'll never get the depth of understanding of the fret board that someone who sticks with a single tuning (typically standard) does.

Now stand back and wait for the explosion of pro and con arguments!

I love open tunings, Julie is a big fan of standard, we somtimes have an exchange of views!!

Best regards
John Robinson
http://www.JulieEllison.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [what is it]
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 07:10 AM

5-string banjo open tunings, particularly G major but also D major, are pretty standard. There is also a fairly common G "mountain modal" open tuning. It's actually a G chord in which the 3rd is replaced by the 4th (c). Since the 3rd (b or b-flat) determines whether the chord is major or minor, striking the open strings (g-dgcd) produces a chord which can be either.


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: alanabit
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 07:58 AM

In the seventies I heard some really good guitarists like Paul Downes, John James and Richard Cox-Smith produce all sorts of wizardry with open tunings.
For the less musically gifted - ie folks like me - they have the attraction that you can find new runs and riffs which you might not come across in standard tunings. For instance, by simply tuning both "E"s down to "D", you can get a nice drone effect from your first, fifth and sixth string, while you play easy chord shapes and riffs through the middle of the guitar. For me open tunings are a Godsend, because they enable me to get different effects out of a guitar which I could only otherwise achieve with a mixture of a lot more talent and hard work!


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 08:59 AM

As a devotee of open tunings, yes, it will make your life much easier. The problem (as mentioned) is that most everything is in standard tuning, except most slide blues. Two amazing open tuning players are Joni Mitchell (she has many variations) -- she took up open tunings because she had polio as a child, and says that she can't handle standard tuning (or at least when she was starting out, I guess) -- and Bob Dylan. Dylan's Blood on the Tracks (the bootleg versions) are all open tuning. In fact, most of Dylan's famous slow songs work perfectly in an open tuning like D.


yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Amos
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:03 AM

Love 'em and they will make it easier to play guitar by yourself.

A


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM

I know of "Nashville Tuning" - even though I don't play the guitar (yet)!

Is there any recommended "open tuning" that is like Nashville, or should one just move the strings around in the "Nashville" style Tuning?

I ask because I have a weird gagdet - a guitar neck bolted to an enamelled steel hospital bedpan. It sounds very tinny - lacking in bass because of limited volume and inefficient loading to air because of insufficient constriction of air (no soundholes as such) - it's quite open - as you may well it should be for its original purpose!, and I have been advised to try setting it up in nashville...

But I would really prefer an open tuning...

Robin


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Beverley Barton
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:20 AM

don't do it john!!!! emigrate to seville and learn on a proper guitar. an old wise chap once said to me "never play in DADGAD son you'll grow up daft" wise words or what?


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:31 AM

Open tunings work well for pipe tunes or others which suggest the need for a drone of some sort.

I think it was Leo Kottke who first blew my mind with open tunings and I still use open G a lot (or open E on my baritone guitar, BEBEG#B). Also on the baritone I'll use my "F power chord tuning" CFCFCF, though it requires a different set of strings.

I currently have two older gentlemen students with arthritis concerns who have switched to open G to make it easier to play their favourite campfire songs. One and two finger chords abound. Someday I might need to do the same.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 09:53 AM

This is what Catfish Keith has to say on the subject (and slide playing generally):

Bottleneck Slide Guitar
SLIDE GUITAR SET-UP

To play slide, you must first have your guitar set up properly for the best tone and playability. On my albums and live, I play on my 1930 National steel-bodied Style O resonator guitar. These are great sounding old guitars, especially for slide and delta blues. Many blues, jazz, hillbilly, and Hawaiian guitarists played Nationals, and before the electric guitar caught on, were the loudest, shiniest, funkiest guitars available.

You can set up any steel-string acoustic guitar for slide. The nut of the guitar must be slightly higher (around the thickness of a matchbook cover), so the strings are higher over the fretboard than for regular guitar playing. You should still be able to fret the strings as well as slide comfortably without clonking the frets with the slide. A qualified guitar repair person should be able to set you up right.

Note: BE CAREFUL choosing a repair person. Try to get a couple of (or lots of) recommendations from respected players before taking your dear guitar into the shop.

SLIDING STRINGS

For the best slide tone for your guitar, heavier gauged strings are generally better. I use these gauges, in Phosphor Bronze:

Low to High: .056    .045    .035    .026    .019(plain)    .017(plain)

CAUTION: Many acoustic guitars are not made for heavy string tension. Be careful not to put strings on your guitar that are heavier than the recommended gauges.

IMPORTANT: Don't tune your guitar too high! It could pull your guitar apart! Tune no higher than a D or G-tuning, and if you notice the bridge area raising, use lighter gauge strings.

OPEN TUNINGS FOR SLIDE PLAYING

Although there are dozens of variations, I use these two traditional open chord tunings for slide:


Open-D, Vestapol or Louisiana Tuning. Low to High: DADF#AD
Open G, Spanish or Hawaiian Tuning.    Low to High: DGDGBD
FINGERPICKS OR NAKED FINGERS?
I use a large plastic thumbpick on the right hand thumb, and two metal fingerpicks for the index and middle fingers, but for me, especially on the steel guitar, picks help make a sharper, louder tone and help save your fingers.

GET A GOOD SLIDE

There are many kinds of slides to choose from; everybody has a different preference. Some use a metal tube or pipe (Son House used a piece of copper tubing), or a spark-plug socket. These have a brasher, more metallic tone, but have the advantage of being shatterproof (and multi-purpose).

Some of the old-time slide guitarists used a knife. Cedell Davis uses a better knife. Legend has it that Blind Willie Johnson used a straight razor for a slide. Makes for a sharper tone, but sounds mighty dangerous!

