Updated 03-01-00
Instrument illustrations courtesy of Lark In The Morning and the
Shrine To Music Museum
TUNING:

The strings are named low to high, i.e. in the mandolin tuning given, G D A E, the "G" is the lowest note, and the "E" is the highest. The strings are numbered with the highest pitched being #1 and proceeding thru the lowest string, which has the highest number....confusing, but traditional.

* Modern Instruments (standardized tunings):


Guitar Family:
Modern Guitar: E A D G B E
D A D G B D ("Double "D" " Good for modal ballads in "D")
D A D G B E ("Drop "D" ", good for stuff in "D")
D A D D A D (I use this one for simulating an Oud, for belly dance music)
D A D G A D (the popular tuning for Celtic music)
D G D G B D ("G" tuning, chorded like a 5-string banjo)
D A D F# A D ("D" tuning, played like the "G" tuning but with everything moved over one string worth)
E B E G# B E ("E" tuning, played like the "G" tuning but with everything moved over -two- strings worth)
"Terz" Guitar: G C F Bb D G
Requinto: G C F Bb D G
Vihuelita: C F Bb D G (the 4th string, the "F", is tuned an octave high in a ukelele style re-entrant tuning)
Tenor Guitar: G D A E (one octave lower than a mandolin)
D G B E (1st four strings of the modern guitar)
D G B E (same as above, with the 4th string tuned an octave high, in a re-entrant tuning)

To tune a guitar to "lute" tuning, use a Tenor Lute (see below) tuning from "E": E A D F# B E, for "old" tuning, or just leave it as it is, for "new" tuning.

Mandolin Family:
Mandolin: G D A E (same as violin)
Mandola: C G D A
Octave Mandolin: G D A E (one octave lower than a Mandolin)
Mando-Cello: C G D A (one octave lower than a Mandola)
Bouzouki: D A D A
D G B E
G D A E
D A F C
Others:


Older Instruments

(the tuning may or may not be these same tones, but the relationships between the strings will remain the same):


Oud: (Turkish style) D G A D G C
Standard Egyptian/Arab: D G A D G C
Old Turkish Classical: A D E A D G
New Turkish Classical: F# B E A D G
Turkish/Armenian: E A B E A D
Turkish/Armenian Variant: C# F# B E A D

Lute: "new" tuning: 8-course E# B A D G C# E A (descant tuning: see below)
"new" tuning (Virdung ca. 1500): G C F A D G (the "viel accord")(alto)
"old" tuning: 8-course E# B A D G C# E# A (descant tuning: see below)
"Sharp" tuning: G C F A C E
"Flat" tuning: G C F Ab C Eb
"Accord Nouveau": A D F A D F (17th Cent.)

Praetorius mentions the following tunings for various kinds of lute (note: 1st string only is given; string relationships remain the same):

Small octave Lute: D or C
Small descant Lute: B
Descant Lute: A
Choir or alto Lute: G
Tenor Lute: E
Bass Lute: D
Large octave bass Lute: G

Arch Lute: same as Descant Lute, with extra bass strings tuned descending diatonically
Theorbo: F G A B C D E F G C F A D G (or the same intervals one tone higher)
Arch Mandore: C G C G C
C F C F C
Mandora: C G C G C
C F C F C
Pandurina: G D G D
Bandora: C D G C E A
G C D G C E A

Opharion: G C F A D G
(a seventh course was added to the bass after 1600; it may also be tuned like a Lute)

Cittern: mandolin tuning: G D A E (same as Octave Mandolin)
D G B D (open "G", same as modern Plectrum banjo)
D G C D ("G Dorian mode")
five-course: G D G B D (open "G")
G D G B D (open "G", with the 5th string as a re-entrant, the same as a modern 5-string banjo)
C D G B D
A D G A D
A D G B E (same as Gittern)
D G D G D
A D A D A
A E A E A
D G D A E
Lafranco (1533): A C B G D E
Adrian LeRoy (1565): A G D E
Virchi (1574): D F B G D E
Cetarone (bass cittern): Eb Bb F C G D A
E B G D E
(a re-entrant tuning is also mentioned, but no intervals are given, by Agazzari in 1607)

Guittern: A D G B E (same as modern guitar, but without the low E string)
A D G B E (re-entrant: 4th string an octave high)
4-Course Guitar: Probably similarly to the 5-Course Guitar, but without the 5th string(s) (see below)
5-Course Guitar: ca. Mid-1500's
D D G B E (4th and 5th, "D", tuned in same octave as 1st, "E," in a re-entrant tuning)
A D G B E (5th string one octave lower than 1st thru 4th)
A D G B E (same as first five of modern guitar)
Vihuela de Mano: G C F A D G
C F Bb A D G
C F Bb A D G (note: tune to the same sound as a ukelele, with the 4th string, the Bb, in the next octave higher than the 5th and 3rd. This is known as a "re-entrant" tuning and is very period.)
You may also use any standard Lute tuning.

Cytole: D G B E (re-entrant: 4th string (D) in higher octave similar to the ukelele. I dare say you could use a tenor ukelele, or even a tenor guitar, to stand-in for this instrument.)
Mandora: G D G D (in bass range. A mando-cello will work here quite well)
Guitarra Moresca: I suggest tuning it like a Cittern, as the descriptions of it's sound from period Ms. would seem to indicate a "5th" relationship tuning.
Guitarra Latina: Probably tuned like a Cittern, or like a Cytole, but if you use a Cytole tuning, tune several tones lower.
Poliphant: Eight wire-strung courses tuned like a Lute, plus about 15 diatonic bass strings on a harp frame, similar to the Harp-Guitar of the early 1900's in the USA.
Stump: Seven wire-strung courses tuned in "old" Lute tuning, plus 8 open bass strings on a harp frame.

Remember that many of these instruments are strung in pairs of strings, with the strings of the pair tuned an octave apart. This is usually done on the "bourdon," or bass strings, for added clarity and volume.

On the odder relatives of the guitar, if the neck-to-bridge distance seems a little smaller than a guitar's, measure both of them! If this "scale" is shorter than a guitar's, it's very possible that the instrument needs to be tuned to a higher pitch. A short-scale instrument is meant to be tuned high, otherwise the strings will not have the correct amount of tension to adequately stress the soundboard, and thus will rattle, twang, and have no volume whatsoever.

To find out where to tune it, put the instrument beside a known instrument of similar design, with both bridges in line with each other. If the nut (the piece between the fingerboard and the peghead) on the unknown instrument is below the nut on the known instrument, then you must count the frets between the known's nut, on it's fingerboard, and the nut on the other instrument. The tones played on the nearest fret of the known to the other nut will work as a tuning guide for the other instrument. This may sound complex, but try it....it works just fine!

This does NOT apply to Lutes, however, and be VERY careful not to overstress the soundboard or the bridge, to avoid damage to the instrument due to over-tensioning the strings. Go carefully, and if you are using wire strings on any instrument, use the lightest gauge possible.

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