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Friday, July 24, 2009

Tunings, tunings & more tunings...

If you hadn't heard it before, I will inform you now:

To be familiar with playing slide guitar is to be intimately familiar with alternate tunings.
Most of these tunings are open tunings in a particular key. Open G is extremely prevalent, as are open D, open C, open A & open E. Open tunings, are, quite simply, tuning the strings of the guitar so that strumming all of the strings will produce a single coherent chord. That chord is frequently a major chord, but I also use minor tunings to produce a more ominus atmosphere to some of my compositions.

Because of the use of open tunings, it becomes easier to focus your attention on right hand fingerstyle techniques and picking patterns, , alternating & monotonic basslines, banjo-rolls, etc....

All of this is not to say that it is impossible to play slide blues with standard tuning (EADGBE), but it is trickier to successfully accomplish, since the chances of gliding along 2 or more discordant strings is significantly greater. When in an open tuning, everything you play generally sounds harmonious. If you DO decide to play slide blues in a standard tuning, be sure to do your homework on how to properly dampen the strings that you do not intend to play at any given time, or the results will be ugly!

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