Tag Archives for " Alternate Tunings "


Using A Partial Capo (Cool Trick)

partial-guitar-capoIn previous guitar lessons I’ve covered how to use a guitar capo and how to transpose with a guitar capo, but in this lesson we’re going to take a slightly different approach to the capo – we’re going to only use it on part of the fretboard!

So grab your guitar capo, and place it on the second fret – but don’t let it touch the low E string, the 6th string. (See the pic on the left) Leave as much room as possible for that string, because it will be vibrating and buzzing around a bit, and it does need it’s personal space! Remember, it’s a good idea to re-check the tuning on your guitar at this point.

What we’ve done here is create a tuning that looks like this: E-B-E-A-C#-F#. This is very similar to Drop D tuning, which would be the same thing but a whole tone down. However, there is one major difference, and that is that we’ve not actually changed the tuning; we added a capo. Therefore, the intervals between the strings are the same as in standard tuning, and none of our chord shapes break, unless they’re using the open 6th string.

What I mean by that is you can go ahead and play a G major the same as you normally would, (properly moving up two frets to accommodate the capo of course) and there is no problem. In Drop D tuning, you’d have to totally change how you created that G major chord, because of the difference in tuning.

So that presents some interesting possibilities, chief of which is getting that low E to really ring out nice and beautifully, while shifting everything else into a slightly higher pitch. In my ever so humble opinion, this creates a really cool effect, and it’s something I’ve been playing around with quite a bit since I shot this video.

So grab your guitar and capo, and let’s dig into a few cool things that you can do with this alternate tuning.

Watch on Youtube


Slide Guitar: Open D Major Tricks

Slide guitar is a lot of fun to play, partly because it is so different from how you’d normally play a guitar, and partly because it can be so expressive. In this lesson Colin Daniel (from RiffNinja.com) teaches how to play a few slide riffs in between the rhythm. The rhythm we’ll use is a nice shuffle pattern I IV V that you’re probably familiar with from other lessons.

Slide guitar really lends itself to using open tunings, so in this lesson we’ll be using open D major tuning. Colin refers to a previous lesson where he explains this, but the biggest take away from that other lesson is that you need to be tuned like this: D A D F# A D.

The easiest riff you can do in an open tuning on slide guitar is to simply make an arpeggio out of the notes in the chord. It’s nice and simple, and sounds awesome. What’s not to like?

Three primary changes are I IV and V of course, and they’re found at the open position, the 5th fret, and the 7th fret. Don’t forget the octave at the 12th fret too!

Colin’s new course the Essentials of Slide Guitar digs into these topics in far more details; you can learn more about it here:

Slide Guitar Made Simple

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Standard D Tuning on Guitar

In this lesson we’ll take a look at standard D tuning on the guitar. This particular tuning is quite popular in country and metal, although I’m sure you’ll find it used elsewhere as well.

Standard D tuning is quite simply dropping standard E tuning by one whole tone on each string. It produces a lower, more growly sound, which can be really cool on the guitar.

There are hundreds of alternate tunings for the guitar, so when you’re deciding which one to use, you really need to consider what you want to do with it. One of the big benefits of standard D tuning, as opposed to some of the open tunings, is that all the same chord patterns you’re familiar with still work. You’ve only just dropped things down by a whole step.

Keeping that in mind, in standard D, if you play an open D major, that will now become a C major. Likewise, G becomes F, A becomes G, etc etc. Definitely something you’ll have to think about, unless you’re the only person playing.

For quick comparison here’s E Standard Tuning: E A D G B E

And here’s D Standard Tuning: D G C F A D

One thing you might want to consider if you’re using a lot of alternate tunings is to setup a guitar just for that tuning. It allows the guitar to settle into that tuning, and also allows you to tweak the action and string gauge specifically for that tuning. For instance, with many of the drop tunings you’ll get a better tone out of a heavier gauge string. Of course, if you play mostly in standard tuning, you may not want a heavier gauge string on there all the time. So that’s something to have a think on.

Alright, you ready? Let’s dive into the lesson.

Standard D Tuning Lesson:

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The Spider Capo Reviewed

Spider CapoA little while ago the folks over at ToneGear sent me one of their gadgets – a Spider Capo – to checkout. I’ve played around with it a bit, so I figured it was time to share my thoughts on it.