My preference is a glass slide, made from a wine bottle. Glass has a weepier, richer sound than metal. You can make your own or buy commercially made slides in the music stores, and remember the thicker the glass, the thicker your tone will be. The glass in many wine bottles (the kind with corks, not screw-on tops) is nice, thick, and smooth, and makes for the best sound.

PUT IT ON YOUR PINKIE!

Putting your slide on your left hand pinkie finger leaves your other left hand fingers free to fret notes and make chords without the slide, and also to damp the strings behind the slide. Some guitarists like Son House and Bonnie Raitt use the slide on the ring or middle finger, but generally, having the slide on your pinkie is the best bet.

SLIDE PLAYGROUND

Unlike fretting the strings, playing with the bottleneck involves setting the slide directly above a fret, with light pressure on the string with the slide when plucked. Try it on the high D (first) string in Open-D tuning, with the slide angled slightly away from the neck, so you are only resting the slide on the high string. Then, pluck the string with your right hand index finger, and slide up the neck slowly from the third fret to the fourth fret. Ahhh!! Vibrate the slide slightly (left & right) along the string at the end of the phrase to give it that vibrato like a gospel singer. That's it!

The difference between playing slide and regular guitar is like the difference between a violin and a ukulele. Think of the slide as a woman's voice. Some of the notes will be bent or "blue" notes that are 1/4 to 1/2 way above the fret. The ability to bend and vibrate these vocal-sounding notes is what makes slide guitar so haunting.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jitterbug Swing
This piece comes from the powerful singing and playing of Mississippi slide guitarist Booker White. His driving rhythms and improvisational approach have always knocked me out! He called his approach to music "Sky Songs" because as he said, "I just pull them out of the sky!"

A crucial technique in "Jitterbug Swing", as in all of my solo blues playing, is right hand thumb damping. This involves using the pad, or "meat" of your thumb to dampen the bass strings while they are being played. The pad of the thumb must be placed near the bridge, over the bass strings to dampen the bass note being struck by the thumb. So, in an Open-D alternating bass pattern:


Instead of a "boom-ding boom-ding boom-ding" sound, with damping, you get a "Boop-DANK Boop-DANK Boop-DANK" sound, with that funky accent on the second beat. So put that slide on your pinkie and have at it!


RtS


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 10:18 AM

a guitar neck bolted to a WHAT ??!?!?!?!?!!?

John Robinson
http://www.JulieEllison.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: s&r
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 11:43 AM

Em7sus4 is a great open tuning....


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: HuwG
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 12:25 PM

Yes, Cittern, Foolestroupe should definitely give us more details, piccies etc. on the Instruments:Tales of the Unexpected thread.


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: GUEST,Chris C.
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 02:01 PM

Most players will agree (maybe??) that open tunings make SOME things easier to play. Some things are practically impossible without some non-standard tuning. Worth exploring for sure.
As far as really defining "open tuning", the term implies tuning to a simple major or minor chord. S&r makes a fair point: standard tuning (Em7sus4, or maybe more exactly Em7add4 or Em7(11)) is just a hair away from being an "open" tuning.
Tunings like DADGAD are more correctly called "alternate tunings": not standard, and not basic maj or min chords.
"Drop" tunings retune the 6th (or 5th & 6th) strings only, leaving the rest in standard.

Chris C. (member, not on my computer)


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 04:18 PM

I think Roger Wilson once did a workshop on approaching standard tuning with the "open miind" that open tunings give you (e.g. when you don't have a chord book to follow you tend to try different shapes and see what happens - you can make some interesting discoveries like this - even in Em7sus4 !)

Best regards
John Robinson
http://www.JulieEllison.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 04:42 PM

Some years back our band became aware of this little (2 1/2 year old) boy (in diapers!) who was an exceptional being. He would spend the whole evening with us, hanging on every sound, leaving only to get an occasional saltine cracker from his mother. A member of the band lent him a piccolo banjo and his beat/rhythm was impeccable. I have always regretted that we didn't put it into an open tuning for him- I know that what discouraged him is that when he strummed it, it didn't sound the way he heard it in his mind. With open tuning the sound would have been pleasing to him.

He is now about 8 years old and taking violin lessons. We'll see.


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 10:28 PM

I can't really describe it any better in words, and I don;t have facilities to make a picture - I thought I may have had a copy of the original one I got when I got it off EBay - YES!!!! but can't find it on the HD.

Was mentioned to the same extent as here in The Ultimate Busking Tool, and maybe another thread at the same time - didn't get much response.

I'm serious about setting it up. I don't mind if it has an unusual tunung setup. The whole thing is a kludge - a real piece of sh** you might say - the neck is held in place with a pair of turnbolts - the who;e thing takes about 3 days to reset the tensions when you fiddle with the tunng as the thing settles down... :-)

I've heard most of the possible jokes in the first 5 mins of its first public appearance...


Robin


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Subject: RE: Open tuning [waht is it]
From: Bobert
Date: 10 Oct 03 - 11:13 PM

Well, being a Delta style player, I carry two guitars with me when I play.

The Martin stayes in G tuning and I can Capo it to the 2nd Fret and play in A. Also can easily tune the 5th string up to an A and play on D modal, which is cool...

Then I tune my reso (steel bodied) to D (Fred McDowell tuning) and then capo up to the 2nd and be in E.

There, that's 5 tunings with very little work, just the agrivation of swappin' guitars which ain't nuthin". I played 5 songs tonight at a joint down in Virginia with my harp player and played one song in each of these tunings and it didn't slow anything down one bit...

Bobert


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