View Full Version : DDAE tuning

Sep-26-2006, 8:37am

I just read Mike Compton's latest blog entry where he mentions DDAE* tuning. I gave it a try on my Kimble A0 and boy is that a fun tuning! Great to just noodle around on.

Does anybody know of any mando recordings employing this tuning or fiddle recordings (maybe some of John Hartford's later stuff?) How about some transcriptions to give some ideas?

Thanks in advance.

* EDIT: the tuning should read DDAD

Sep-26-2006, 8:58am
I never ran into that particular tuning, but I worked with a fiddle player many yrs ago who used the tuning of ADAE to play the 3rd part of Black Mountain Rag so he could doublebow on it using open strings. I've never tried it on the mandolin. Has anyone?


Jim M.
Sep-26-2006, 9:59am
Bruce Molsky, Reyna Gellert, and Brittany Haas are some of my favorite contemporary old time fiddlers who use a lot of cross-tunings, and they specify in the liner notes what they are using. If you want to go further back, Tommy Jarrell used lots of cross-tunings that are specified in the liner notes.

Dan B. uses some cross-tuning on his "Shatter the Calm" CD,and Ale Moller also uses cross-tunings on his mandola, but I can't remember if they use DDAE.

I haven't seen much DDAE in my fiddling experience, though there is a lot of DDAD.

David M.
Sep-26-2006, 11:15am
Seen lots of DDAD, but don't know about DDAE much. The first set of tunes on Songs from the Mountain by Tim O., Dirk, and John have this tuning. I think it's also called "dead man's tuning". Bonaparte's Retreat and Midnight on the Water use this tuning.

Another good one for D tunes is a "high bass" or ADAE tuning, so raise the G up to an A. I got this tuning from Kirk Sutphin when he does Old Virginia Reel.

Sep-26-2006, 12:51pm
I was once at a jam at started noodling on "Washington's March", which is the 2nd tune in the Powell/O'Brien/Hermann medley mentioned above in DDAE. A fiddler instantly perked up and requested a moment to retune his fiddle to DDAE and we did the Washington's March/Bonaparte's set. Since the low D string (I think) is used only as a drone,, the ADAE tuning is a bit easier substitute on fiddle, though I've never tried a non-standard tuning on mandolin.

Rayna Gellert's great tune Swannanoa Waltz is also tuned either DDAE or ADAE.

Sep-26-2006, 3:11pm
I made a mistake: the tuning is actually DDAD. Which now makes alot more sense. I'm going to check out some of the recordings mentioned.

Thanks for the info.


Shana Aisenberg
Sep-27-2006, 6:34am
Bonaparte's Retreat, Washington's March, Midnight on the Water are all classic DDAD tunes. A couple of others I like are Cluckin Hen (or some title close to that name) played by JP Fraley and Black Snake Bit me on the Toe played by Bob Carlin and Bruce Molsky. There's others but that's all I can think of this early in AM


Adam Tracksler
Sep-27-2006, 10:48am
Skip gorman uses this tuning alot. At the last mandocamp north, he gave a performance/workshop for an hour using this tuning.

Sep-27-2006, 3:03pm
I've messed around with ADAD tuning which lets you play all kinds of bluesy sounding stuff without trying hard.

Sep-27-2006, 6:17pm
Yes ADAD is cool; Sam Bush uses this for his slide mando.
It also works well for a stripped down "DADGAD-ish" feel.

Oct-01-2006, 9:20pm
See Skip Gorman's Mandolin in the Cow Camp CD set - several cross tunings and he has specifics in the liner notes.

Oct-02-2006, 11:25am
Rayna Gellert's great tune Swannanoa Waltz is also tuned either DDAE or ADAE.
It almost plays itself in ADAE. Sweet little waltz it is too. Rayna does a great job of carrying the second and third beats on her fiddle.

Oct-02-2006, 4:16pm
Thanks for all the replies. Ah yes the Skip Gorman CD; need to listen to that again.

There's some transcriptions in this book I just picked up:

"Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes" by Jeff Todd Titon.

Lot's of AEAE tunes too.

This BTW is an excellent book. Its a hardcover book and comes with a CD with about 24 tunes. There are about 140 transcriptions all laid out in very clean typesetting. Some very interesting history, background and bios. A tasty little book. If you like Hartford's "The Speed of the Old Long Bow" then you will probably like this book.

I'm working on the Ed Haley Gm Blackberry Blossom. What a finger buster it is!


Shana Aisenberg
Oct-05-2006, 9:04am
Just back from Cape Cod Mandolin Camp, Butch Baldassari had a new National mandolin tuned DDAD and played a medley of Whiskey Before Breakfast/Bonaparte's Retreat and another tune (I'm not remembering what at the moment) on it at the Sat night concert. That tuning had a great sound on the National.


John Flynn
Oct-05-2006, 3:43pm
On the "Songs From the Mountain" CD, the fiddler on "Wayfaring Stranger" is in "dead man's tuning," DEAD, which is pretty close to what your are talking about. It gives it that haunting sound.