This article gives an introduction to playing guitar in alternate tunings, and provides tips on how to do it quickly.
No matter what type of music you play, if your instrument has six strings and uses standard tuning (EADGBE or Standard Tuning), it’s worth learning to play with an alternate tuning. It can be fun and challenging, expand the range of notes that you can play, and ultimately make you a better guitar player.
Why Use Alternate Tunings
Alternate tuning is when you use a non standard pitch for the notes of your instrument, but still follow the same chord progression as if it was in standard tuning.
Alternate tunings can offer a number of advantages for guitarists. For one, they can make it easier to play certain chords and progressions that would be difficult or impossible in standard tuning. They can also create new and interesting soundscapes to explore. And finally, playing in alternate tunings can help you break out of playing the same old licks and progressions that you’re used to.
Simple Steps for Playing Guitar in Alternate Tunings
There are a few things you’ll need to do before you can start playing in alternate tunings.
First, you’ll need to retune your guitar. This is obviously a necessary step, but it’s important to make sure that you’re using the correct tuning for the particular alternate tuning you want to use.
Second, you’ll need to adjust your playing style a bit. Alternate tunings often require you to use different fingering patterns and fretting techniques, so it’s important to take some time to learn how to play in the new tuning before you dive in headfirst.
Finally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the new chord shapes that you’ll be playing. This can be a bit of a challenge at first, but it’s important to take your time and be patient.
Here are 11 easy steps that will help you get started playing guitar in alternate tunings:
1. Choose the tuning you want to try.
There are many different alternate tunings available, so take some time to research which one is right for you.
2. Change your strings.
Depending on the tuning you’ve chosen, you may need to change one or more of your strings. Make sure you have the right gauge and tension for your guitar.
3. Tune your guitar.
This step is self-explanatory! Use an electronic tuner or another reference to help you get in tune.
4. Learn the basics.
In most alternate tunings, the shapes of chords will be different than they are in standard tuning. Spend some time learning the basic chords in your chosen tuning.
5. Experiment with new sounds.
Once you’ve got the hang of playing basic chords, start exploring and playing around with the new sounds available to you.
6. Write some new music.
Once you’re comfortable playing in your chosen tuning, it’s time to start writing some new music! See what sorts of progressions and melodies you can come up with.
7. Record yourself.
A great way to document your progress and share your playing with others is to record yourself. You can use a simple recorder or your computer’s built-in microphone.
8. Perform for friends and family.
If you’re feeling brave, why not perform some of your new tunes for your friends and family? They’ll be impressed by your playing and may even want to join in.
9. Join a band.
If you’re really enjoying playing in alternate tunings, why not join a band? There are many bands out there who use alternate tunings, and you could be a part of one of them!
10. Teach others.
Once you’ve mastered playing in alternate tunings, you can teach others how to do it too! Helping others learn is a great way to improve your own playing.
11. Keep practicing.
The most important step of all is to keep practicing! The more you play, the better you’ll get at using alternate tunings.
Get started with alternate guitar tunings today!
Here are four ways to get you started experimenting with different tunings in any key. Open Tunings will be the first topic we’ll look at.
Open tunings are achieved by tuning your guitar strings to notes that are within the same chord. This results in the ability to play a chord simply by strumming the open strings without fretting any notes. This can be extremely useful for playing lead guitar or slide guitar, as well as rhythm guitar.
Step One: Identify the notes that you’ll need for tuning.
For example, we’ll be using an Open E Tuning. This tuning is achieved by raising the fifth, fourth and 3rd strings up from standard tuning, resulting in the following notes: E – B – E – G# – B – E
Step Two: Identify the three notes in the key’s triad.
The triad is a chord in music that consists of three tones from the diatonic scale’s root, third, and fifth. The triad may be a useful tool in assisting you understand the notes used in the tuning, as well as the relationship between these notes. It will also unlock the other possible shapes that can be played in this tuning.
The open tunings are the key’s triad. In the key of E, the three notes are: E, G#, and B. As you can see, the three notes mentioned previously are also repeated on the six strings of Open E Tuning.
Since the open strings are designed to play a specific chord, you may play other chords as you move all notes following a major scale interval. If the tuning is in major, the next movable shape is also in major. And it only takes one finger fretting all strings to play a chord
With Open E Tuning, when you bar all strings on the first fret, you’re playing an F Major chord. You may now play all major chords by moving that form across the neck.
In any tuning, you may discover that the notes in a chord are creatively arranged in patterns that you can play. This will help you in playing the guitar more comfortably.
Step Three: Play a scale in the tuning’s key.
The next step is to play a scale in the tuning’s key. This will help you get familiar with how the tuning sounds and feels. It will also give you an idea of how to use the tuning for playing lead guitar.
Play the scale on the strings using the key’s root note. With Open E Tuning, E–B–E–G#–B–E, you can play the scale on the first, fourth and sixth strings.
Begin by playing the high E on the first string. Then you may repeat the pattern on the fourth and sixth strings. Because they’re the same notes played on different strings, you may experiment with playing different or similar notes in the scale on these three E strings simultaneously.
Step Four: Experiment with different chords and melodies.
Now that you know how to play a scale in the tuning’s key, you can experiment with different chords and melodies. Discover new forms in major, minor, and other chords. This is where the fun begins!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Alternate Tunings
There are both advantages and disadvantages to playing in alternate tunings. On the plus side, they can offer new challenges and open up new possibilities for your playing. On the downside, they can be tough to get used to and may require you to relearn some of the basics. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not playing in alternate tunings is right for you.
What Are the Benefits of Open Tuning?
One of the main benefits of playing in open tuning is that it allows you to play chords with ease. Since the open strings are already tuned to a specific chord, all you need to do is fret the appropriate notes and strum away. This can be a great way to learn new chord shapes.
Another benefit of playing in open tuning is that it makes playing lead guitar a bit easier. It has a wider range of possible slides for guitarists, as well as the ability to produce drones. Drones—when one or more strings are strung while the other strings are fretted.
What Are the Disadvantages of Open Tuning?
One of the main disadvantages of playing in open tuning is that it can be tough to get used to. If you’re used to playing in standard tuning, you’ll likely need to put in some extra practice time to get comfortable with the new tuning.
Same Notes, New Shapes!
Perhaps you’re thinking that anything new is a leap; nevertheless, it’s worth a shot. Remember, it’s all the same notes in new forms. The shapes feel different, yet the notes sound the same. You won’t get lost since you’ll be guided by the same music theory as in standard tuning.
Alternate tunings are a great way to learn and grow as a guitar player. As a beginner, the ideal attitude to take on this challenge is to get more enthusiastic in learning new things. Look forward to acquiring new skills.
There are endless possibilities when playing in alternate tunings. Be creative and have fun!