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How would you tune your guitar in EADGBE where the THINNEST string is closer to your CHEST and the THICKEST is closer to your BELT? Not in a Hendrix way, that is inverted. I mean regular EADGBE, with EAD trebles and GBE wound.

  • Oh okay. I just edited my answer based on my better understanding what your intentions were. You are going to tune the first string just like the first string only instead of the thinnest string it will be the fattest one. The second string will now be the second fattest string and you will use the A string from a standard set of strings but tune it like the b string and etc. That way you can play normal chord shapes and just get a type of inversion of the chord. Cool. – Rockin Cowboy Nov 18 '15 at 4:03
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I haven't done it as described with the basses and trebles reversed, but I do have one old electric guitar in what I'd call high tuning (I think some people call this "Nashville" tuning). I tune it to EADGBE but all six strings are trebles taken from two sets.

With this the "EAD" are plain unwound strings and are an octave higher than standard (and what was the "bottom" E is 2 octaves higher). There's no bass sound at all, but it is pleasant to just sit and strum chords.

Ideally you would adjust the intonation of the bridge to compensate for the thinner strings - easy enough on electric. But that's a different subject.

(Bonus - plain strings are cheaper than wound. So it's not expensive to try this out, just go to your local guitar shop and buy six single strings.)

  • This still works on the premise of standard tuning. The OP is talking about the opposite way round. – Tim Nov 18 '15 at 8:18
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    I believe the OP is still talking about EADGBE, top of neck to bottom, but in different octaves. Not so far from what I've described. But I'll wait for further hints. – Andy Nov 18 '15 at 8:37
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I am not aware of anyone who has tried taking a standard right hand guitar and reversing the strings so that the bass and treble strings are on opposite sides of the fretboard - to still play it right handed. Although it might create some interesting inversions of chords. It would certainly sound unusual, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. But there will be some challenges.

To do so would require customizing the guitar in most cases. You would need a different nut because the slots in a standard nut are cut to accommodate the standard bass near ceiling treble near floor orientation. Also, on an acoustic the saddle would need to be reconfigured and tilted the other way to properly compensate for differences in intonation.

This change in orientation with the highest notes closer to the ceiling would require you to make adjustments in your playing technique. For example, if you played solos on the thinner strings (easier to bend) most of your bends would be down instead of up - so your playing style would be reversed. Ascending solo runs would require movement in the opposite direction than normal.

Actually if you already play, it might be easier to accomplish this effect by learning to play left handed with a right hand guitar. You are going to have to re-learn much of the way you currently play anyway - and it might be easier to teach your uninitiated/untrained right hand to become the fretting hand in this completely new configuration. Furthermore you would not have to alter the guitar.

I suppose it might offer an interesting contrast to the standard configuration. Downstrokes on chords would sound like upstrokes and vice versa. There would be an alternate tuning effect due to the notes normally found in the bass of the chords are now higher. So most chords would be some type of inversion. If you have the patience to learn to play this inverted string arrangement then perhaps you can create some very unique and interesting sounding music.

Good luck with that!

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    It seems like you could still play all the same chord shapes -- they'd sound quite different, but would still contain the same notes (by name, not frequency). And I could be wrong but I don't think the direction of the bends matters, other than maybe a slight difference in which pickups the string vibrated over. Good points otherwise! – delete me Nov 17 '15 at 20:43
  • I have a classical guitar with a non-tilted bridge (it works by lifting the string) and the slots on the nut don't seem to be an issue. Neither do chords because Matt is right, the notes would be the same, just in different frequencies. However... My main concern is string tension. e treble - E slot tuned to e -» fine B treble - A slot tuned to a -» good G treble - D slot tuned to d -» ??? struggle For now, I left the D and the G strings in their original position, and changed the others, but it sounds a bit off. – user24708 Nov 17 '15 at 22:59
  • @MatthewRead Oops. Just re-read the question. You are correct about the chord fingerings. I was thinking he would tune each string the same but just in a different spot. But it appears from more careful reading that he will tune the b string like the A string would normally be tuned. Hmmm – Rockin Cowboy Nov 18 '15 at 3:47
  • @user24708 - Sorry - I guess I didn't read carefully about how you would tune the strings. I need to edit my answer. – Rockin Cowboy Nov 18 '15 at 3:48
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    Bends are achieved using up, or down stretches, depending on the player. Except thinnest E, which usually gets pushed towards the centre of the fretboard. Going outwards will push the string off the neck. – Tim Nov 18 '15 at 8:21
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Replace the lower BE with CF and you have a tuning in perfect ascending 5ths, similar to the New Standard Tuning (which goes up in 5ths from C but the last string is only up a minor 3rd, in G instead of B).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_standard_tuning

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In principle:

Take a left-handed guitar strung for standard tuning.

Tune it slightly differently, EBGDAE thickest to thinnest.

Play right-handed.

In practice:

It may strain the neck to tune a string up in pitch.

So you can either put different strings on, or tune down to an equivalent of EBGDAE. such as DAFCGD.

[Edit: Since the F and C are still higher than standard, you may want to go lower and/or replace the fourth string. For experiments, nylon-core wound strings may tolerate being tuned down better than metal/metal-core strings. They also would be less damaging in general on the neck if tuned higher than standard, but then that might be something to do on your own, rather than borrowed, guitars and only if you are comfortable with the risk.]

Capo if you like.

Searching for EBGDAE on the internet may show interesting things, including the fact that someone appears to [edit: to be presenting themselves as if they ] have it as their surname.

If any left-handed players play right-handed guitars "upside down" and have used this tuning then they have done what you are suggesting.

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