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ClaytonL

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #1 
Hey, I'm new to this site and to solo guitar, so I'm hoping someone can help me out. I tune my guitar in perfect fourths (E A D G C F) which makes the fretboard symmetrical, but i'm curious if this will hinder my ability to play solo guitar. While this simplifies playing chords and lead, I'm curious if its considered a bad idea for playing solo. I can only do very basic ideas, and I'm definitely improving, but I'm curious to see if you guys think it will hold me back in the long run for solo playing. Does anyone know if Ted ever talked about tuning like this? Hes the best so i'm curious what he would say about it. Thanks!
DougMiers

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Posts: 24
Reply with quote  #2 
Let me share with you a quote from George Van Eps. The cover story of the August 1981 issue of Guitar Player magazine was an interview of George, written by Ted.  At one point, Ted asked about George's decision to add the low 7th string.  George's response was:

"I wanted to get down where my brother (a pianist) was playing; I wanted more range.  But I didn't want to change the wonderful Spanish guitar tuning.  You know, it evolved--it wasn't thought out by one person.  Every morning I do a bow to the east and thank God for whoever's mind decided to put the third in the tuning."  --Guitar Player Magazine, August 1981, page 82, middle column, last paragraph.
ClaytonL

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #3 
Very cool! Alright, I'm gonna try tuning my guitar in standard tuning again. I'll give it a fair go. There must be some logic behind it I don't see. The only explanation anyone ever gave me was a guitar teacher at a music school I was going to. He said its because most people just wanna play open triads, and fourths tuning doesn't help that. I can see that makes sense... but most guitar players arn't playing a lot of open triads. Ones that I know/listen to anyways. So why arn't more guitar players tuning in fourths? Like I said, I'm gonna give the regular tuning a go. I hope it solves some of my troubles. I'll also be able to study the chord charts of Ted's too. Thanks for the quote!
omobob

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Posts: 112
Reply with quote  #4 

I think Carl Kress tuned his guitar in perfect fifths (Bb F C G D A with A tuned down an octave); I have a vague recollection of reading a story about Van Eps' father warning him away from Kress because of that tuning...

PaulV

Moderator
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Posts: 1,562
Reply with quote  #5 
Check these out:
http://lilytears.com/arts/music/guitar/methods/intro/4ths.htm
http://www.studioperdue.com/music/fourths.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Standard_Tuning

I believe that Stanley Jordan uses the all 4ths tuning. The Chapman Stick is based on all 4ths on the top 5 stings, and 5ths on the bottom 5 strings.
Robert Fripp uses what he calls the NST (New Standard Tuning) which is CGDAEG (fourths and a minor 3rd on top string) - and his music is pretty "out there." Of course Joni Mitchell has endless tunings she creates for each song...but then again, she's not playing chord-melody jazz standards, soloing, or classical pieces.

I'm not advocating it, and if one decides to take a different road you'll have to do a lot of your own arranging and working out technical challenges, but there is plenty of room in the musical arena for alternative techniques, ideas, approaches.  It may lead to something wonderfully unique!
--Paul


__________________
--Paul
ClaytonL

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #6 
Stanley Jordan definitely does use the 4ths tuning. Cool stuff man, I've seen those sites before. I've made the switch back to regular tuning. For good I think. Heres my reasoning; while the 4ths tuning is much better for single note playing (scales lay out easier and playing/reading music in different positions is essentially the same), I feel that standard tuning does have meaning in its non-symmetrical nature. Its super simple, but I think its just because C and F are b6/b9 against the E, and b3/b6 against the A that they arn't as nice of choices as B and E. I think I get thinking about the guitar too much as being a vertical and horizontal thing, rather then seeing the big picture. Its an instrument, like the piano, it has its pros and cons. Now I'm gonna get learning all the Ted Greene stuff I can find. I've already started learning the level 1 chords for chord melody pages. Theres lots there!
markjens

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Posts: 121
Reply with quote  #7 
As in so many of the arts, it is always best to be more than conversant with the 'rules,' or the standards.  When you break the rules you are doing so knowingly and for a good reason.  I have played with various tunings, but in the end I decided that I wanted to spend more time playing and less time in research and development.  Your mileage may vary and you seem to be open to ideas, but I think you are wise to be fluent in standard tuning first.

Mark
Harmoniast

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #8 
If it's crazy altered tunings you want, check out the music of the late Nick Drake!

Some of his tunings defy belief.

(And Nick was a classically-trained pianist and clarinettist before he took up the guitar.)
masterH

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmoniast
If it's crazy altered tunings you want, check out the music of the late Nick Drake!

Some of his tunings defy belief.

(And Nick was a classically-trained pianist and clarinettist before he took up the guitar.)