Firstly – what in the world is a SPIDER capo? We all know what a capo is, right? It’s a cool little device that allows you to bar a particular fret all the way across. In its standard form, this means barring the whole fret, say the 3rd fret, so that you essentially shift everything up and can play open chords but in a different key. If you’re tricky like me, maybe you use a normal capo as a partial capo, leaving the low E open or something.

Pretty cool stuff.

Well, the Spider Capo does the same thing, with a very unique twist… it lets you pick which strings to fret, and which ones to leave open. There are six individual levers (called fingers), one for each string, which you set individually. Use all six if you want, or just one, it’s your call.

The Spider Capo Fits All Guitar Necks

I tried the Spider Capo on a couple different guitars, and because you can actually shift each “finger” or lever sideways, it is adjustable to fit pretty much any six string guitar. I’ve got a 3/4 size acoustic guitar with a narrower neck, and although the fingers are really close together, it works on there just as well as on my full size acoustic or electric. Apparently, they’ll also work on a banjo or mandolin, though I’ve not tried that myself. To do this though, you’d just unscrew the end and remove fingers as necessary.

Additionally, because the entire mechanism is different than the standard clamp style capo, you can actually adjust the tension placed on each string individually, which is an added bonus that can help you tweak out any buzzing that might occur.

Change Tunings On The Fly

Because the fingers are easy enough to adjust individually, if you can think of a way to use the Spider Capo in this fashion, you could technically change tunings mid song, without too much difficulty. One example might be moving from a major tuning to a minor tuning mid stream. Alternate guitar tunings can be so much fun, but they’re often a bit clunky to work with on the fly. This can change that quite easily.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I think the Spider Capo is a brilliant step forward for guitar capos. You get far more versatility than a standard capo, and if you’re the type of player that loves to sit and tinker with your guitar, then this may well be squarely up your alley. This will get your brain thinking much harder about your guitar and why and how it is tuned the way it is, which is a great exercise that will help you even playing in standard tuning.

In addition, I like the fact that the “fingertip” of each lever is a slightly concave plastic end, rather than the typical rubber you find on most capos. This means that when you do a string stretch, your string doesn’t move to a different position and then stick there; it has the freedom to slide back to its original position.

The Spider Capo will run you about 30 bucks on Amazon or elsewhere (click here for current prices), which is a bit more than a normal capo; however I view them as two totally different gadgets. Use a normal capo for the things you’ve always used it for, and use a Spider Capo to add something truly unique that you’ve never been able to explore before using a traditional capo.

Checkout the video below to see the Spider Capo in action.

The Spider Capo Review


Open G Major Tuning: Great for Slide Guitar!

Today I’m posting one of my friend Colin’s videos, one that he did on the Open G Major tuning for guitar. This is just an introduction to the tuning, giving you an idea what you can do with an open tuning. Alternate guitar tunings are a ton of fun, and this is one example.

When you’re tuned to open G major, when you strum all the strings without using any frets, you’ve got a G major chord.

Playing slide in open G major tuning makes things a lot simpler, because now you can create a whole chord on the same fret with the slide. This opens up all kinds of possibilities that aren’t available in standard tuning. Colin has a series of guitar lessons on slide, including a whole course called Essentials of Slide Guitar. You can find out more about that here:

Slide Guitar Made Simple

Video Problems? Watch Open G Major on Youtube.


Drop D Tuning – Let’s Have Some Fun

Drop D tuning is a great place to start if you’re looking to learn or try something a bit different on your guitar. Experimenting with alternate guitar tunings can be a great place to generate new ideas. It’s amazing, but by changing the tuning of just one string (let alone more), you can dramatically change the possibilities and the sounds that come out of your guitar.

This lesson is on Drop D tuning – as opposed to Open D. Drop D tuning is when you simply tune the 6th string (low E) down a whole tone to D.

In open D, you actually change more than just one string… but we’ll save that for a different day!

The trick here is that you can’t play any of the chords you’re normally used to playing that use the 6th string. For instance an open G is out… you have to find a new way to play the G chord.

Keys that revolve around the D chord are great for this tuning, as you can use the D drone in most of your chords that way. So D, or even the fourth or fifth of D (G and A) work well too… and if you wanted, you could even use some minor keys.

Anyways, without further rambling, here’s the lesson! Let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page if you’d like to learn more on alternate tunings…

Drop D Tuning On Guitar:

Video Problems? Watch directly on YouTube

Related Lessons: Checkout the lesson on D form triads.