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Thread: Mandolin to DADGAD

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    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin to DADGAD

    I am considering purchasing a parlor sized guitar for the purpose of learning DADGAD guitar. I am an experienced mandolin player, but have never played guitar. My favorite genre are folk, Celtic, traditional. My question is, should I simply learn guitar in DADGAD right from the first? It would seem logical for my situation, rather than taking regular guitar lessons, then having to flip my brain over to DADGAD. Any advice from the cafe is always welcome.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    In my five or so years hanging out here on the Cafe my favorite quote has been "remember, it's a fretted fiddle, not a tiny guitar." I tell folks this when they are coming from guitar and cant stretch the mandolin fret board (like a closed G chord).

    With that in mind, I'd at least learn how to hold, chord, pick, strum, finger, etc a guitar the right way regardless of tuning.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    My question is what is it that attracts you to this tuning? It isn't related to mandolin tuning. You can learn basic guitar technique with a guitar tuned however you like but there are a lot more resources available for standard tuning.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    If you learn guitar in DADGAD, that’s how you’ll understand and approach guitar. Same would be true for standard tuning. I see no reason not to jump right into what you actuality want to do with the instrument.

    I would suggest rethinking getting a parlor though, just in case you ever want to play with someone else and might need more volume.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    The thought has also occurred to me. I've been playing mandolin on and off for several years now, but I've just never been able to get into guitar. Now that I've been getting more seriously into mandolin (and thinking more about fretted instruments in general), all of a sudden I'm reconsidering picking up guitar again, but this time in alternate tunings.

    One thing I've appreciated about learning mandolin from the get-go is how logical all-fifths tuning is. I feel like part of what made learning guitar so difficult for me was standard tuning! Maybe with DADGAD or an open tuning, it'll come more easily.

    Guitarists: is there any particular reason to learn standard tuning first?
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    I know a number of guitar players who I have only ever heard playing in DADGAD. That is their style and that is what they do.

    So if that is your interest, then I really can't see why not.
    David A. Gordon

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    an alternative would be nui, 4 string, tenor guitar like uke , love it, yes the string length is longer and yes yo have to stretch, there is no getting around that. But it allows you finger styles with the right hand and lots of expression ,

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Here's what the great Pierre Bensusan has to say.

    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Here is Ross Martin of the brilliant Scottish band Diamh. He really gets a great groove going.

    David A. Gordon

  12. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    There are some good books out there on DADGAD with tab in them. Since Celtic is what you're interested in, there's no reason not to start with DADGAD. I would suggest you consider a body size larger than parlor, given the low pitch timbre of the tuning. Ideally something grand auditorium or small jumbo. If those are too big for your comfort, than an OM at the minimum. Also, expect to adjust the string gauge and guitar setup for the lower tension. There is a gauge of strings called "true medium" which are designed specifically for DADGAD (the E,B, and e strings are heavier)

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    I play a parlor guitar, I finger pick so a little different, but it is plenty loud to keep up with most situations. Especially if you get something decent. I also play in open D, sometimes, it handles that well even with light strings. I don't particularly like a larger guitar, and unless a huge bass sound is what you are looking for, a parlor will work fine for you. You can always get another guitar if it isn't cutting it, but it will be very comfortable to play and you may play more with something you enjoy.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Like pops1 I have a small repertoire I do in open D tuning, and I have a question for all the DADGAD players, which is why is DADGAD tuning preferred by you guys instead of open D? (D-A-D-F#-A-D)? I never really understood why the augmented third (or minor 4th) of DADGAD tuning is preferred over the open D tuning?
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    I guess I've answered my own question with a brief internet search, people who prefer DADGAD call it "modal D tuning" since the open chord is neither major nor minor, of course the chord is a sus4 chord, so I suppose it's good for modal playing (which I love the sound of modal tunes and minor tunes).

    I've been playing guitar over 50 years and never played with DADGAD. Used several open tunings, but prefer open D as none of the strings are raised, like DADGAD strings are only lowered, but the G is also lowered 1/2 step.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    My question is what is it that attracts you to this tuning? It isn't related to mandolin tuning. You can learn basic guitar technique with a guitar tuned however you like but there are a lot more resources available for standard tuning.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Like pops1 I have a small repertoire I do in open D tuning, and I have a question for all the DADGAD players, which is why is DADGAD tuning preferred by you guys instead of open D? (D-A-D-F#-A-D)? I never really understood why the augmented third (or minor 4th) of DADGAD tuning is preferred over the open D tuning?
    DADGAD has become a very popular tuning, particularly for Celtic styles of music - although Led Zeppelin used that tuning for pieces like "Kashmir".

    It differs from open D (D A D F# A D) by not having a major chord as an open tuning, thus allowing for some different voicings of chords, and it's a bit easier to avoid the typical standard tuning guitar accompaniment styles ( like from old time music, country music, rock, etc.) that are not so effective in Irish traditional music.

    By not having any triads in the open tuning it become s a more "modal" tuning and as such seems to fit the sensibilities of many players.

    One other thing - the lowest 4 strings, DADG, are the standard tuning for the Algerian mandol, a 4 course instrument about the size of an octave mandolin or Irish bouzouki.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    DADGAD has become a very popular tuning, particularly for Celtic styles of music - although Led Zeppelin used that tuning for pieces like "Kashmir".

    It differs from open D (D A D F# A D) by not having a major chord as an open tuning, thus allowing for some different voicings of chords, and it's a bit easier to avoid the typical standard tuning guitar accompaniment styles ( like from old time music, country music, rock, etc.) that are not so effective in Irish traditional music.

    By not having any triads in the open tuning it become s a more "modal" tuning and as such seems to fit the sensibilities of many players.

