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Tony Raven
#1 Posted : Thursday, April 07, 2016 9:37:00 PM(UTC)
Tony Raven
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I've gotten lax, but the reason I bought a second dreadnought (lo those many years ago!) was so that I could have one in The Usual Key & another to mess around with.

...so here I sit with a whole BUNCH of guitars, all tuned EADGBE. Time to shake off some dust.

I'm surprised at how many players who consider themselves at least "avid" cannot even discern a simple drop-D. I'm willing to chalk this up to lack of experience... but anyone who hasn't spent a few hours with at least a DADGAD is really missing a lot of potential power.

Wikipedia actually has a good list of tunungs, with audio samples -- which I just now notice are captioned for the hearing-impaired! -- & comments as to some of the players & recordings you can find that use these.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_guitar_tunings

And another site has a nice simple display of almost 100 tunings, which shows how many steps up/down each string must go.

http://www.allguitartools.com/tunings/

All a writer really needs is a blank page and a bad attitude.
 1 user thanked Tony Raven for this useful post.
Axeman69 on 4/8/2016(UTC)
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Axeman69
#2 Posted : Friday, April 08, 2016 10:37:32 AM(UTC)
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Nice 1.
Tony Raven
#3 Posted : Saturday, April 09, 2016 1:37:32 PM(UTC)
Tony Raven
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Lots of "hello!" to those of you who've fetched up here from Google because of our (my?) name-dropping (some old journalists might call it "sourcing") -- if you LOVE "blue-collar" guitars, it'll take you less than 60 seconds to sign up & join in the conversation.
________________

Before I launch into this, I've got to thank some guitarists who do NOT get the credit they deserve, espcially in the United States, who turned me on to the idea of "weird" tunings. Obviously, Leo Kottke is high on the list, but you really need to see some early performance videos to fully appreciate his style. No, I mean some who were a HUGE influence on the UK music that followed on, like

  • Bert Jansch -- as a convert fan of Boiled in Lead, I went digging into the 1970s roots of "Celtic rock" (which was hot in Minneapolis in the mid-1980s but only now gaining much traction elsewhere), so starting with the Big Three: Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, & Pentangle. In the early-CD/not-quite-Internet days, these were REALLY hard to locate, but thanks to a punk-rock vinyl shop (Roadrunner Records) & an acoustic-instrument shop (Homestead Pickin' Parlor, which still holds amazing bluegrass jams in the back room) I managed to find a few.

    The first Shanachie cassette I bought was The Best of Bert Jansch (though watch out for the few half-length versions still lurking; get all 25 tracks!). Jimmy Page (via Al Stewart) swiped Jansch's rendering of "Black Water Side," thus launching a long Led Zeppelin tradition -- to be fair, Page plays it DADGAD while Jansch is in drop-D (capo at G in many videos), but the arrangement & phrasing is REALLY distinctive. Page totally leaves out the lovely lyrics, & the Jansch performance somehow makes it sound like a gut-string lute:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkX7Q2J7k48
    Jansch made less of a U.S. splash than did Pentangle. And though he's largely associated with that electric-folk thing, he ranged easily into jazz, blues, & rock -- for me, "Poison" & "Reynardine" stand out. Jansch died 2011.

  • John Renbourn -- regular collaborator with Jansch, Renbourn was an all-round guitarist, though mostly acoustic, & put out almost two dozen solo albums back in the day when you didn't just boot up your laptop. I can't remember whether it was Shanachie or Green Linnet, but some of his earlier vinyl releases had a "how to play it" sheet; I knoow this was carried over to some of the cassette versions, & survived to a few CDs -- LET ME KNOW if you've encountered any of these. Still available is his Fingerstyle Guitar book that includes three (!!!) CDs... readily available for $25 or less, so worth every penny if you merely listen to it.

    He worked with many other players, but Jansch & Stefan Grossman stand out. Renbourn died 2015.

    I had the privilege of sitting about ten feet from the stage when Renbourn played the Cedar Cultural Center on a bitterly cold night, apparently 09 Feb 1997. Though in many of his older photos he sure looks to be scowling angrily at the camera, he was warm & charming onstage, & for me it all remains a blur as I was totally blown away by the show. In particular, his solo acoustic rendition of the Charlie Mingus tune "Good Bye, Pork Pie Hat" (& a story about it) is about all that remains with any clarity.

