In part one of our complete guide to alternative tuning for baritone guitar, we explored B and A standard tunings (perfect fourth and perfect fifth standard), multiple open major chord tunings, and Pat Metheny’s, “Half Nashville” baritone tuning.
Well, I hope your tuning pegs are rested, because we’re back with another tour de force of peg-twisting alternative tunings for your baritone. If you are ready to spark your creativity, expand your sonic horizons, and get out of that musical rut, let’s dive into our first tuning.
Double Drop A (or G) Tuning
Double drop tuning can be thought of as the slightly more musical cousin to the popular drop D tuning. To achieve double drop tuning, simply lower the 1st and 6th strings one full step. On a B standard (AKA, perfect fourth) tuned baritone, this means dropping your first and sixth strings down to A. On an A standard (AKA, perfect fifth) tuned baritone, this means dropping your first and sixth strings down to G.
This tuning is wonderful for adding color and distinctiveness to otherwise simple chord progressions. Try it with any progression featuring open chord voicings, anything in the key of A (or G, if tuning down from a baritone in A standard tuning), or any fingerpicking number that you have enjoyed in drop D tuning on your standard guitar.
If you are not familiar with drop D tuning chord shapes, don’t worry. Most chord shapes crossover from standard tuning to drop tuning with minimal adjustments. Just keep in mind that 1) you will need to transpose the letter names of these chords while playing on your baritone and 2) you will need to occasionally let your high A or G ring to take full advantage of double drop tuning.
Easy Double Drop Tuning (AKA, No Tuning Pegs Needed Double Drop Tuning)
With the right model of capo, you can achieve double drop tuning in seconds with no tuner and nary a single twist of the tuning pegs. My favorite model for taking advantage of this shortcut is the Kyser brand “Quick Change” capo. With the Kyser Quick Change, double drop tuning becomes a cinch. Simply attach the capo upside down, so the rubber brace that typically grips the back of the neck is on strings 2 through 4 (see picture) and achieve instant double drop tuning.
A E A D E A (AKA, Bari DADGAD)
DADGAD tuning has been a folk and fingerpicking staple of the standard guitar world for years. However, the open note drone tones it facilitates sound just as great (if not better) on a baritone. To achieve Bari DADGAD tuning on an a B standard (perfect fourth) tuned guitar, make the following adjustments:
To get a feel for the tonal possibilities of A E A D E A (Bari DADGAD), try a simple exercise of moving your index finger to create the following chords (see graphic below). First, strum your way through. Then, finger pick your way through the chords.
Open A Tuning (revised edition)
In our last article, we offered instructions for achieving open chord tunings. However, I have come to the conclusion that my previous offering was way too complex. With that in mind, I believe slide guitar players and fans of early Mumford and Son’s albums will love this tuning. When the open strings are played, you get an instant A-major chord. Bar straight across the fretboard anywhere on the guitar and you get another major chord. Move your bar through a I - IV - V progression, and you’ve got the beginnings of some delta-inspired blues.
To achieve open A tuning on a B standard (perfect fourth) tuned baritone, take the following steps:
Of course, you can follow the same instructions for a baritone tuned to A-standard (perfect fifth) tuning. The resulting tuning will be open G. It should be noted that not all baritones will handle open G tuning well. Some models may display excessive string buzz once you go this low.
We hope you've enjoyed our second guide to alternative tuning for baritones. If you haven't already done so, check out part one of our guide. Once you have the chance to try out these tunings, we'd love to hear from you. Please tell us about your own alternative tuning experience in the comments section. Also, if you enjoyed this post, check out our growing list of baritone electric reviews andacoustic reviews.
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