David Gilmour used a special tuning for the rhythm guitar in the song Comfortably Numb. It was a regular EADGBE, but the lowest two strings were two octaves higher, and the middle two were one octave higher.

I now want to adopt this setup on an old acoustic guitar. The G, A and B strings leave me confused though. If I use a regular E string for this, I'm quite sure it will snap when I try to tune it this high.

Is there a brand that sells strings suitable for this? Or any different options, without needing to use a capo?

  • Isn't this a bit like a 12-string with only the doubled higher octave strings?
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 10:19

5 Answers 5


There are Nashville strings intended for similar usage. Other manufacturers than D'Addario likely has similar strings. You want two octaves higher on the E and A though, so it seems making your own set like Tim suggests is the way to go in this specific case.

  • Alternatively, buy a 12-string set, and separate out the strings that correspond to a regular 6-string set. The remaining strings are a Nashville set. David Gilmour's practice of going even further and raising the low E another octave is actually mentioned here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_tuning_(high_strung) Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 13:22

Given that the bottom E and A are two octaves higher,a .010 and .007 will tune to that. The middle two, one octave higher, will need .014 and .008, and the top two, as standard can be .012 and .010. All I've done is calculate each string as a close approximation to a standard open guitar string, given its open pitch. These can be changed by about 10% either way, depending on the guitar and your preferences. I think the Nashville set is only one octave up on the bottom 4, judging by the gauges, and will make it sound similar to a 12 string. The one thing that makes a 12 string sound like it does is the high 3rd string, higher than the rest, but in the middle of the sound.I'm sceptical about the 'low' E and A, though.

Strings can be bought separately at a small premium. I use a weird combination, not available as a set, so tend to buy several of each, to make up my own sets.

Addendum - consensus is that the bottom string is 2 octaves up, but 5,4 and 3 are one octave up - so the gauge for the A will be around .018. That's if my research has found the truth !

  • This will probably work, but standard thin a and g strings will certainly be very fragile: going to thinner gauges only reduces the total tension (force on the pegs), but not the actual material tension the steel has to endure. What you'd really need is strong, but more lightwight materials than steel; titanium ought to work very well (obviously not for electric guitars though). Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 16:21
  • Yeah, this is a good answer based on the knowledge that we can predict the pitch for a given gauge and tension - so pick a typical guitar tension, and choose the gauge that will give the desired pitch at that tension. But you also need to know whether the string will withstand that tension, and that's not specified in the D'Addario catalogue at least.
    – slim
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 16:24
  • @slim - Given that, say a plain .010 string on a standard length guitar will be at a reasonable tension when tuned to E, then it will go to a G without too much problem. So, using a .008 has to be pretty close in tension to a 'normal' string, when tuned to G. That was my reasoning behind it. I guess twice the tension = twice the pitch.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 16:32

I play seven string guitar, and in the seven string community there are those guitarists who prefer a high A over a low B. One such fellow got tired of the lack of options and started making custom very-thin strings. His website is Octave4plus.com

  • "like to keep going up?" A high C# (I think) above high A would be really difficult, I think. Most people who play 8s do BEADGBE + a high A, AFAIK. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 14:12
  • @SohamChowdhury You may be right. I'm in the low crowd so I don't pay enough attention to what people are doing up there. Regardless, there is a way to get high A strings. Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 14:17

The Nashville tuning, there are strings for this, you can read all about it here http://www.wikihow.com/Tune-Your-Guitar-to-Nashville-Tuning


The string company Stringjoy suggests .012 .016 .009 .014 .018p.028 EBGDAE for acoustic instruments in Nashville Tuning . The hard one is the .009 for the G, which is higher and thinner than the high E. The high E is near the ends of material science; in 1988, Fender made a high-A Strat for Alex Gregory, but the A thinner than a .009 E tended to break. We have a string tuned a minor third above the high E of many electric guitars. This seems dicey, but that is what you see in standard 12-string sets.

Beyond that, you have a .014 for a D, a plain .018 for the A and a .028 for the low E, which don't seem wrong to me. I'd be inclined to use a normal G at .020 or .022 myself.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.