What do The Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, Jeff Buckley’s Last Goodbye and Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name have in common? All these iconic songs are played on the guitar in an alternate tuning.
An alternate tuning is any tuning in which the strings on the guitar are not tuned to the standard EADGBE. Alternate tunings open up a whole realm of possibilities for chord voicings and progressions which don’t fall easily to hand in standard tuning. Alternate tunings can give a chord progression or lick a signature sound that can’t be achieved in standard tuning. Many of Keith Richard’s most memorable progressions (Start Me Up, Brown Sugar, Honkytonk Women) are played in Open G tuning (DGDGBD) and just don’t sound the same any other way.
Open tunings can also be great for songwriters because simple shapes can be moved up and down the guitar neck, and open strings can be allowed to ring out or drone, creating interesting and unusual harmonies and voicings. (Read up on Joni Mitchell’s use of open tunings here).
The downside of all this is that, yes, you are going to have to do a lot of tuning and re-tuning your guitar, which can be a bit of a pain. And once you’ve written that killer new song that only sounds right in DADGAD tuning, you are going to have to take a second guitar to your next gig, or fuss around while re-tuning in front of your (increasingly restless) audience…
Enter the Roland G-5 VG Stratocaster. It is a beautiful Fender Standard Stratocaster with standard-spec single coil magnetic pickups. It is also a modeling guitar, with modeled Strat, Tele, humbucking and acoustic guitar sounds onboard. It also has the magical TUNING KNOB which means no messy out of tune strings, no broken strings and no extra guitars or disgruntled patrons at your next gig. Just turn the Tuning Knob to access Standard, Drop D, Open G, DADGAD, Baritone or 12-string tunings, and start playing in your selected alternate tuning.
Check out what our very own Matt Davis thought of the Roland G-5 here:
Have a listen to the modeled pickup sounds here:
Find out more about the Roland V-Guitar Stratocasters here:
Our staff favourites in alternate tunings:
Michael: She Talks to Angels – Black Crowes (Open E)
Bob: Acoustic: The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin (DGCGCD); Electric: March of the Fire Ants by Mastodon (AGCFAD)
Matt: It’s hard to go past Start Me Up (Open G) but I do really like The Rain Song (DGCGCD)
Jol: Shine – David Gray (Open E)
Hutcho: Rain song – Led Zeppelin or Kingdom – Devin Townsend (CGCGCE)
Nik: Cannibal Corpse – Evisceration Plague (Ab Db Gb B Eb Ab) \m/
Roland G-5 VG Stratocaster
Be The Boss of Your Guitar: Boss GP-10