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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 4ths tuning or what, for folk flatpicking?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.flatpickerhangout.com/archive/48692

maxr - Posted - 02/07/2018:  06:27:21


Hi guys: I'm picking up guitar again after a 20 year break, and would appreciate some advice. I'm also a fiddler, and know 00's of European folk tunes - mostly Scottish, English Irish, French, etc., so not that different from bluegrass in some ways. I go to bar sessions where guys just fire off tunes and everybody joins in if they can. My idea is to become familiar with the guitar fingerboard again to the extent that I can think of a tune, or hear a simple new one, and flatpick it almost straight off on guitar. I hope also to develop slightly jazzy chordal accompaniment for these tunes and be able to comp those to accompany others, plus doing flatpicking arrangements with harmonies for some. I'm using a short scale steel strung parlour guitar for this that speaks very easily and doesn't mind frequent retuning.



With that in mind, it occurred to me that picking a tune by ear might be easier if my guitar is tuned consistently, and all 4ths tuning suggested itself. Because the intervals between string is consistent, playing a tune by ear should be easier. Is that a good idea, or do you have a better suggestion for this purpose?



Thanks, Max


Edited by - maxr on 02/07/2018 06:34:29

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 02/07/2018:  13:43:18


Well .... look into Western Swing backup .... keep the "B" string in the mix it adds flavor .... learn the fingerboard with an emphasis on playing in the keys of C and G and you can make that play "whatever" come a great deal more easily ..... all open strings are included in the keys of C and G. Capo usage in flatpicking is de rigueur ....... R/

maxr - Posted - 02/08/2018:  03:58:42


Thanks Richard - so you suggest I get the keys and chords down that work well in standard tuning, then use the capo to make them work for other keys. That sounds logical. I guess all 4ths tuning loses the B string character. Also, it seems like you'd then play a lot of 4 string chords, which loses the acoustic 'jangle' - even if it means you can deploy a limited number of moveable shapes anywhere across the fingerboard.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 02/08/2018:  06:10:51


If you look at flat picking as a style it depends on those three and four tone chord shapes to bear the load of position shifting and the open strings to ring out as part of that sound. You don't see many barre chords at flat picking contests. The truly advanced guitar instrumentalist will of course play both with and without capo in all the needed keys. I say needed as there are many horn keys that just don't enter into the 'grass experience. Generally European fiddle tunes come in the major keys of G, A and D. Yes before anyone jumps on me there are many exceptions . Gypsy minor key tunes being a stand out. One of my favorite fiddlers Kenny Baker played / penned a tune First Day in Town in Gm .... I play two fiddle tunes in Bd as well. And the list goes on. But on the guitar tunes "lay out" fluidly in the keys of G and C with the key of D coming in third place. Yes , again, any tune can be played anywhere in any key. But don't tell a budding fiddler that you are going to play Red Haired Boy in F. Riots have been started for less. Doubtless tuning in fifths is the bomb .... with the use of closed positions you can play anything anywhere. And I expect that was the thought at the start of this thread. To me more than anything the choice of a capo and it's use comes down to tone. You need the tone of those open strings to hang the tune on..... R/

maxr - Posted - 02/13/2018:  05:14:13


quote:

Originally posted by UsuallyPickin

But don't tell a budding fiddler that you are going to play Red Haired Boy in F. Riots have been started for less. And I expect that was the thought at the start of this thread. To me more than anything the choice of a capo and it's use comes down to tone. You need the tone of those open strings to hang the tune on..... R/






Thanks again - good stuff. Yeah, us fiddlers are not the best people to ask to transpose tunes, in fact most of us just don't do it. No excuses really, it's not that hard except when the tune relies on fast open string crossings. I hear what you're saying about capos, particularly as the guitar I'm currently playing has a dead flat fingerboard. I had a look at DADGBE 'drop D' tuning, and now I'm considering DADGAD, it seems like both are used a good deal for my purposes. Maybe DADGAD might make busking chord changes easier in folk keys.

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