Steel Guitar- 6 String Tunings

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An overview of the most commonly used 6 string tunings for lap steel & dobro guitars.

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  • Thank you for sharing, not only aesthetically pleasing but much useful presentation. I've decided to switch to E7 as E6 'unless competent – makes all songs sound very, very Hawaiian' indeed, :D
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Steel Guitar- 6 String Tunings

  1. 1. Steel Guitar History  Hawaii – Joseph Kekuku – 1900…. raised strings steel bar instead of fingers multiple string layouts multiple tunings
  2. 2. The Instrument  1 lump of wood (hollow or solid body) another long bit of wood (neck) bits of wire or markings across the neck (frets) 6, 7, 8, 10 or 12 strings (bits of wire) things to hold & tension the strings (bridge & tuners) 1 lump of metal, stone or glass (bar) finger picks on thumb & selected fingers (optional)
  3. 3. How Does It Work?  changing lengths of pre-tensioned bits of wire by using a “bar” playing one or more strings at the same time keeping the “bar” straight or slanting the bar backwards or forwards when playing multiple strings playing open strings on the guitar (no bar) bending strings before the bar using pedals and/or levers to change string tensions up or down notes can be generated acoustically &/or electrically
  4. 4. Why Steel Guitar?  easier to learn easier to play non conventional beautiful sounds multiple tunings all styles of music develop yourself & your view of the “musical landscape”
  5. 5. Tunings  multiple tunings exist some tunings are better suited to specific styles some tunings are better suited to different keys some tunings are better suited to the number of strings some tunings are better suited to different songs you will develop a favourite – but never get trapped in a single tuning…..
  6. 6. 6 String Tunings  the tunings presented in this course identify open strings from the highest pitched string (narrowest string) to the lowest pitched (widest) string all 6 string tunings will move continually from a highest to lowest string pitch a single set of strings can be re-tuned to support multiple tunings this approach supports both right & left-handed players invest in a quality tuner!
  7. 7. Open G Tuning  main dobro tuning, also used in early Hawaiian styles the 3 notes of G major chord (5 3 1) repeated D easy to play up or down an octave B G great for “hammer-on” styles D B switch between lap, dobro & banjo G
  8. 8. Open G Tuning (cont)  D B G D B G
  9. 9. Open A Tuning  same as Open G but a tone higher, very common in early Hawaiian styles the 3 notes of A major chord (5 3 1) repeated E easy to play up or down an octave C# A still great for “hammer-on” styles E C# A
  10. 10. Open A Tuning (cont)  E C# A E C# A
  11. 11. G Open Major Chords  of a C Chord at the fifth firstly we will use “inversions” fret (G Open Tuning) chords introduced here at the fifth fret also relate to A Open Tuning (the fifth fret would be a D chord) never underestimate the melodic power of inverted chords strive for clean picking, barring & damping…
  12. 12. Chord Exercise 1 1. C chord (C bass) – bar across fret 5 & play strings 4 5 & 6 together…… (C G E)2. C chord (E bass) – bar across fret 5 & play strings 3 4 & 5 together…… (E G C)3. C chord (G bass) – bar across fret 5 & play strings 2 3 & 4 together…… (G C E)4. C chord (C bass – up an octave ) – bar across fret 5 & play strings 1 2 & 3 together……(C G E)
  13. 13. Inversion Exercise  playing 2 beats on each practise these inversions by chord shape over a repeating 4 bar pattern as below…
  14. 14. Chord Exercise 11.  fret 5 play strings 2 3 & 4 C chord (G bass) – bar across together…… (G C E)2. C chord (C bass – up an octave ) – bar across fret 5 play strings 1 2 & 3 together……(C G E)Chord Exercise 1 practise these inversions by playing 2 beats on each one over a repeating 2 bar pattern…
  15. 15. Low Bass A Tuning A” tuning & once again, also known as “Hawaiian common in early Hawaiian styles (the A is not low, the E is!!!) supports easy fingerpicking using the bottom 3 strings alternating between the root & fifth E also used for G, D & E tunings C# A E strings 1 & 3 create a country “sixth” A E