Nick Drake is fantastic. "bryter layter" album is brilliant featuring some great guitar work from Nick and Richard thompson who some of you may know from fairport convention- I love "hazey Jane II" and "one of these things first" especially. His story is so sad.
Shmals

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #10 
i think the important thing is to make a decision and stick with it.  it you want to use fourths than go with it. but go all the way and dont turn back.
TimGebel

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Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #11 
the great thing about the standard guitar tuning is that it gives you the option of different fingerings. if you encounter an awkward fingering you have the chance of finding a better one on another stringset. in a fourth tuning you don't have any option because it's all the same. And if you understand string transference as Ted described it in "chord chemistry" and taught it in his lessons there's no problem with the logic. there is a logic but it's hard to see for a lot of people. it applies to chords and scales and intervals and everything... The fretboard is a matrix with a space warp.... Another big plus of standard tuning is having the 5th and the octave on b and e string if the root is on the low e-string. in perfect fourth tuning you have b13 and b9 which doesn't allow the use of barre chords - unless you tend to ALWAYS play altered dominants ;-)
In one of ted's books he wrote something about how intelligent the one guy or the group of people who invented standard guitar tuning must have been if i recall correctly...
when i was at GIT i met a guy who had a guitar with 9 strings tuned in minor thirds or something like this. I asked him about it and he explained to me how logical it is and what the advantages are... but he couldnt play anything for me... it looked good and impressive and the idea seemed to be logical, but in my opinion these things are rather limiting because you can't play in a guitarish manner. It's kind of like inventing a piano with twelve white keys and no black ones... does it really make it easier???
ClaytonL

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #12 
Interesting thoughts. I tuned back to standard for a short bit but I had to tune back. I've been tuning in fourths for a little over 2 years and I can't imagine going back. I do occasionally when I'm showing someone something in standard, but thats not often at all.

The guy with 9 strings was probably tuned in major thirds, because that would give you 3 augmented triads. E G# C, E G# C, E G# C. Of course following the same logic you brought up (which is very important), its not a good idea intervallically. Heres an excerpt from a website I'm working on which is ALMOST done.

A major scale can give us the following intervals: a minor second/major seven twice, a major second/minor seven five times, minor third/major six four times, major third/minor six three times, fourth/fifth six times, and a tritone twice. So if you're barring across two notes in a thirds tuning, you will get half as many good notes as you do with fourths/fifths tuning. When tuning in tritones, we get a third as many usable notes.

It makes sense to me. Also, when you try to voice chords on thirds or tritone tunings, compared to fourths, fifths, or standard tuning, you quickly realize its true. Its a bad idea. I've got a whole list of pros and cons of symmetrical tunings from minor thirds up to fifths, as well as standard with pictures and everything. I'm not sure that many people will even appreciate it, but who knows.

Back to fourths, I don't play big 6 string triads, so the interval thing hasn't hurt me much, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't when playing with rock players (I don't often, but still). I can do big barre chords that are the exact same voicings as in standard tuning using a technique I got from a Ted Greene book. He calls it cross fretting and its smart stuff! Its not comfortable at all for me, but its do able. I've had to come up with all of my own voicings, but it allows greater musical freedom in a few senses. Say I'm learning drop 2 voicings of major 7 chords. Theres 4 inversions to learn. So for me its 4 voicings. In standard tuning there are 3 string sets so it would be 12 voicings. Obviously 8 chord voicings isn't a big deal to learn, but when you have to do that with every 4 string chord voicing, it adds up fast. Very fast. Just with Major 7, minor 7, minor 7b5, and a dominant 7, it would be 16 voicings compared to 48. I feel a lot more musically free on this tuning because I don't have to think as much. Everything is just where it should be. I hit a big rut in my playing while I was at music school and needed to do something. I don't think about my vertical area on the guitar now, because its all the same. That allows me so much more freedom, I learn something and I can start applying it wherever. Its not for everyone, but I'm into making things up as I go.
bmreeds

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Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #13 
this is an old thread, I didn't read....I tune in all 4ths....and I have worked through a number of ted arrangements with some alterations, with no problem......its a shame there is so much mis-information about all 4ths....The logic of an all symmetrical tuning is hard to disregard.....and it is excellent for solo/cord melody work......it is not a crazy tuning at all.....far from it.....
goldglob

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Posts: 62
Reply with quote  #14 
Both standard and non standard tuning have their own advantages and disadvantages but for me, having always played standard, playing non standard would be like learning a new instrument from scratch. Standard's non-symmetry soon becomes second nature. Actually, thinking back to my first years playing guitar I don't think the non-symmetry ever occurred to me as a problem. But it would of course seem strange to someone used to non standard...bass players moving from 4 strings to 5 or 6 strings keep the symmetry of 4ths going for obvious reasons.
bmreeds

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Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #15 
sure...I get it.....that much time invested in standard, why change.....I started, like all of us in standard....banging away with bar cords as a kid....took a few jazz lessons with a guy who tuned in 4ths...made the switch, no big deal...then a few years later stopped playing and moved on....Before retiring, decided to take another stab at it....picking up with 4ths again was a no brainer for me....learning the drop cords was simple and I was able to get right into playing.....the triads.....all logical, movable...I doubt without 4ths that I would be playing at all today.......But as you state, all tunings have their advantages and disadvantages....that is a fact
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