In this section we will discover other tuning variants that can be found in the three families: fifths-fourths, fifths-fifths and fourths-fourths.
One technical remark is valid for all the existing families: today, the first string cannot be thinner than .007 inches (0.17 mm). The upper note Eb5 – reached on the first string, last fret, of the Chapman Tuning – seems to be the upper limit. Further tension of this string leads to frequent break.
The bass string of .092R inches (2.34 mm), on the other hand, is present on nearly all tiptars. The C# it produces on the first row of the neck is hardly perceptible as a pitch and therefore constitutes a natural lower limit. Nevertheless there are players who tune the bass section a whole tone lower than standard using heavier gauges.
1.5.1 The tunings in fifths-fifths
The tuning in fifths-fifths, like the fourths-fourths, offers the distinctive advantage of being reflective, as opposed to the fifths-fourths. It is reflective in the sense that the graphical play of both hands is symmetry-identical. The tuning in fifths-fifths should appeal to violin and cello players, who were educated with this space.
Its inconvenience was already discussed in:0: permanent change of position when playing diatonic lines.
18.104.22.168 THE “CRAFTY” FIFTHS-FIFTHS VARIANTS
Some players, as Trey Gunn, have adapted the crafty tuning to two-regions tiptars. Here is one of their open tunings:
As you can see, the bass is tuned in fifths. One should observe that there is an interval of a third between the last two strings on the treble side This space is then no longer coherent, like a whole fifths space, and one should expect inconvenience in reading.
Recently, a family of players has added a second on top. With six strings, it would be C, G, D, A, C, D.
1.5.2 The Bowmer ‘best of both worlds’ tuning
Tuning word: “1>6 Bass 5ths LH (C0 G0 D1 A1 E3 B3) /// 6 Mel 4ths RH (D3 A2 E2 B1 F#1 C#1) < 12 ”
During the E-Tap Seminar 1999, Dave Bowmer developed with the help of Kuno Wagner, an interesting tuning combining the crafty world with the easyness of melody in fourths.
We quote his words (Email to the author September 1999) : ” I am taking your advice and changing today to uncrossed on my 12 string and reverting to 4ths in the melody in the RH on the RHS of the fret-board as seen from the player. I will retain 5ths in the bass to be able to do my crafty work, by tuning as follows I actually get a 7 string inverted crafty tuning in the bass side, good for the 2 handed combined mono style, as the interval between the 6th and 7th strings provides the minor 3rd on top of the 5ths as per crafty, while for stereo 2 hand independent playing I get 6 melody strings in 4ths and 6 bass in 5ths uncrossed – so quite a good solution for my special requirements with a single instrument I think.”
Here is the Bowmer’s tuning seen from the audience:
Table 1-16 The ‘best of both worlds’ tuning. It has uncrossed fifths in the bass, fourths in the melody. The M1 can serve as the ‘crafty’ third on top of the bass.
One will notice that string 7, tuned D3 is actually one third over B2. Therefore providing the third needed for stepping in the Crafty world. In the point of view of a crafty player, the tuning word could also be rewritten as: 1 > 7 bass 5ths (C0 G0 D1 A1 E3 B3 D3) /// 5 Mel 4ths RH ( A2 E2 B1 F#1 C#1 ) < 12
1.5.3 The experimental tunings
The tiptar is an ideal tool of experimentation for all kinds of new tunings. We may classify these tunings into two broad categories: Tonal tunings and coherent interval tunings.
The tonal tunings involve various intervals between strings. For instance, there will be two fourths, then a third, then another fourth. They often reflect a performer’s desire to facilitate the playing in one tonality, or just one song. (In analogy, the open guitar is an E-min tonal tuning.)
An interesting subclass or experiment is the micro-tonal tuning. Some strings are tuned a few cents up or down to simulate quarter-tones, acoustic or micro-intervals. With an electronic tuner, the author managed to reproduce approximately the Euclidean or Zarlino scales.
The coherent interval tunings are a family of logical spaces made entirely of one interval: the fourths-fourths and fifths-fifths tuning are of this sort. In terms of mathematics, we might call these spaces: map-pings of the Cartesian space. They are logical, without surprises.
The reader might also experiment with the following coherent tunings: all in tritones, all in sixths, all in thirds. In the coherent spaces, it is interesting to experiment with geometric figures: polygons of all sorts played on the coherent instrument also sound “polygonal”.