Keith Richards This article will explain the Nashville tuning used on many country music recordings as well as rock, pop and other styles. A good example of this tuning is the Rolling Stones tune “Wild Horses”. You can clearly hear it in the beginning of the song. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is another good example.

Mick Taylor

Ok, so the Nashville tuning is very basically a 12-string set of strings using only the higher octave strings on a 6-string guitar. The D’Addario Company makes two sets of strings for this application. A Phospher Bronze acoustic set EJ38H and a Nickel Wound electric set EXL150H. Both sets are designed for the Nashville tuning. String gauges are as follows:

EJ38H Set

E= .010 plain

B= .014 plain

G= .009 plain

D=.012 plain

A= .018 plain

E= .027 wound

EXL150H Set

E= .010 plain

B= .014 plain

G= .009 plain

D=.012 plain

A= .018 plain

E= .026 wound

The low E, A, D and G strings are tuned one octave higher like on the 12-string guitar. The B and high E stay the same. If you decide you would like to try the Nashville tuning or have one of your guitars dedicated for this you will have to have your guitar set up for the lower string tension than a standard set of strings. This usually involves a truss rod adjustment and intonation adjustment. For a guitar that will be dedicated for Nashville tuning it is best to have a new nut cut for the smaller gauge strings.

The advantages of this tuning really shine when recording. You can record a track with an acoustic guitar in standard tuning. On another track you can use a guitar with Nashville tuning. From there you can even build tracks going back to the standard guitar with a capo and then again with the guitar in Nashville tuning with a capo. The end result is a very lush, full sounding “acoustic guitar section”. You can pan each track slightly so they are not congested and on top of each other. This is routinely done on country music recordings. You may ask why not just use a 12-string guitar. The answer is in the panning and the slight “slurring” effect of two individual guitar tracks that are not exactly played by the musician each time. Plus each guitar has it’s own tone contributing to the complexity of the overall result.

If you have an acoustic guitar try stringing it this way and recording some tracks along with a standard tuned guitar. If you try it with an electric guitar get ready to create some new sounds. You will be surprised by the results!

Credit: D’Addario.

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