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Post new topic Looking for an 8 string tuning for Blues
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Author Topic:  Looking for an 8 string tuning for Blues
Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post  Posted 21 Jul 2020 6:16 pm    
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I've been tuning an 8 string Fender to a G6 tuning lately (E,G,B,D,E,G,B,D) and then modifying it to a G7 tuning (D,G,B,D,F,G,B,D) by raising the 4th string from an E to an F to get the flat 7 and lowering 8th string from E to D to get the 5th in the bass. I've been thinking about moving the flat 7 (F) from the 4th string to the 7th string, so that the top 6 strings are the same intervals as a Dobro High G tuning,(D,f,G,B,D,G,B,D). I have never used a re-entrant string on a non pedal steel before. I would think that trying to strum a 7th chord would sound weird with the attack hitting the higher string first. It also seems like it would be hard to use for single note soloing.I was wondering if anybody has any experience with either of these G7 tunings,the first one with the flat 7 on the 4th string and the second one with the flat 7 on the 7th string,and both of them having a 5th in the bass. Any input would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for a good Blues tuning that I can dig into. Something that is good for playing minor pentatonic or blues scale runs or sequences.

Last edited by Bob Watson on 24 Jul 2020 12:40 am; edited 2 times in total
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 21 Jul 2020 9:49 pm    
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I'm also finding I like the lower sonority of this same basic G6 = E,G,B,D,E,G,B,D tuning for blues on an 8-string. I sometimes raise one or more of the E's to F - usually the bottom E for me to give a G13.

But I'm finding myself more often modding it to G6/E7 by raising the 7th string to G#. This gives G6 = B,D,E,G,B,D on the top 6 strings (which is how I often have a 6-string tuned anyway, either with the G root or sometimes higher to the equivalent A6 or C6), just a plain old E7 on the bottom 5 strings, and E13#9 = E,G#,B,D,E,G,B,D all the way across for the E root. I especially like the fact that it gives the guitar low E as a bottom string root, since I'm a guitar/slide-guitar player and use open E (E,B,E,G#,B,E) with fretting behind the slide a lot.

For me, this approach to steel captures more of what I do on slide than any of the other tunings I've tried. I'm finding a lot of bluesy pockets for both chordal and single-note playing with this setup. I particularly find that G#,B,D diminished on strings 7,6,5 useful.

I use some pretty stout strings for this - lo-hi 60/62, 56, 46, 36, 28, 24w, 18p, 16, maybe a little lighter for a long-scale guitar. My favorite electric steels for blues right now are 22.5 or 23" scales. But this fairly well corresponds to what is frequently used for an 8-string resonator, and that is close to what I have on my McKenna 8-string resonator..

BTW, this is similar but not quite the same as what Mike Neer talks about using C6 as a base here - https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=322564. By tweaking this G6 a bit, you can get the 3rd-on-top Bb6 = F,G,Bb,D,F,G,Bb,D equivalent to the C6 he starts with there but one whole step down. I've played with it a bit, but I really like having the E-rooted E7 at the bottom, as well as the 5 of the G6 on top.
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D Schubert

 

From:
Columbia, MO, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jul 2020 5:26 am    
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I went from bluegrass dobro G, to lo-bass G on lap steel, to G6/G13 on 8 string, as my route to C6/C13 and E13. You might find that your G6 tuning with a flat 7 (F) on the bottom is useful. Keeping the 6th tone in the middle, you'll find a very nice Bb/Gm pocket across the third fret to play pentatonic scales against a G chord.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jul 2020 6:36 am    
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I like Dave M’s E7/G6 idea. A7/C6 with more beef.

Before I bought my psg, I diddled around with E9 tuning on my Stringmaster D8, leaving out the top 2 re-entrants: B-D-E-F#-G#-B-E-G#. A whole new world! And it worked great for blues and rock. If you wanted the low E root for power chording, the high G# could be traded off for it.
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post  Posted 24 Jul 2020 12:35 am    
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I posted the basic G6 tuning as a starting point. I usually put an F in the bass to get the 13th and #9 chord triad. I like the 8 string G6th tuning because you can tune it to the Noel Boggs E13 without having to change strings. I'll have to try some of the other suggestions. I don't know why I didn't think of tuning the lower G to G# for the G/E7 tuning, as I've used the C/A7 tuning before. I'm going to give that a whirl. For some reason I am more comfortable playing Blues with a basic 6 string Dobro tuning, which is why I'm considering trying a re-entrant higher pitched F on the 7th string. I like having the 6th interval in between the triads when I'm playing Jazz or Swing licks, but it seems to get in the way when I'm playing nothing but the Blues. I've heard that some Blues players just string up an 8 string with a 6 string high bass tuning, like a Dobro, but not necessarily in the key of G, I've even considered that. All of your suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2020 11:57 am    
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I play mostly blues on 6 and 7 strings, I don’t have an 8.

I’ve found that I prefer 9th tunings because they don’t include a 6, but still have a minor triad. My tunings are based on G9 GBDFAD (G, G7, G9, Bdim, Dm). I find the 6 chords to be “dead” feeling in major blues keys. I know many other blues players make use of them, so consider that as a personal preference, NOT as advice or expert opinion.

For an 8 string I guess you could just find what string combination works for you using the 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 - the 3 as root gives you diminished chords, the 5 as root gives you minor chords.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 26 Jul 2020 12:59 pm    
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I am a big fan of C13, which I find to be a remarkably versatile tuning. I can play any kind of blues in that tuning--what would you like to hear?

For all the concerns about 6th tunings: without putting a good amount of work on your picking, you're going to struggle to have control over the 6th. But with dedicated practice, you can master it and play things you simply can't in any other tunings.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 27 Jul 2020 3:09 pm    
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Mike Neer wrote:
I am a big fan of C13, which I find to be a remarkably versatile tuning. I can play any kind of blues in that tuning--what would you like to hear?

For all the concerns about 6th tunings: without putting a good amount of work on your picking, you're going to struggle to have control over the 6th. But with dedicated practice, you can master it and play things you simply can't in any other tunings.


Not to belabor the obvious Mike, but you are a MUCH more accomplished player than I will ever (likely) be. I’m at the limits of my ability with my G9 tuning. I fear that a 13th tuning would push me over the edge and into the abyss!
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