Tunings & Teaching

Often people ask what tunings I use and I usually don't try to explain or share them when I think someone will not understand what I'm talking about, it can get pretty boring pretty fast when you don't understand music theory. So, I've decided to unveil the tunings I use on my new album right here in my blog! A very common thing to do is tune the 6th string down to a D, this is called drop D tuning. Everything else stays the same except for your 6th string. I do this on Skywatching & End To Beginning. It just allows you to have a deeper tone for your bass lines that lie within your guitar parts and works really nicely when you're playing solo and don't have the rich sound of a bass guitar there with you. It's a popular thing to do among guitar players. I don't believe in looking up tunings on the internet...why would I want to use a tuning that has been used a million times before? It's cool to experiment with them but when I write, I allow myself to become as open and experimental as possible, tune the strings one by one, achieving the sound that will best convey the emotion I am representing within my song. I tend to be attracted to minor keys & dissonance. That is not to say I won't rock a MA7 or MA9 here and there, I love bright, dreamy chord progressions as well which you hear on the title track, "Playing With Pendulums". I also tend to combine both worlds in many songs, it's like being in and out of sleep, sunlight, darkness, sunlight, darkness...

Some people tend to think they can only write one song per tuning! NO WAY! I have multiple songs in all the tunings I use and they don't sound they same and are not necessarily in the same key. It's all in your approach and what chords you form within the tuning, approach the way you do a standard tuning and you'll see what I mean. You can form an A chord just as easy as you can form an Ab chord...the shapes are different, the fingering positions change but the theory is the same.

Easier Said Than Done: the tuning for this song was stumbled upon while coming out of another tuning.

F G D G Bb E an odd tuning b/c generally I do not tune my low E up. It's a haunting tuning in G minor, the 6th degree which is E on the first string paired with the dominant 7th, F on the 6th string create the exact type of dissonance I was going for with this song. It's creepy!

Playing With Pendulums: I love this tuning & I think Kaki King uses it in "Night After Sidewalk". It's probably the most magical tuning I use and when I say "magical", I mean the tuning itself reminds me of be enchanted, fairytale like in nature. The song is basically in the key of D for all but one chord change when I throw a curve ball.

D A B F# A E here I throw in the 6th (B) and the 9th (E), you can pick straight through these open strings and hear the magic right away.

The Minds I I hate going in and out of this tuning b/c I always fear I'll break a string! If it's on the setlist, I usually have one guitar dedicated to this song just to be safe :) It's a C minor tuning

C G Eb G C Eb pretty standard, you have the root (C), the 3rd (Eb) and the 5th (G), a very intense tuning though!

The Ground We Lay On & Head First, Heart Last I use my ovation guitar for these songs and I actually have another song we haven't performed out also in this tuning, also an intense tuning!

Db B Ab Gb Ab Db great tuning for any genre. If your action is very low on your guitar, the 6th string could buzz so be careful there. It's also best to have a higher gage string on the 6th and 5th strings. Your tuning the D string down to Ab so it will feel a bit loose but you'll get use to it. I think of this as a Db sus4 tuning with the 6th down a half step on the 5th string.

Mexico & Hola Nino Hermoso I've recently written a new song in this tuning that we just started playing out so I'm getting a lot of use out of this.  I love the harmonics in this tuning!

D G D F A E this is a D minor add 9 tuning, you've got the root D, mi3 F, 4th, G, 5th A and 9th E

Hope this helps answer some questions. There are many more tunings I use but these are what I used for this album so more to come someday...

I entered my 10th year of teaching guitar, voice and piano 2010. A decade really goes by fast.  I double majored in jazz voice and guitar and minored in piano and it seems like it was just yesterday but 8 years have passed!! Hard to believe! I've been lucky to have a full teaching schedule and long waiting list. Many of my students are going on to record and play live & it's very exciting to watch them grow as musicians. I have several students who have been studying tapping, finger style techniques & percussive techniques on guitar. They are learning about open tunings and finding "outside the box" ways to approach playing & writing. Since I play drums too, I often use my guitar as a percussive instrument, sometimes break right into beat within a song like I do on "The Spirit Within".  I like to get the most out of my instrument, whether I'm tapping, picking, strumming, standing, sitting or playing lap guitar, I'm always experimenting & it's a great way to keep yourself interested in playing and challenge yourself. I cannot stress enough how important music theory is and how much easier it can make your life. Having a great ear is very helpful but it's cool to be able to speak the language as well, it's easier to communicate with people you play with. I intend on doing some new videos soon for you tube so keep an eye out!!