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Now isn't that nice? - Skip James, in hospital, to Fahey and Barth after they show him a discography listing his known records

Author Topic: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes  (Read 2161 times)

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Offline bird to whistle

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Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« on: June 27, 2013, 08:52:44 PM »
Since Vestapol has the same intervals as an E shape, and Spanish the same as an A shape. I was thinking what tunings are based on a G and C shape?

The G shape has the intervals, from 6th to 1st string, of 135131 so I tried EG#BEG#E. It sounds alright. It's kind of like Spanish with a more useable 6th string.

It's was fun playing around with the first string. I tried 135132, 135135, 13513b7 and 135137. 135132 sounded good, it was DF#ADF#E. That's the same as a sus2, correct?

I tried the C shape intervals, 513515, but didn't find it as interesting as the G shape.

Have you guys tried these tunings before? Were they used in any old tunes you know of?

Thanks.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 08:42:30 AM »
Hi bird to whistle,
The C tuning you cite, with one alteration, was used by Peg Leg Howell, on "Low Down Rounder Blues" and "Fairy Blues", though his guitar was tuned 5-R-3-5-R-3 rather than 5-R-3-5-R-5.  He was the only Country Blues player that I know of that used that tuning, though it was evidently used in the Parlor Guitar tradition and shows up on a couple of tunes on the County CD, "Rural Parlor Guitar".  Incidentally, the tuning is much easier to get to as open Bflat, F-Bb-D-F-Bb-D, than as open C, G-C-E-G-C-E.  In open Bb, no string is altered in pitch by more than one whole step.  In open C, the two lowest bass strings are tuned up a minor third and the fourth string is tuned up a whole step--kind of a tough thing to do to your guitar, and much likelier to result in string breakage.  I've done a lot of work with this tuning in the past couple of years, and really like it.
The G tuning you cite is the same as dobro tuning (though that is done with an open G chord), and was used by Casey Bill Weldon.  It's sometimes referred to as "high G tuning".  John Jackson used this tuning to play in his variant of Spanish, which he did infrequently.
All best,
Johnm

Offline bnemerov

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 11:59:02 AM »
Hi John and bird....
Speaking of John Jackson, I remember sitting with him in his hotel room before a festival where he handed me his guitar and, to my surprise, I found it in the open C you cite---with the 3rd on top. I was unaccustomed to the tuning and after fumbling around to find the scales, I asked him what he used it for and he said it was good for playing hymns, though I don't recall any particular titles. He was quite comfortable playing in the tuning. I don't know if he ever recorded any hymns in open C. Worth a listen through his recordings, bird.
best,
bruce

Offline blueshome

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 02:10:37 PM »
In 2000 in Exeter John showed us "I'm Going to Lay Down My Old Guitar" in what turned out to be C tuning (pitched at Bb) when we checked his guitar. A beautiful arrangement which I regret I failed to record..

Offline P D Grant

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Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 02:14:20 PM »
Not country blues, but Curtis Mayfield played using the 135131 tuning, with F# as his 1 (according to wiki)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 05:16:24 PM »
Jerry Ricks played sometimes in a C variant, C-G-C-G-C-E. He taught a few folks here a couple of songs in this tuning at Port Townsend one year. Having the deep low end C & G, and the E & high C on top, gives it a big dynamic range. The IV & V chord inversions are pretty fun to figure out. I should get back into it. If you'd like to hear what it sounds like in Jerry's hands check out his album Deep In The Well,  a nice arrangement of James Alley Blues in this tuning.

[edited to pick up correction below]
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 08:49:27 AM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 10:24:47 PM »
Hi all,
For any of you who might be interested in fooling around in the open Bb tuning and seeing what you come up with, one thing that might give you a leg up is that the IV and V7 chord are fingered the same as they are in Vestapol, but just moved one string toward the bass (the first string not included).  So a IV chord in open Bb would be fingered 2-0-1-2-0-1, with the second fret of the third string and the first fret of the first string optional, depending on how droney or consonant a sound you were shooting for.  Similarly, the V7 chord is fingered 0-2-1-0-2-1, with the first two strings having the option of being left open for a more droney sound.

You mentioned in your post, Bruce, that John Jackson had said that the tuning suited hymns well, and I have found that to be the case, too.  I play some Washington Phillips hymns and other hymns in this tuning and they lay out beautifully.  I should say, too, that the tuning works really, really well for thumb lead playing, a la Maybelle Carter.  I used the tuning and that technique to play "I'm Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table" on the most recent CD with Orville Johnson and Grant Dermody. 

Also, because the tuning has no interval between adjacent strings larger than a perfect fourth, it really lends itself to pianistic, close-voiced chordal sounds, which I particularly enjoy.  I played the arrangement of "Deep River" that I came up with on the Rev. Davis birthday thread, here:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=9417.msg79655#msg79655
out of open Bb tuning.  It is currently probably my favorite tuning to fool around with, and I think it has a beautiful sound and lots of unplumbed possibilities.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2013, 09:27:36 AM »
Hi all,
Here is Jerry Ricks performing his version of "James Alley Blues" in low open C tuning that Rivers alluded to earlier in this thread.  It was filmed in Jerry's adopted homeland of Croatia.
All best,
Johnm


http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2101.msg58794#msg58794

Offline lindy

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2013, 07:21:35 PM »

Rivers--

Minor correction--"Change Your Ways" is in dropped D tuning. The reason I know that is that I sat in on those same classes with Jerry that year, and Change Your Ways was the #1 song that I took home and worked on right away. As with most of his recorded songs, he's tuned down at least a half-tone.

Lindy

Offline Rivers

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2013, 08:40:34 AM »
I stand corrected Lindy, memory malfunction.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2013, 10:07:08 AM »
Not country blues either (though close IMO) but Mike Seeger played "I'm Crazy Over You" from Southern Guitar Sounds in a variant of the open C tuning: CCEGCE, with the lowest string an octave below the 5th string. In contrast to some of the really pretty sounds I've heard others get from this tuning - haven't used it myself - he played a guitar part that sounds much like "Reuben". And for some reason doesn't hit the low string. I assume he played something else in this tuning and used the low string.

Offline doit

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Re: Open Tunings and Chord Shapes
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2017, 09:37:36 AM »
Not country blues, but Curtis Mayfield played using the 135131 tuning, with F# as his 1 (according to wiki)

I've made a guide with chords of Curtis Mayfield ?Black Keys? Open F# Guitar tuning.
Available as PDF/ePub/Online.
Please take a look.  ;)

Tags: C tuning 
 


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