Contents GDAE AEAE AEAC# GDAD DDAD

             

Fiddle tunings

The traditional fiddle players represented in Dear Old Illinois sometimes used alternative fiddle tunings, and on this page you can learn about them.

Tunings and string numbers

First, it should be noted that tunings read the sensible direction, left to right when facing the front of a fiddle whose neck is pointing the upward direction. Thus, standard tuning is GDAE, not EADG.

To head off confusion, note that this is not in accord with the numbering of strings, which, for reasons anyone of sound mind can only imagine, read right to left, starting with 1 on the right. In addition to the afflicted left-right orientation, this also means the string numbers ascend as the respective pitches of the strings descend.

So, conventional string numbering is undeniably backwards. This is pointed out in the guitar section as well; the string numbering for guitars follows the same woefully backwards convention. Until the seemingly inevitable happens and this is changed, we're stuck with it. Meanwhile, tunings read left to right.

GDAE (standard tuning)

The majority of fiddle pieces represented in the book are played in standard GDAE tuning.

Changing the tuning also changes some or all of the unison notes, as noted below. For standard tuning, they are D on the G string (4th finger), A on the D string (4th finger), and E on the A string (4th finger.)

Go to: AEAE AEAC# GDAD DDAD

AEAE

AEAE tuning is used for some pieces in the key of A. From standard GDAE tuning:

The G string is tuned up to A, and

The D string is tuned up to E.

The unison notes are E on the G (low A) string (4th finger), A on the D (low E) string (3rd finger), and E on the (regular) A string (4th finger; same as standard tuning.)

Go to: GDAE AEAC# GDAD DDAD

AEAC#

Another key of A tuning, to get to AEAC# tuning from standard GDAE tuning:

The G string is tuned up to A, and

The D string is tuned up to E, and

The E string is tuned down to C#.

The unison notes are E on the G (low A) string (4th finger), A on the D (low E) string (3rd finger), and C# on the (regular) A string (2nd finger.)

Go to: GDAE AEAE GDAD DDAD

GDAD

GDAD tuning accommodates some pieces in the key of G. From standard GDAE tuning:

The E string is tuned down to D.

The unison notes are D on the G string (4th finger; same as standard tuning), A on the D string (4th finger; same as standard tuning), and D on the A string (3rd finger.)

Go to: GDAE AEAE AEAC# DDAD

DDAD

DDAD is used for some pieces in the key of D. From standard GDAE tuning:

The G string is tuned down to D, and

The E string is tuned down to D.

The unison notes are A on the D string (4th finger; same as standard tuning), and D on the A string (3rd finger.) Note that there is no unison note for the G string. To bring it in unison with the D string, it would need to be fingered at the octave, which is not practical. However, its 4th finger A note can be put to use occasionally.

Go to: GDAE AEAE AEAC# GDAD