Tao Of Tunings

Alternate Tunings for Guitar, by Mark Shark

G Tuning and the Spiderweb

G Tuning: D-G-D-G-B-D

This chapter introduces the concept I call the “spiderweb.” The connecting lines illustrate combinations that use the B string to represent thirds and sixths and their extended tenths and thirteenths.

I advise you to experiment with the paired strings, connected with lines, to discover the melodic scale intervals that occur within each tuning and each step of the scale. Try droning open strings while playing connected intervals up and down the neck in scales of thirds, sixths, tenths, and thirteenths, paying special attention to the shapes and the way they shift in G tuning.

I call the B string the pivot string. It represents the third of the major scale and is the key to connecting the root (G) and the fifth (D) degree strings. It is the central point of gravity that pulls the various intervals together and creates the magic tonal shapes. Pay special attention to the intervals that are created in combination with the B string as it is the only non-duplicated chord tone.

It is also helpful to realize that these spiderweb shapes repeat themselves, in exactly the same way, on the fretboard starting at various points according to the major scale they represent. For example, starting on the fifth fret for C major as compared to G major, the shapes shift accordingly from frets 0-12 in G major to frets 5-17 for C major. This is where a capo comes in handy.

To play comfortably in the key of C major (in G tuning, using open strings), capo at the fifth fret.

Keith Richards is probably the most well-known master of G tuning. Robert Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, and Jackson Browne frequently tuned G tuning up a whole step to A tuning (E-A-E-A-C#-E) and created endless amounts of beauty using the same shapes as G tuning, yet resonating a whole step higher.

Put on anything by these artists and be happy you have ears and fingers!

G Major (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G) – G Tuning


G Mixolydian (G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G) – G Tuning C Major, 5th mode