    One other thing - the lowest 4 strings, DADG, are the standard tuning for the Algerian mandol, a 4 course instrument about the size of an octave mandolin or Irish bouzouki.
    Makes perfect sense, David, thanks for the explanation.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Like pops1 I have a small repertoire I do in open D tuning, and I have a question for all the DADGAD players, which is why is DADGAD tuning preferred by you guys instead of open D? (D-A-D-F#-A-D)? I never really understood why the augmented third (or minor 4th) of DADGAD tuning is preferred over the open D tuning?
    The G is a perfect fourth, not a "minor fourth", and definitely not an augmented third. As has been answered, it is often preferred because it is not major or minor.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I guess I've answered my own question with a brief internet search, people who prefer DADGAD call it "modal D tuning" since the open chord is neither major nor minor, of course the chord is a sus4 chord, so I suppose it's good for modal playing (which I love the sound of modal tunes and minor tunes).

    I've been playing guitar over 50 years and never played with DADGAD. Used several open tunings, but prefer open D as none of the strings are raised, like DADGAD strings are only lowered, but the G is also lowered 1/2 step.
    https://youtu.be/yl9q6dFOpA4

    An explanation by Tony McManus about the limitations of open D.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    The G is a perfect fourth, not a "minor fourth", and definitely not an augmented third. As has been answered, it is often preferred because it is not major or minor.

    That's right, I misspoke. (mis-typed? Definitely mis-thought).
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    https://youtu.be/yl9q6dFOpA4

    An explanation by Tony McManus about the limitations of open D.
    Wow, another very thorough explanation, thanks Caleb. In one video, Tony McManus made all the old slide blues and Dylan Blood On The Tracks tunes I play seem really boring. Now I want to do DADGAD and just play some scales!
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you want to play in DADGAD, start there. It's great for the kind of music you want to play and there's much more educational material available than there used to be.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    I've used that tuning for blues/slide guitar along with DGDGBD. Played at a folk school one year and one of the perks was taking a class. Did it with John Doyle who is a master with that tuning.

  30. #22
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by dulcillini View Post
    My favorite genre are folk, Celtic, traditional. My question is, should I simply learn guitar in DADGAD right from the first?
    It's certainly an option, but from my perspective as someone who has played guitar for almost 50 years, and currently play almost exclusively Irish and Scottish trad on a mix of guitar, mandolin, and flute, it's not the only way to get there.

    I was playing Blues and "Americana fingerstyle" guitar before getting drawn into Irish trad, and instead of exploring DADGAD I decided to focus on Drop-D tuning. Partly inspired by John Doyle, a fantastic Irish accompanist who mainly uses Drop-D tuning (or at least used to). The advantage of course, is that it works great for "Celtic" guitar but you're just a few twists of a single tuner to get back to standard EADGBE tuning for other styles of music like Blues, Bluegrass, "Folk," or whatever. You need to learn a few Drop-D chord shapes different from standard tuning, but many will carry over the same as in standard tuning.

    Another advantage of Drop-D is that you don't need a capo. You'll see many DADGAD guitarists using a fast capo switch in the middle of a tune set when the key or mode changes. You don't have to do that if you learn enough chord forms, but it's a shortcut that many DADGAD players use. I haven't found that to be necessary in Drop-D tuning. The chords you need when the tunes shift keys in a set are all available with standard barre and closed chord shapes.

    As a side comment, and this is just my personal feeling about DADGAD, I find many DADGAD guitar accompanists in Irish/Scottish trad very uninspiring. Not the masters like Tony McManus, or those like Pierre Bensusan who have fully explored the potential, but the so-so players who use the "modal" tuning's lack of a strong third interval as a crutch to strum bland, vague chords behind the melody. Some Irish melody instrument players like that because it's better than picking a "wrong" chord, which is very easy to do if you don't understand the music, but for me it often lacks harmonic interest.

    This is just my personal perspective. Don't let it discourage you from focusing only on DADGAD tuning if you find it appealing. It's certainly become very popular for the music you're interested in.

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  32. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    I've been using dadgad since age 14 - since first hearing LZ I. Your time is gonna come into Page's reworking of Black Waterside knocked my socks off. A seminal and everlasting event for me. Dadgad gtr got me into "celtic" music when I started learning from Bensusan albums. That led me into much more...

    I grew up playing classical gtr, but also adopted variant tunings early on. I enjoy the "harp"-like resonance of "open" tunings . . . (eventually leading me to playing harps, zithers, saz, et al). I always had at least one 12-string in dadgad; the big resonance has always been something special for me.

    So, different tunings do different things - enabling some and inhibiting others. The "standard" tunings like D, G, C provide a big resonance and make solo steel string gtr performing more varied. If you go off into other instruments, styles, idioms - many utilizing modal forms, diatonics, etc - learning this on guitar will be highly beneficial. It's possible and perhaps likely that (your) familiarity with 5ths/mndln will facilitate a concept and approach to learning dadgad gtr.




    Last edited by catmandu2; Oct-23-2020 at 1:05pm.

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  34. #24
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    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    A few others have suggested starting with a standard sized guitar if your intention is to play in DADGAD. I concur. The shorter neck length can make the lower-tuned strings buzz. I play a few songs in DADGAD, but by far the most songs (in all genres) were written in, and play best in, standard tuning. Your choice.

  35. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin to DADGAD

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Meldrum View Post
    ... by far the most songs (in all genres) were written in, and play best in, standard tuning.
    Hmm, don't know about that. For example, I think O'carolan sounds better in G or dadgad than std ("spanish-tuned") gtr. There's a ton of music that is served well (best?) by exploiting the natural resonances of modal guitar. Michael Hedges, Fahey, Kottke, and all the "primitives"... But, I'm a guy who likes the hardanger fiddle

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