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29 December 2014

The "Dead Hand" Ukulele Tuning

You might be forgiven for thinking that I've gone off ukuleles. Not true! It's just that everything has its ebb and flow. Most recently I've been captivated by my banjo and I'm having a lot of fun discovering how to make it sing. As part of this, I've discovered a new tuning that I'm calling the "Dead Hand" tuning. Today's post will give you a feel for what the "Dead Hand" tuning sounds like on ukulele. I think that this might just well spark the birth of a new era in ukulele history! Remember: you read it here first! Ha ha.

First of all, let's get the boring bit out of the way. The picture above shows you all the notes on the fretboard when you tune your uke to "Dead Hand" tuning.

The strings need to be tuned: D - F# - A - D

You may recognise this as a variant of open D tuning because this is what it is. ;-)

To make things easy for you, I've recorded a video to help you get to the Dead Hand tuning. You'll see that I've got the "re-entrant" thinner 4 string and this works fine. I'm experimenting with a Soprano ukulele and all is good!

But what can you do with this tuning?

Well, open tunings are often used by people who use slide, but that's not where I'm going with this. You can of course play chords although you'll find it a lot trickier to get the range that you would with the conventional GCEA tuning. I might share some of the basic chord "shapes" with you sometime.

I'm using it to pluck. Check out the snippet above from a tune I wrote a while back. You've got the unmistakable ukulele sound in a Bluegrass-type style. Now, isn't that an interesting concept! ;-)

Below is the same tune played on the banjo with a little accompaniment.

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