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Playing in Different Tunings

Postby awjoe » Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:10 am

Drop D is easy, even live. But more radical tunings need time. I reckon the answer is to have a second or third guitar in the new tuning handy. I mean, I've seen mechanical devices that change tunings at the flick of a switch, but I've never seen a video of someone actually using one live. Have you? But even so, I still think the best approach is multiple guitars. I've never had more than one guitar of any given type. Here's my big chance. :D

I mean how many different tunings does one person need? I reckon at least one, and if it turns out to be more than a party trick, two possibly. At that point, it would be a major feature of your playing - the shifting into different tunings. Shifting guitars on the fly - I've never done it, but it's probably straightforward. Comments?
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Jan 25, 2021 6:40 am

Hipshot detuners are pretty popular with bass players. I like the idea but have never got round to buying any because drop D doesn't really require one and DADGAD would cost as much as a small car.

I think DADGAD requires bit of commitment to carry off, like a bass player moving to double bass it's a new character and, apart from the actual mechanics you really have to explore and develop a new voice if it's going to be worth the effort, otherwise you (not *actual* you) might as well hammer out basic chords in standard and save the tuning issues.

Once the delights of DADGAD or other tunings have been incorporated into the sound, and probably influenced the repertoire into the bargain then the audience will hear and appreciate it, even if they don't know the whys and wherefores of it.

Assuming they care about these things.

You'll be needing another guitar stand, of course.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby BJG145 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:52 am

The SpiderCapo might be worth a look.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/cr ... spidercapo
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby SecretSam » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:12 am

I thought the point of DADGAD was just to make a certain kind of blues tonality easier to play?

I worked through a couple of Led Zeppelin transcriptions that were scored for DADGAD: apart from one note in a four note, one-beat chord in Kashmir, it was all playable in standard tuning, albeit with a fair bit of practice.

Maybe if you write tunes by trying things out on a guitar and then writing down what you like the sound of, you might come up with different note combinations in an alternate tuning.

For me, the trade-off is between getting an easier ride for some tunes in DADGAD versus building an intense understanding of the fretboard through a single-minded focus on standard tuning. It's hard enough swapping between guitar and 5 string bass!
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Murray B » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:36 am

It's fairly easy to drop your guitar into DADGAD, DADF#AD or DGDGBD quickly so I never bother having another guitar permanently set up like this.

If you want to see someone changing tunings as they go along check out Nick Harper.

https://youtu.be/8rBl8xoKwGg

He's rather fabulous at it and his Dad Roy is an all time favourite of mine (also worth a listen for some DADGAD inspiration.

With DADGAD and DGDGBE you've got 3 strings that work the same way as they always did - it helps with starting out to mess about on these whilst playing the rest as an open drone chord whilst you are getting to grips with it, then start working out what else you can do.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:48 am

I dont play very much in other tunings (like, not at all) but I do often play with capos, because I sing as well, and I usually keep different guitars handy for that.

For me, there's already too much going on when on stage to be worried about tuning the instrument (and it looks amateurish). I will however strum the instrument on purpose to check for changes in tuning happened during the set.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Luke W » Mon Jan 25, 2021 11:02 am

As soon as it's more than a string or two once or twice in a set I think multiple guitars is the way to go personally. I get fed up of people tuning quite quickly, even if they're telling a wonderful story about the bloke sat outside a caravan singing to the pigeons that they learnt the song from whilst they do it.

I do get the reasons for it though, and it's probably safe to say it bothers me more than it does the average gig-goer. :lol:
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Murray B » Mon Jan 25, 2021 11:09 am

Fair point with re-tuning on a stage, never used the alt tunings much live, but I think I'd have the spare guitar in the alt tuning for ease of transition. If fact now I'm thinking about it, the one time I have done this the spare electric was in open G and I just swapped guitars.

I really should read the posts more thoroughly - this post is all about doing this live :oops:
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:41 pm

Most players using altered tunings live are of the folky or percussive finger style persuasion retuning is all part of the show and most chat over it (which takes practice), IME it's rare to see them swapping guitars.

WRT tunings generally, most impart a particular character/tonality so you probably wouldn't use the same tuning for more than a couple of songs unless you are the Dobro player in a blues/bluegrass band or something similar where that tonality is a characteristic of the genre.

BJG145 mentioned the Spider Capo, I use one of these (pic below) to simulate DADGAD* on a few tunes. It's just as quick to use as a standard capo and lets you get a DADGAD (or A maj) tonality while in standard tuning. It capo's the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th or 3rd, 4th, & 5th strings, used at the second fret on the bass side it gives you EBEABE (DADGAD a whole step up). Anything you play above the second position is in standard tuning so barre chords and melody lines that don't use open strings remain as normal

Image

https://shubb.com/product/partial-capo-c7/

edit to add:- if you are using an altered tuning on an electric it is often for slide which requires a different setup so a second guitar is more or less a necessity.

* A 'Drop D' version also exists which skips the low E but capo's 1-5
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby zenguitar » Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:45 pm

If you get a chance, see Richard Thompson playing solo. You get a long acoustic set all played on just one guitar. He uses a variety of tunings and is very adept at changing tunings quickly whilst chatting to the audience.

He has one less obvious trick. He has versions of a number of his most loved songs in different tunings. That means he can drop them into the set in several places without have to retune too often.

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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby BigRedX » Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:32 pm

I think it also depends on how sensitive you are to different relative string tensions.

I can't even cope with drop D using the same gauge E string as I would for standard tuning so I have a separate guitar with a suitably heavier "E" string permanently set up for and tuned to drop D. If I used more tunings I would probably have individual guitars all with the correct string sets too accommodate the tunings I wanted.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:37 pm

BigRedX wrote:I think it also depends on how sensitive you are to different relative string tensions.

I can't even cope with drop D using the same gauge E string as I would for standard tuning so I have a separate guitar with a suitably heavier "E" string permanently set up for and tuned to drop D. If I used more tunings I would probably have individual guitars all with the correct string sets too accommodate the tunings I wanted.

I find this becomes more relevant the lighter your strings are. I have a heavy bottom (so to speak) which is generally more stable for detuning but is also good for standard.

The "loose" feeling and sound I find is part of the appeal of the 1st and 2nd strings in DADGAD.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby BigRedX » Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:02 pm

shufflebeat wrote:I find this becomes more relevant the lighter your strings are. I have a heavy bottom (so to speak) which is generally more stable for detuning but is also good for standard.

The "loose" feeling and sound I find is part of the appeal of the 1st and 2nd strings in DADGAD.

Again it's all down to personal preference. I already use a light top heavy bottom set for standard tuning so you can probably appreciate why I find just tuning down to D on the E string will be too floppy for my tastes.

Also when you consider that with this set A is 42 and E is 52, and they are 5 semitones apart it's not surprising that I have opted for a 56 for tuning to D.
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Luke W » Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:27 pm

zenguitar wrote:If you get a chance, see Richard Thompson playing solo. You get a long acoustic set all played on just one guitar. He uses a variety of tunings and is very adept at changing tunings quickly whilst chatting to the audience.

Very true. His playing is unbelievable, well worth a watch for anyone.

There's definitely a skill to it. I've seen it happen a few times where the person doing the "talk and tune" tunes up much more slowly and less successfully as a result, which just leads to more talking and more tuning before a song fights its way into the set. :lol:
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Re: Playing in Different Tunings

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:38 pm

What matters too is how engaging the talking is.
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