  16. 16. Low Bass A Tuning (cont)  E C# A E A E
  17. 17. Low Bass G Tuning  D B G D G D
  18. 18. Low Bass E Tuning  B G# E B E B
  19. 19. Low Bass D Tuning  A F# D A D A
  20. 20. E Major Tuning E major – all strings  E minor (partial) – strings 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 G# minor (partial) – strings 2, 3 & 5 E bottom 3 strings for fingerpicking B G# E B E
  21. 21. E Major Tuning E B G# E B E
  22. 22. C6/A7 - 6 String Tuning  without bar slanting almost all chords can be played also very common in 8 & 10 string versions unless competent – makes all songs sound very, very Hawaiian E C each fret has a seventh & sixth A G each fret has a major & minor 7th E C#
  23. 23. C6/A7 Tuning E C A G E C#
  24. 24. C6 - 6 String Tuning  without bar slanting almost all chords can be played also very common in 8 & 10 string versions unless competent – makes all songs sound very, very Hawaiian – Jerry Byrd invention E C each fret has a major, 6th & minor 7th A G can play maj7ths & 9ths E C
  25. 25. C6 Tuning – 6 String  E C A G E C
  26. 26. C6 - Alt Tunings C6 Alternate tuning 1  E C A G C G C6 Alternate tuning 2 E C A G C E
  27. 27. E7 - 6 String Tuning  (use parts of 8 string great for normal guit players C6 set) – as top 3 strings are almost conventional can achieve an E9 pedal steel sound each fret has a major & 7th E G# minor (partial) – strings 2,3 & 6 B G# E neat for blues (G# down to G) D B
  28. 28. E7 Tuning – 6 String  E B G# E D B
  29. 29. G6 - Tuning 1  great for “Sleepwalk” G major G sixth D B E minor 7th G E B G
  30. 30. G6 - Tuning 2  Alternate 2 – sixth is now in a higher pitch (3rd string) G major & G6th E minor 7th B G E D B G
  31. 31. G6 - Tuning 3  Alternate 3 – great for conventional guitarists as only 1 string (string 5) varies from standard tuning Also known as Em (sic) or Em7 tuning E G major – strings 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 B G G6 – all strings D B Em7 – all strings (E minor 1,2,3,5,6) G
  32. 32. G9 - Tuning  G major - bottom 3 strings G9 - top 3 strings partial 4th chord (D) available (1,2,4) D A easier for E9 steel players G D B G
  33. 33. C13 - Tuning  C major chord - top 3 strings, C7th chord - top 4 strings C9th chord - top 5 strings E C13th chord - all strings C G Bb augmented – strings 3, 4 & 5 Bb D D7th chord – strings 2, 5 & 6 A
  34. 34. E13 - Tuning  sixth (C#) & 7 (D) give a 13 chord (sic) E major – strings 1, 3, 4 & 5 E 7th - strings 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 E C# E 6th – strings 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 B G# E 13th – all strings E D
  35. 35. C# Minor Tuning 1  as with open G tuning the chord (minor) is repeated over 2 octaves (appeared 1937 as first minor tuning) C#minor – all strings E E6th tuning – all strings C# G# C# major – strings 2, 3, 5 & 6 E C# G#
  36. 36. C# Minor Tuning 2  C#minor – all strings E6th tuning – all strings E major - strings 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 E C# fingerpicking on bottom strings G# E Jerry Byrd favourite B E
  37. 37. C# Minor 9 Tuning  C#minor – strings 1, 2, 3 & 5 – an Hawaiian tuning E6th tuning (partial) – strings 1, 2, 3 & 5 E major - strings 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 E C# C#minor 9th – all strings G# F# E9 (partial) – strings 1, 3, 4, 5 & 6 E D
  38. 38. F#9 - Tuning  F#9th – all strings F# major – strings 2, 5 & 6 E 6th chord - on top 4 strings E C# C# minor – on top 4 strings G# E G#9 – strings 3, 5 & 6 A# F#
  39. 39. B11 - Tuning  B major chord - on bottom 3 strings B 11th chord - all strings A major chord - top 3 strings E C# minor - strings 1, 2 & 4 C# A C#minor 7th - strings 1, 2, 4 & 6 F# D# C# often substituted on string 6 (Byrd) B
  40. 40. Closing  multiple tunings exist some tunings are better suited to specific styles some tunings are better suited to different keys some tunings are better suited to the number of strings some tunings are better suited to different songs you will develop a favourite – but never get trapped in a single tuning…..

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