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The Magic Of Alternate Guitar Tunings

One of the most exciting things you can do as an intermediate guitar player is explore an alternate tuning. Typically, a six-string guitar is tuned in EADGBE, which works fine. However, tuning your guitar to something else opens up a realm of chord voicings and playing styles previously unimaginable. The satisfaction of hearing an alternate tuning ring out is similar to the first time you finally nailed that pesky F chord. 

For example, take the Open C tuning utilised by Bon Iver in Skinny Love. Through this tuning, Bon Iver was able to stum a chord structure while fitting in wide-ranging guitar licks at the same time. This is due to the flexibility of the tuning. When strummed, it plays a beautiful, rich, open C, allowing guitarists to add embellishments as they see fit, without breaking their hand or stretching their fingers to unreasonable lengths. Speaking of Bon Iver, be sure to tune into this incredible cover from Sally Seltmann. 

If you’re into rock and metal, definitely try out Drop D Tuning. Drop D produces a deep, powerful sound that you can easily bar and turn into power chords of your choosing. Dear Prudence (The Beatles) and All Apologies (Nirvana) both quip this technique to great effect. Like a strong cover, an alternate tuning will present new ideas, bringing new elements to an existing chord structure and melody. 

The downside of alternate tunings? They take a while to tune perfectly, and you risk breaking a string in the process. You have to be slow and patient, trust me. I’ve lost far too many strings to the rush of getting to that Open C. Despite this potential hiccup, it’s still very much worth exploring the new sounds of alternate tunings, even though it’s not what your guitar is typically used to resting on. At the very least, you’ll sound fresher than a Youtube to mp3 trap beat.  

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