tuning in 4ths

Since 1986 I have played almost entirely in 4ths tuning. That is I tune my guitars E A D G C F.


Good question. I was studying and practising a lot of scales and trying to move away from my more blues based playing. I always found the interval of a third between the G and B strings a hindrance since I began to think a lot in terms of intervals, so I tried tuning my guitar in 4ths.

was it easy?

No, not at all. I had already been playing for many years and I had to relearn all my chords and scale positions.

I found myself playing excruciating notes in solos a semitone away from where I had intended, it hindered my reading, and when I taught I often had to play back in standard tuning to illustrate points. However, I have persevered because it is just so …interesting. I can play things that other guitarists would find very challenging if not impossible (of course I can’t play the opening phrase of Hey Joe) and it suits my love of patterns, order and distance on the fingerboard correlating to what you hear as an interval.

Maybe it’s because I started out playing the piano. I don’t know. I discovered that Stanley Jordan also uses this tuning and I certainly feel that I’m still discovering and learning new ways to use and think about it.

To be continued…