All fourths tuning

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All fourths
Chromatic circle fourths.svg
The consecutive open notes of all-fourths tuning are spaced apart by five semitones on the chromatic circle, which lists the twelve notes of the octave.
Basic information
AliasesPerfect-fourths tuning
IntervalPerfect fourth
Advanced information
Other instrumentsBass guitar
AdvantagesClosely approximates standard tuning
DisadvantagesDifficult to play conventional music, especially barre chords
Left-handed tuningAll-fifths tuning
Associated musician
GuitaristStanley Jordan
Alex Hutchings
Tom Quayle
Stanley Jordan plays guitar.
Jazz musician Stanley Jordan stated that all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it logical".
Regular tunings (semitones)
Trivial (0)
Minor thirds (3)
Major thirds (4)
All fourths (5)
Augmented fourths (6)
New standard (7, 3)
All fifths (7)
Minor sixths (8)
Guitar tunings

Among alternative tunings for the guitar, all-fourths tuning is a regular tuning.[1] In contrast, the standard tuning has one irregularity—a major third between the third and second strings—while having perfect fourths between the other successive strings.[2][3] The standard tuning's irregular major-third is replaced by a perfect fourth in all-fourths tuning, which has the open notes E2-A2-D3-G3-C4-F4.[1][4]

The note layouts on the fretboard of a guitar tuned in perfect 4ths, with arrows that show where the same note continues on a higher-pitched string. All adjacent strings have the same interval and repeat at the 5th fret, unlike standard guitar tuning which has an inconsistency between the 2nd and 3rd strings.

Among regular tunings, this all-fourths tuning best approximates the standard tuning.[5]

Open chords for beginners.
These chord shapes can be moved across the fretboard, unlike the chord shapes of standard tuning.
More movable chord-shapes.

In all guitar tunings, the higher-octave version of a chord can be found by translating a chord by twelve frets higher along the fretboard.[6] In every regular tuning, for example in all-fourths tuning, chords and intervals can be moved also diagonally. For all-fourths tuning, all twelve major chords (in the first or open positions) are generated by two chords, the open F major chord and the D major chord. The regularity of chord-patterns reduces the number of finger positions that need to be memorized.[1] Jazz musician Stanley Jordan plays guitar in all-fourths tuning; he has stated that all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it logical".[7]

Among all regular tunings, all-fourths tuning E-A-D-G-C-F is the best approximation of standard tuning, which is more popular. An advantage of standard tuning is that it has many six-string chords, unlike all-fourths tuning.[5] All-fourths tuning is traditionally used for the bass guitar;[5] it is also used for the bajo sexto.[8]

Allan Holdsworth stated that if he were to learn the guitar again he would tune it in all-fourths.[9][10]

Relation with all-fifths tuning[edit]

All-fourths tuning is closely related to all-fifths tuning. All-fourths tuning is based on the perfect fourth (five semitones), and all-fifths tuning is based on the perfect fifth (seven semitones). The perfect-fifth and perfect-fourth intervals are inversions of one another, and the chords of all-fourth and all-fifths are paired as inverted chords. Consequently, chord charts for all-fifths tunings may be used for left-handed all-fourths tuning.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Sethares (2001, p. 52):

    Sethares, Bill (2001). "Regular tunings". Alternate tuning guide (PDF). Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin; Department of Electrical Engineering. pp. 52–67. 2010 Alternate tuning guide, including a revised chapter on regular tunings. Retrieved 19 May 2012.

  2. ^ Nash (1997)
  3. ^ Denyer (1992, pp. 158–159)
  4. ^ Weissman (2006, p. 68)
  5. ^ a b c Sethares (2001, p. 58)
  6. ^ Sethares (2001, p. 9)
  7. ^ Ferguson (1986, p. 76):
    Ferguson, Jim (1986). "Stanley Jordan". In Casabona, Helen; Belew, Adrian (eds.). New directions in modern guitar. Guitar Player basic library. Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. pp. 68–76. ISBN 0881884235.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Allan Holdsworth on All-Fourths Tuning – Streamable, retrieved 16 February 2018
  10. ^ "The Unreachable Star (Guitar World 1989) – Allan Holdsworth Information Center". Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  11. ^ Sethares (2001, p. 53)


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]