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Old 01-04-2018, 10:34 AM
Romo Fingers Romo Fingers is offline
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Default Harp Newby-Sub Bass Tunings-Recommendations

After years of being fascinated by the Harp Guitar, I am finally in the position to make it happen! An Emerald Synergy X20 is on it's way!

I realize that it will take a quite a bit of experimentation on my part to play my new instrument, but wanted to gain the group's insights and recommendations for tuning the sub-bases.

My playing style on a standard guitar includes many tunings currently. Although I use Standard tuning, I'm often in DADGAD, Drop D, CGCGCD, CGDGAD, Open G, Open D.....

Are there specific recommendations that experienced Harp Guitar players recommend for Sub Bases, given the tunings I most often use?


Optimally, I realize that the tuning should correspond to the key of the song, but perhaps I am overthinking this!

Any guidance would be terrific! Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:44 PM
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JeffreyAK JeffreyAK is offline
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I've been using 3 lately, the first on my S18 and the next two on my S12, all low-high.

1) Main DADADE, bass FF#GABC (all tuned down one half-step, which would be a half-step higher than your CGCGCD).
2) Main DADGCE, bass EFGABC.
3) Main DAFGCE, bass FGABfBC (all tuned down one half-step).

I've played with DADGAD as well, but not lately. I forget what the bass tunings were, but I do change bass tunings from time to time even with the same main guitar tuning.

{Edit, just in case it's not clear, I don't tune to the notes listed in (1) and (3), I tune a half-step down from these notes. It's just easier to write these than deal with all the sharps and flats! These are what I would tune to if I wasn't worried, in those two cases, about putting too much tension on the guitar and on some of the strings}
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Last edited by JeffreyAK; 01-05-2018 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:51 PM
Romo Fingers Romo Fingers is offline
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Thanks, Jeffrey! Makes sense!
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Old 01-04-2018, 06:06 PM
Teleplucker Teleplucker is offline
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There is no real standard, but players are generally divided into "Bennett" tuning and then other camps. I came into the HG world via the music of Stephen Bennett and he has a lot of transcriptions available so I went with his tuning.

Generally it is G A B C D G low to high. Common variations are F A Bb C D G

E A B C D G and so on. Having a high open G is very convenient on a lot of tunes. The players that use the other tunings certainly do well also.

My main HG has 7 subs and sharping levers so I typically use E G A B C D G. My low E goes to F with lever up, I keep B lever up and drop it to give me a Bb when I need it.

Stephen Bennett has two DVDs on harp guitar, they are very helpful getting you started regardless of which tuning you use.

Good luck in your journey, it's a great instrument
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Old 01-04-2018, 06:29 PM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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I can't help with tuning, because I'm a couple steps behind you -- I'll be ordering my first harp guitar soon once I make a decision.

However, I just wanted to say congratulations and please post again to let us know how you like it.

Also thanks to the folks who posted those tunings. GABCDG sounds like a lot of fun. I will probably start with that one, once I upgrade my harp guitar status to noob!
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:34 AM
Romo Fingers Romo Fingers is offline
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Thank you for the input, Randall! Heavily inspired by Stephen Bennett, Muriel Anderson, etc. Also inspired by Michael Hedges and Andy McKee, however I guess that their sub tunings reflect the very unconventional tunings they utilize.

Looks like I am in for an adventure, but the Stephen Bennett tunings look like a good place to start!
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Old 01-06-2018, 12:48 AM
rogthefrog rogthefrog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romo Fingers View Post
Thank you for the input, Randall! Heavily inspired by Stephen Bennett, Muriel Anderson, etc. Also inspired by Michael Hedges and Andy McKee, however I guess that their sub tunings reflect the very unconventional tunings they utilize.

Looks like I am in for an adventure, but the Stephen Bennett tunings look like a good place to start!
FWIW my most recent harp guitar tune is D F D G A D (guitar, low to high) and D E F G A Bb (harp, low to high).
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Old 01-06-2018, 05:01 AM
philjs philjs is offline
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I've looked into sub-bass tunings because I'm a DADGAD player who uses a lot of partial capos which results in quite a number of odd "open" or at least "effective" tunings. I decided that I would absolutely have to have a full set of sharping levers. Working high to low (down, pitch-wise) from the low D of DADGAD the sub-basses, with sharping levers, would cover C/C#, Bb/B, G#/A, F#/G, E/F and D/Eb. Sharping levers would make it so much easier than having to re-tune those strings to suit each tuning, especially when I go out of my way to NOT have to tune the DADGAD strings!

One recent innovation that I've been intrigued by is the Pitch-Key. This could be an elegant solution to re-tuning the sub-basses. It would need a nut post installed for each sub-bass string but not require any other modification to the instrument. Problem is that they're not making them for anything larger than a .054 string...

Phil
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