Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

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Smiling Hobo
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Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby Smiling Hobo » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:13 am UTC

Lately, I've been experimenting quite a bit with some crazy guitar tunings, most of them ripped off from Sonic Youth. All is fine...except a lot of the tunings I want to mess around with require tuning the strings to pitches above those of standard tuning. I tried out some of these tunings on my acoustic guitar, and snapped quite a few strings in the process. I haven't tried any of these alternate tunings with my electric guitar yet, but I'm sure I can expect similar results...so, I'm wondering, is there some sort of closely guarded secret to tuning strings above standard tuning without them breaking?

From my google searching, I've heard talk of different gauge strings, but I'm not really paritcularly sure what gauge to get, or if other factors affect string-snappage, or even how gauge factors into this at all. Obviously, I'm not the most guitar literate person in the world. :-/

Help would be appreciated.

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canoemoose
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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby canoemoose » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:26 am UTC

From what I've read/heard/etc, the usual trick is to use different gauge strings. Is there not a good shop you can go into and explain what you'd like to do and ask for advice? I'm not a guitarist, I'm a techie, but some of the bands I've done sound for have had guitars tuned in an interesting manner. The most common seems to be have the lower 3 strings tuned as normal, but the upper 3 an octave higher than usual.

Physcis tells me that a thicker gauge string can withstand a higher tension than a thinner string, so presumably the increase in pitch from increase in tension is greater than the decrease in pitch from increase in gauge.

YMMV!

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Smiling Hobo
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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby Smiling Hobo » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

I would think that lower gauge strings would be better, though...a B string can't be tuned as high as an e string, I'm assuming because the B string is thicker (that's probably a faulty assumption). Meh. There is actually a very good music store close by (really knowledgeable staff) that I could go to...I'm just kind of lazy and thought I'd ask here first. :P

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JBJ
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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby JBJ » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

If you are trying to tune more than 2-3 steps (whole notes) in either direction on a string, you're better off just restringing.
If you tune too much out of standard you'll be out of tune if you play higher up the fretboard.
There's a decent chart here that gives the gauge and tension for various tunings. If you're playing acoustic you'll probably want to go with the medium tension.
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Midnight
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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby Midnight » Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:17 am UTC

if you want to go higher, like tune up your low E up to a G.. then put an A there and drop it down to a G.

so use much thinner gauges and drop them down, i'm guessing.
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Miike
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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby Miike » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:43 pm UTC

canoemoose wrote:Physcis tells me that a thicker gauge string can withstand a higher tension than a thinner string, so presumably the increase in pitch from increase in tension is greater than the decrease in pitch from increase in gauge.


While I'm not 100% sure on this, I BELIEVE that the wind on lower gauge strings is actually more likely to come apart than a higher gauge string is to break. That's been my general experience, anyway - your mileage, et cetera.

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Re: Tuning Guitar Above Standard Tuning

Postby Smiling Hobo » Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:16 am UTC

Midnight wrote:if you want to go higher, like tune up your low E up to a G.. then put an A there and drop it down to a G.

so use much thinner gauges and drop them down, i'm guessing.
Alright, thanks.

For now, I think I'll just try using a capo to achieve the desired effect without throwing my guitar too out of wack. Thanks for the tips. :D

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