All fourths tuning for guitar

Perfect_4ths_guitar_tuning

It’s strange how the human brain works. Sometimes suddenly something starts to make sense even if you have heard about it for years and years. This happened to me this week.

I started playing guitar since I was 12 years old. In regular tuning because it was… well, I don’t know… we are all tuning to that system, right? Other tunings felt strange to me. But this week when a fellow Dutch guitar player mentioned his switch to the All fourths tuning this week on Facebook it dawned on me: this is obviously a super cool method to look at the fretboard of a guitar! It’s way more structured than regular tuning. Like playing bass guitar + 2 extra strings. And man, I LOVE playing bass.

I decided to apply the All fourths tuning to the guitar that I keep in my living room. And instead of tuning the 5th B-string to a C and the 6th E-string to an F I decided to use the E♭ tuning. So my guitar is now tuned like this:

First string: E♭

Second string: A♭

Third string: D♭

Fourth string: G♭

Fifth string: B (regular)

Sixth string: E (regular)

The All fourths tuning is a very musical tuning. It’s the inverse of tuning in fifths. Regular tuning works great for open chords and this is probably the reason why it became so populair. But it has that mind fuck moment as soon as you start to solo and try to train your brain to adjust to string-skipping from G-string to B-string.

It will take a lot of time to adopt to this new tuning I guess, simply because I have grew accustomed to regular tuning. I need to find new fingerings for chords and single notes and that will take time. But it feels as if I have just openend a door to a totally new world. A world with a very clear and logical map. Really cool!


Also published on Medium.

,

7 Responses to All fourths tuning for guitar

  1. John Pazdan July 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Ha..welcome to my world. I have been playing a lot of tenor bass (a/d/g/c/f) and piccolo bass the last 7 years or so. One cool thing for you to explore is skipped voice chords. I found these by perusing Joe Pass voicings. What you do is start on the Eb string, then skip and/or mute the next, then fret the next 2 (or 3) all within 2 or 3 frets of your Eb string position. FE..if you “barred it” (but you maybe will use your individual fingers instead) let’s say the first note is A on the lowest string..skip the next, then on the same fret play the G on the 4th string, then the next string the C. This gives you an Am7 with eth most important notes root/7th and m3rd. feel free to add the next string too, ie go down a fret there for the E, giving you A skip G C E either an am7 or c6, but as the A is the root and in the bass, you’ll probably hear it as the m7. Fun eh? Don’t forget to add the fhank as usual. Who needs those pesky campfire tunings? We are talking straight out Catfish Collins my brother.

    • Marco Raaphorst July 8, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Ha! Yes these kind of voicings are really nice for playing Am7, Am11, Am13 with a bass on low Eb using the thumb. Is Catfish also using 4ths tuning?

      • John Pazdan July 8, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

        no, but he uses the open voice chords a lot. I think it came about to play without a bass player, and I have done some walking things using it as well, but i am NOT a jazz player, though I often pretend I am ‘)

  2. John Pazdan July 8, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    Of course you can use these on “standard” tuned guitars too. As you have 6 strings, it’s super easy to go up and down 4ths or fifths without moving your right hand a lot. Why move your hand when you need to concentrate on your dance moves? 😉

    Another thing about trying different tunings is that you really do break out of a box. I have been tuning my piccolo a lot of different ways..C=Melody, dropped, etc etc . I usually don’t play “bass” when doing this, but I can!

  3. John Pazdan July 8, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    I meant “left” hand in the above.

  4. Matt September 5, 2017 at 11:49 pm #

    If you’re looking for a chord book to help with the transition from standard to fourths tuning, there’s a great one here: http://www.unlocktheguitar.net/fourths-tuning-chords-and-inversions.html

Leave a Reply