Monday, November 05, 2007

Open Tuning

Image obtained from Folk of the Wood

At the moment, Lucia is strumming a lovely G chord on her guitar. "How can this be?" you ask. "Lucia is only 4 1/2 years old, and there is no way that her left hand can span the fretboard to play a G chord." You are right. With the standard guitar string tuning of E-B-G-D-A-E (going from thinnest to thickest strings), a simple strum sounds like noise if you're not pressing down any strings. However, if you retune your guitar strings to what is called an "open tuning," you can strum all of the strings without pressing down on the fretboard at all, and the chord sounds good. Lucia is currently strumming "G-B-D-G-B-G" and singing a song of her own composition: "There's a rainbow pie! In a rainbow sky!" Rather coincidentally, the sun has just emerged.

In the event that it's of use to you, here is an Online MIDI guitar tuner. However, I'm a fan of the electronic chromatic tuners that you can clip onto the headstock of your guitar:

You can tune other things with a chromatic tuner, too. I periodically open-tune my door harp (bought years ago, after I read Davita's Harp by Chiam Potok):


TadMack said...

I'm a fan of anything that makes it sound like I can play the guitar... me and Lucia are at about the same skill level... except she can play a G Chord... sigh.

Look, I can play an autoharp, okay?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

TadMack: I've wanted to play the autoharp ever since I saw "A Mighty Wind." And I'll tune your guitar to an open G chord if you like." I mean, give me an excuse to return to Scotland, already! :)

Lone Star Ma said...

What's a door harp?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: A door harp is like door chimes, only little mallets (?)softly play strings when the door opens and closes.

Minh Le said...

is there a way to tune your guitar so that you can play B7 without using the fretboard?

and i haven't forgotten about the Babar Book that was Never Written! Soon(ish) I promise!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Minh: Here's what you do:
1) Play your song.
2) When you get to the B7, stop the song and open-tune your guitar.
3) Open-strum your B7.
4) Retune your guitar to the standard tuning.
5) Resume song.

Repeat each time you get to the B7 chord.

Alternately, you could just transpose the whole song into the key of A.