  • Richard Thompson -- still alive & well, not even mentioned in the W'pedia tunings article. What's more to be said about a guy who's had a song covered by Bob Dylan? (I like best the albums produced by Mitch Froom.) But have a listen to "How Will I Ever Be Simple Again" (Daring Adventures). My folk-rock friends thought me madder than usual when I whacked my guitar down to CGDGBE in order to learn this -- look it up & pretty much EVERY "authoritative" Interwebs site will tell you just "capo to F," which makes it impossible to use those two huge bass notes to do that sweet little solo on the high frets. And you'd think this info would be easy to find, right? given the proliferation of "everything you need to know about playing guitar" sites, right? Even HIS OWN site skims right past the topic, even on the "Gear & Tunings" page. Only after digging into old interviews online from Guitar Player & Innerviews -- which in parts are word-for-word identical (!!) & in both cases are like 90% about gear -- is there mention of DADGAD & DADGBE... & CGDGBE, so I can finally say HAH! IN YO' FACE! to my critics.

    Regularly using drop-D, Thompson's stuff (acoustic & electric alike) is peppered with whatever tuning works best for the song & his voice -- which, as Leo Kottke once said about himself, is like "geese farts on a muggy day," not very Top Forty but quite listener friendly.

Edited by user Saturday, April 09, 2016 1:39:02 PM(UTC)  | Reason: -


All a writer really needs is a blank page and a bad attitude.
Tony Raven
#4 Posted : Saturday, April 09, 2016 1:38:09 PM(UTC)
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I do encourage anyone with reliable information to become a Wikipedia editor! Notice that many of the attributions alleged in that list don't actually link to a verifying source, so it's left entirely to the knowledge of the random person who added it -- since they're either a guitar wonk or a fan, their objectivity is questionable.

For example, under Open G you'll find mention of a band called Meowtain... not exactly a known act. This let their name be slotted right between Mick Ralphs (Bad Company) & Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam). Therefore, tell all your musician friends:
Quote:
Put one song on Bandcamp using just one guitar with a non-standard tuning, & you have every right to mention yourself on Wikipedia.
Hey, free marketing.

And in case any Meowtain fans fetch up here, I'll say the band ain't terrible. Okay, terms like "lo-fi" & even "grunge" are slung around waaaay too easily. Me, I figure they sound like a properly matured Shaggs with influence from Barrett-era Pink Floyd (too bad The Punk Floyd has already been taken, eh?), with elements of B-52's meet String Driven Thing v.1. Anyhow, here's a plug:
https://meowtain.bandcamp.com/
FWIW, any use of open tunings is a LOT easier to spot in any random Sonic Youth track.
________________

Okay, back to my point, which is an expectation of both accuracy & completeness. For instance, I'm pretty certain that the CFCFAC open-F attributed to Jimmy Page on "When the Levee Breaks" is just a little misleading, because I've been told that (except sometimes onstage) Page ALWAYS used a pedal-steel for slide. As open-G DGDGBD is hardly rare for slack-key or lapsteel, I figure Page just down-tuned to give Plant's voice more headroom to wail. With that strong "thirdless" chord in the lower four strings, it's neither clearly major or minor.

A few days ago, listening to "Tom Petty's Buried Treasure" -- okay, pause for another plug, because while I don't consider myself a fan of Petty's music, he's totally won me over as a DJ, an errant curator of obscure & all-but-lost tracks. If you're a rock-&-roll history maniac, $16/month for SiriusXM radio is worth it just for the recently added all-TPBT channel.
http://www.allmusic.com/album/p...ed-treasure-mw0002614750
http://www.tompetty.com/buriedtreasure

Anyway, from Just Roll Tape, Petty played the solo Steve Stills rough demo for "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" that begins with Stills dropping his guitar's tuning to what's supposed to be EEEEBE -- someday I'll verify this, but it's certainly one of the most blatant retunes ever released on a commercial track (which happens to be a jaw-dropper of a "one voice, one guitar, one take" track).

All a writer really needs is a blank page and a bad attitude.
 1 user thanked Tony Raven for this useful post.
Axeman69 on 4/10/2016(UTC)
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