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Author Topic:  How Many Tunings?
Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 14 Sep 2020 9:54 pm    
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Yeah, I know... Hundreds or more. But here’s my question:

How many tunings do most of you have on the go at any one time?
Do you just stick to single tuning for all your work?
Do you have one tuning for 6 string and another for 8?
Do you do the Lindley thing and keep a few lap steels in the same tuning sequence but in different keys?
Do you alternate between the same two or three tunings?
Do you use lots of different tunings?

For the last year I’ve been sticking to Just one tuning, G9 GBDFAD (6) and gGBDFAD (7), but today I’ve been fooling around with an open C (CGCGCE) that’s a lot of fun on the 6 string. Not finding a variation I like on the 7 strings.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 6:43 am    
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A6 is my main tuning with E13 on a double neck. I have a couple of triples and a quad so also use a different E13 and a D9 but don't use more than 2 necks very often.

Although I generally have A6 on my 6 stringers, I've been involved in a couple of more rock oriented projects lately and now have a six stringer set up with G6. Low to hight it's DGDGBE - nice big fat 5 chord on the bottom 4, a strumable major on 2-6 and a minor on the top 3 strings (that pesky Hawaiian bomb is safely out of the way on string 1). So far, I'm really liking it for this style - with loads of effects too which adds to the fun!
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Bill McCloskey

 

Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 7:29 am    
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Last edited by Bill McCloskey on 25 Sep 2020 5:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 8:00 am    
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Having a teacher who likes to play with different tunings, kinda helps me branch out more than I otherwise would.

Primary (on all my guitars by default), C13 (JAS). Well, all my 8 string guitars. 6 string guitars would be C6 high E usually (but they are very close, and I have occasionally flattened the 6th string to Bb). It's my home tuning really.

Secondary (second neck of my D8 and TCool B11. I'm not as "fluent" in it as C13, but getting to know it more and more. For a while I thought about simplifying, and retuning it up (with string changes if necessary) to C11, (F-D-Bb-G-E-C-G-C) to make things really simple in terms of knowing where chords are on both necks, but then I'd have to change how I play tunes in those tunings (I don't want to play Sand in C# Very Happy). But if you just think, triad chord on the low strings...the top three strings let you choose what flavor. Keep going up on same fret, its a 9th chord (or 11th if you keep going), but if you do the low strings up to string four and then move up two frets, you're in the major 6th sound then.

Other tunings are mostly variants (retunings) of C6 I've been taught. C6/A7 (JB) which I think fits a bit better on a 6th string for whatever reason, and D9. Neither am I very fluent in, but they are neat tunings. I bought a dobro to play around in open G (and also approximate the old open A high bass tuning) too...and my T8 third neck has been in an exotic E13 that I've never quite gotten the hang of...

But really, C13 and B11, can play most of what I'd ever need to.
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Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 8:02 am    
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I use two. The majority of my playing is in A6, but I do a few songs on a modified E5.
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Dom Franco


From:
Beaverton, OR, 97007
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 8:06 am    
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A6th is my favorite... so much that when I went from 6 to 8 strings, then to 10 strings and 12 and finally 13 string steel guitars, I always keep the standard A6th tuning in the middle of all the extended notes (Low or Hi).

In my experience, changing tunings hinders your instant hand eye coordination when jamming with others, playing a lead at an important gig, or laying down parts in a studio.

In my case having practiced and performed with the same tuning for many years, it is so natural, I don't have to think, I just feel then next notes like a singer hears the note before passing breath through their vocal cords.

When I play on a different tuning, I lose that instant reaction. I have to think "now where is that next note?" and in the few milliseconds it takes to decide where to play, I lose the groove, timing, attack and surety of the part.

The one exception to this has been when teaching lap steel lessons. The C6th tuning is by far the most popular for non-pedal steel, so I had to retune one of my steel guitars to be able to teach using tab for C6th students.

C6th is just as versatile as A6th, and it would be just as effective to stick with it if you start out with C6th. So my suggestion is pick one and stay with it!



So my suggestion
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 5:55 pm    
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Another A6 player - but I also re-tune to C6, C6/A7, E7, E13, B11. All can be done on the same set of strings on my 6 strings.

