Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tennessee Waltz in D tuning

Thought I might do a post on D tuning.

For those unfamilliar with D tuning it is when your banjo is tuned to an open D chord (standard tuning, g D G B D, is an open G chord).

There are 2 common open D tunings: a D F# A D and f# D F# A D The two D tunings are actually the same for all strings except the 5th. The 5th can be tuned up (or capoed) to an A or tuned down to an F#. For this particular arrangement I tune the 5th string to A.

I like D tuning for alot of reasons. Having the root note of the chord on the lowest note of the lowest string is somehow very satisfying to me and certain melodies come out easier/ nicer in the D tuning.

On the downside if you are more familliar with G tuning (almost all bluegrass players are) the D tuning can feel counterintuitive and cumbersome. I find that in some ways the lack of easy familliarity with D tuning can act as a catylyst for creative playing--the old standby licks aren't as readily available so you are put in a position where you are forced to develop a modified toolkit and/or modified vocabulary.

The arrangement I'll show in this post is 'Tennesse Waltz'. I find the melody fits well in D tuning and overall the song possesses a certain timeless beauty.

Here's the tab...

And here's a video...

Hope that is helpful to some.



  1. Hey Devon, you've abandoned your blog!? Just had a quick question for you - how terrible are Hondo guitars? Specifically an acoustic H125B?


  2. Hi MaryAnne,

    No, I haven't abandoned the blog. Our digital camera got toasted by a son of mine and we've only very recently got a replacement so I'll be getting some new video and posts up soon.

    As for the Hondo; I've had limited first hand experience with Hondo guitars but from what I've gathered they are not so good. You can check this link for some thoughts on the Hondo and the H125B

    Let me add that even though the reputation of Hondo may be somewhat spotty it is possible you might find one that plays and sounds great. Every individual instrument is different and sometimes you get a surprise.

    Hope that helps and hi to all