I realize this requires having multiple guitars.

I'm personally aiming to use 3 different and diverse tunings for my band, but my bassist seems to differ. Obviously I'm gonna buy more guitars. :) He should too.

But that would require having 4+ guitars on stage?

How do people generally deal with this? You constantly have to plugin/unplug instruments, it's kind of tricky. Are there any fast ways to switch on stage?

Update: i need more guitars because some tunings revolve around drop D, but some C standard. Don't wanna mess my guitar setup.

  • 1
    Why do you need to change your tuning so many times? Also as a side note if it's not an exotic tuning like Open G a capo might come in handy.
    – Dom
    Mar 13, 2014 at 13:50
  • 1
    Take a look at the Line 6 Variax (no endorsement intended, though I do like them). They have fully programmable tunings which you can recall with a knob on the guitar or foot switch.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 13, 2014 at 14:48
  • Well, your bassist is primarily playing notes, not chords, so retuning is far less of an issue. <-- assuming your "retuning" is defined as changing the open-string pitches, not the note frequency (e.g. A = 440 to A= 434) Mar 13, 2014 at 14:50
  • I've updated the question. Mar 13, 2014 at 15:44
  • 1
    you don't need multiple guitars, you can get an AutoTuner for guitar which can re-tune for you instantly. Mar 13, 2014 at 15:52

3 Answers 3


In practice I've come across 4 solutions for using several different guitars (that need to go into one amp, I suppose):

  • use a router switch (e.g. this one). In this case you use one cable per guitar.
  • use a mute pedal (you could use a tuner pedal which mutes the output when switched on). Here you would use the same cable for all guitars.
  • use a volume pedal set to silent when changing guitars (as already suggested in Alexander Troup's answer). Also here you would use the same cable for all guitars.
  • go wireless: one bodypack (transmitter) per guitar and one receiver for all.

EDIT: BTW, if it's only about dropping the low E to D, you can also use something like the Sperzel "D-Thing" Tuner.

  • Great! I like all the options but the router switch. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:16

Depending on what you're willing to spend, there are a few auto tuning devices that can be used on one guitar which re-tunes Extremely fast, but I've not looked into them so it's worth more research on each one.

As far as Jacks, you can get some magnetic switchers that might come in handy. Or you could go for the classic where you just switch leads. You could get a volume pedal to turn to 0 before every switch too, making it indiscernible.

I think you can also get wireless switchers where you have multiple jacks (one per guitar) and a channel switcher on the amp.

Hope that gives some ideas :)

  • I just looked into the magnetic switchers that you linked to and I don't believe they are actually for sale by Belkin. I couldn't find anything other than a press release. However, I did find these aliexpress.com/w/wholesale-magnetic-guitar-cable.html Sounds like a great idea that I may need to purchase at some point. Mar 13, 2014 at 14:24
  • Silent jacks - used them for years - made by Neutrik. They turn off as you plug/unplug.Buy attached to a lead, or replace on a ready made lead.
    – Tim
    Mar 13, 2014 at 15:49
  • @Tim I'll have to try them out! Mar 13, 2014 at 15:51
  • I use several,on stage, and in the studio. They are also invaluable for teaching, in that each student doesn't wreck my speakers at changeover time !
    – Tim
    Mar 13, 2014 at 15:54
  • I like the silent jack idea, guys. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:15

The old folksinger Joni Mitchell had about 55 tunings that she would regularly use in performance. When she no longer wanted an 18-wheeler to carry 55 guitars on tour she went to the Roland VG-8 guitar processing system which stored all her guitar tunings. Joni Mitchell would play on a strat so under monitored situations the difference between the way that the strings are really tuned and how they come out of the unit wouldn't be so bad. (Source: http://www.jonimitchell.com/library/view.cfm?id=38)

The Roland guitar processor is now up to the VG-99 (http://www.rolandus.com/products/details/849/specs/) but try before you buy. The last time I tried a VG, there was some latency on the low notes and I really didn't like the electronic sound of the notes produced. But to each his own.

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