I can't wrap my brain around any re-entrant tunings, though.

Mostly I see how much I can get out of A6.
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David Matzenik


From:
Cairns, on the Coral Sea
Post  Posted 15 Sep 2020 8:38 pm    
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Yep, just what David M. Brown said.
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 16 Sep 2020 3:13 am    
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Dom Franco wrote:
So my suggestion is pick one and stay with it!


Valuable advice...learn on tuning well! Particularly if you wish to read off staff notation like steel players sometimes did in years past.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 16 Sep 2020 7:17 am    
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I stick to D6th with G on the bottom. I have that on my pedal steel too. Keeps me from getting too confused.
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Rob Fenton

 

From:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 16 Sep 2020 9:16 am    
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I use G and D tunings on dobro and 6-string lap steel.

I do however find that my weissenborn sounds better tuned down to C. Just seems to resonate better.
Likewise, my republic tricone sounds best in open E or C#m, though I haven't spent much time with the latter.

My main steel tuning is C6 with a high G, so I'm like the A6 folks in that respect.
The other neck of my D8 I tune to F13 (like Vance Terry's E13 but up a semitone), and retune to Leavitt with an added F on top, and an extra Bb on the bottom. This way the tunings have a lot in common to save confusion.

C6: A C E G A C E G
F13: A C Eb G A C D F
Lvt: Bb C# E G Bb C D F

The low A string on F13 I retune a lot. Down to F for Bootheel Drag, down to Ab if I want the root of a Maj7, but mostly I tune it up to Bb to be the 5th of EbMaj13(#11).

I do sometimes use B11, but just for the usual Hawaiian tunes, and I don't really do anything more than play the Jerry Byrd arrangements the same way every time. I just retune the middle 6 strings of the C6 neck.

So, really two 6-string tunings, and three 8-string tunings.

5. My answer is 5.
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 16 Sep 2020 10:38 am    
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Wow! Lots of interesting information here. I don’t think I can keep a lot of tunings straight in my head. I’ll probably stick to my G9 variations.
So, gGBDFAD, GBDFAD & gGDFAD

I just need to work really hard at resisting the temptation to keep tinkering!
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Fouke “Dan Walsh” 7 string 2020, Rickenbacker B7 1950, Gibson BR9 1951, 1950s Gibson Skylark, Fender Champ 1957, National MOTS (Valco) 1964, Fanner 4 string uke-steel 2019.


Last edited by Allan Revich on 28 Sep 2020 8:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Christopher Blood

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2020 8:34 am    
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Fairly new so I stick to open G on lap steel and dobro.
sometimes I feel like I' missing out, but most of the time I just stick with what I know. I could spend the rest of my life studying open G and still not get it mastered....
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Paul Arntson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2020 11:40 am    
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I tried to come up with a way to use what I already know on armpit guitar and minimize the "getting lost" factor.
6 string Dobro tuning but drop the low string to E for both lap and Dobro.
D
B
G
D
B
E

I am experimenting with an 8 string tuning with the same idea:
Dobro tuning for lap but putting an E on each outside string

E
D
B
G
D
B
G
E
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Allan Revich


From:
Victoria, Canada
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2020 7:44 pm    
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I was also experimenting with CGCGCE, but I’ve decided to drop the C tuning from my lap steels and stick to G9 tunings.
GBDFAD
gGDFAD
gGBDFAD

It’s a tuning that works very well for me, and since I’m also working on keeping my harmonica chops up, and upping my flute game, it makes sense to stick to a single lap steel tuning.

I envy people that can keep multiple tunings and multiple instruments on the go!
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Fouke “Dan Walsh” 7 string 2020, Rickenbacker B7 1950, Gibson BR9 1951, 1950s Gibson Skylark, Fender Champ 1957, National MOTS (Valco) 1964, Fanner 4 string uke-steel 2019.


Last edited by Allan Revich on 28 Sep 2020 8:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 24 Sep 2020 9:31 am    
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For those that find it hard to get your head around multiple tunings...that's exactly how I feel about pedal steel! It's similar except you're changing tunings every few seconds potentially, in the same song! Shocked
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I hear the rolling surf calling
Calling and calling to me
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