PLAYING IN DIFFERENT TUNINGS
This is quite exciting for a lot of beginners who just become intermediates. It is around this time usually that they first start learning about changing tunings. This is something that can also throw some people off track at first as the notes they have learned on the guitar is no longer the same as they had once learned before due to the change of tuning.
With that being said there are advantages of changing tunings which I will get to in a second. However in order to make playing in different tunings easier and more exciting for you there are certain things you will have to do to prepare for changing the tuning. If you do these things you will be able to have much more fun playing in different tunings with little headache and you will not get lost on the guitar. You will also be able to be much more creative in different tunings after this.
But first what is the advantages of playing in different tunings?
Well there are many advantages to this. Some examples are:
1) You will be able to play songs that you were not able to play before- This is a powerful one for a lot of beginners who first learn about this. They now are able to play songs that they would not have been able to play before which is really great! If there is a song that you really want to be able to play but it is in a different tuning.
2) You will be able to create a lot more ideas that you would not have been able to create before- This is because the available pitch range you have your instrument is different from before. It is either lower or higher depending on the tuning you use, this means that you will be able to create ideas that will inevitably be different from what you had in different tunings.
If you have a 7 string or a guitar with more strings then this also increases the amount of pitch range you have available even if you are in standard tuning due to the extra string. But if you do not want to invest time learning another string then this is what changing tunings does for you.
3) Depending on what tuning you use, certain chord voicings are much easier and more become possible for you- An example of this is power chords. This becomes possible to play with one finger and you can even do open power chords in drop d tuning or lower. Other chord voicings will become possible also.
What do you have to prepare for changing tunings?
1) Can your guitar strings handle the tuning you want to tune down or up to?
If you go too low or high for your strings to be able to handle you will not be able to stay in that tuning and the strings will either snap or become really lose. Also your guitar setup with the truss rod and neck will have to be changed so that the guitar can handle the tuning
2) Do you know the scales and chords/arpeggios you usually use in the new tuning?
You have to be able to know this because in real life you either know it or you don’t and you will have to devote some time to this as it will throw you off at first until you are used to it. Although certain ideas can be created in different tunings you need to know your way around the guitar.
3) Do you know the notes of the guitar on the new tuning?
Although knowing the functions of scales and the emotions of those functions is more important than the letter names of the notes, you need to be able to recall where these functions are. Knowing the name is useful for communicating with other musicians. This will change now that the tuning has changed and you will need to learn this at the same time you are learning the scales and arpeggios in the new tuning.
Take this information and use it to prepare yourself for experimenting in different tunings.
About the author: When Jake Willmot plays the guitar he primarily uses standard turning and half step down on his 7 string. But on his 6 string he uses a lot of drop tunings, drop C# for example on one of his Floyd rose guitars. He teaches guitar lessons in Exmouth and has been doing so since 2015. If you want to play solos and learn to be creative you must go to him!