What tuning should I use?
Since its inception the steel guitar has had probably as many variant tunings as performers over the years. Each individual tailoring the tuning of the instrument towards their strengths. This, if you are new to Steel guitars, may seem strange as its’ sister instrument the guitar has a common tuning that is recognised and used the world over.
Dobro G – This is the standard tuning used by majority Dobro pickers alike. One to be learned if Dobro is your goal.
C6th – The most popular tuning among Lap Steel Guitar players as there is not only a lot of practice materials but there are a number of advantages to this tuning. Major/Minors and slants for your sevenths. This tuning is the backbone of most western steel guitar sounds. However does sound Hawaiian/country if strummed and more advanced full chordal work is not possible.
E7th – A popular Sacred steel tuning. E7th is one of the earliest “standards” for Lap Steel Guitar tunings. However it falls severely short when it comes to chordal work but does put forth a very rhythmic strum called “Framming” – in the Sacres Steel Circles.
E9th – A more modern approach and quasi Pedal steel tuning used. Great for E9th Pedal Steelers making the switch to Lap Steel Guitar because they are tired of lugging around back breaking, heavy pedal steel guitars.
E13th – Developed by Jules Ah See. This is a great foray into understanding Universal Tunings especially if coming from the E7th/E9th version tunings before. It offers more advanced chordal accompaniments. Made for 8 string or more Lap Steel Guitars.
The Theory Tuning – Developed by Stefan Robertson. This CMaj13/Em11 Combination Tuning enables the player to achieve full chords and scales without too many string skips. It can be played in a 6/7/8/9/10/11/12 string version. The full 12 string version is recommended for entire complete chordal notes playing with the greates of ease. An extremely versatile tuning that enables solo playability, flexibility and diversity like the standard guitar.
Reece’s Tuning – Developed and Used by Maurice “Reece” Anderson this Dm11 /C6 Combination Tuning enables the player to achieve full chords and scales without too many string skips. At the core of this tuning is the extended C6th. An extremely versatile tuning that enables solo playability, flexibility and diversity like the standard guitar.
Leavitt Tuning – Developed by Bill Leavitt. Is often referred to as a very Jazzy tuning and offers many chord melodies in a straight bar position. However due to its interval layout doesn’t strum well and its easy to hit a few wrong notes if not careful.