Curt Golden - Guitar Instruction

overview    tunings    biography

A few words about tunings used for the guitar

I teach guitar using two different tunings:

  • The Guitar Craft standard tuning, also known as the New Standard Tuning (NST). C-G-D-A-E-G. This tuning emerged as an essential part of Guitar Craft from its inception in 1985, and is used exclusively in Guitar Craft and Guitar Circles. Notes regarding the Guitar Craft standard tuning, including string gauge recommendations, can be found at the end of this page.
  • The traditional standard tuning for the guitar. E-A-D-G-B-E. This is the familiar tuning which you will find in most method books and sheet music. Tunings such as "drop-D" are considered alternates or variations of this tuning.

It is important, in this context, to be clear that I do not require students to adopt one particular tuning or the other in order to study with me. The mechanics of playing the guitar are tuning-neutral, and so regardless of which you choose, we will spend a certain amount of time dealing with the basics in order to develop an intelligent and efficient technique. So are ear-training and music theory tuning-neutral. Only the specifics of application are different: fingerings for scales, arpeggios and chords.

notes on the Guitar Craft standard tuning

The Guitar Craft Standard Tuning from 6th to 1st (low to high) is:

C  -  down a major 3rd from the old low E
G  -  down a whole step from the old A
D  -  same as the old tuning
A  -  up a whole step from the old G
E  -  up a 4th from the old B, and
G  -  up a minor 3rd from the old high E

With the low end considerably lower and high end considerably higher, this can be hard on strings, at first. We use sets of strings gauged to accommodate this tuning. The recommended gauge for the acoustic guitar is 11p-13p-22w-32w-47w-58w (59w has become more common as well).  Your options include:

  1. There are commercial sets available in these gauges. I believe John Pearce still makes a set of Bronze wound strings labeled "New Standard Tuning" (Set #150) which is available through normal commercial channels ( A longtime Crafty has a relationship with D'Addario to produce sets called NSTrings, but they are only available on Guitar Craft and related courses and seminars.
  2. A standard light gauge set will do, but high strings occasionally break.
  3. A standard medium gauge set, with lighter gauge strings substituted for the 2 high strings to simulate the recommended gauges.
  4. A set put together out of single strings (this would be the expensive option).
  5. If you have a preferred make or brand of strings, most manufacturers will sell individual gauges in bulk (by the dozen) at a substantial discount, generally online through their own websites or through bulk string websites.

The consensus is not so well established on gauges for electric guitar. I have sets made for me using the gauges 08p-12p-15p-26w-42w-52w and it serves me well for my particular guitar and style. I tend to brutalize electric strings.



 updated: 09/22/2008