Identify this guitar tuning by ear (or somehow cheating)

*ETA: I play a lot in Open G. Yes, you can hear differences in an Open tuning because when you hit the open strings, or barre across a full fret, you hear the sonority of the tuned-in chord. I don’t get any of that here.

Hmm - I meant to edit my original post, but seem to have quoted myself. Sigh.

Carry on.

I don’t think it’s nylon string on the recorded version. Sounds acoustic to me (either acoustic, electro-acoustic or hollow-body electric). Plus, it’s not really possible to bend notes on a nylon strung guitar. I also don’t think there’s a single bended note in the solo. There does sound like there’s a slight delay effect used, though.

Yeah, that’s my guess is that one of the strings is slightly detuned, as the notes that sound detuned to me are about two or three specific notes as he’s walking down the scale, suggesting to me that it’s notes on one particular string that area a little off.

A quick search on the tab sites I frequent show a capo on the 1st. That might explain the thin sound; plus he uses a spanish guitar (nylon?) on the studio recording according to wikipedia.
I also suspect that he’s running a reverb and phase pedal in there as well.

That’s interesting. “Spanish guitar” is not precise terminology and can refer to either a classical nylon-string guitar or a flamenco nylon-string guitar.

A flamenco guitar is smaller and lighter than a classical guitar, with a brighter sound. You can hear the difference between the two on this youtube video: classical, flamenco.

The brighter sound and faster attack of a flamenco guitar makes it sound closer to a steel-string acoustic/electric than a classical nylon-string does, and so, of the two, I’d guess that it’s a flamenco guitar in the recording.

I stand by my post, which appears at least partially confirmed by swampsoruce. Sounds pretty clear to me.


I find it hard deciding if someone used barre chords or open chords. Unless it’s way up the neck. A G barre chord on the third fret compared to an open G chord sounds pretty similar. There is a difference, but its hard to hear in a song’s full studio mix.

Fogerty used a lot of barre chords in CCR’s songs. But most people play covers of CCR in open chords.

Yeah, there’s a delay effect. The repeats aren’t loud, but they decay pretty slowly. Given the age of the recording, it’s very likely a tape delay. The tape stretching and pulling will make the sound warble, which could account for the bending/quarter tones people are hearing.

I agree. Definitely delay going on in there. I don’t think it’s tape warble on the “out-of-tune” notes, though, as it only happens on certain specific notes, and it happens repeatedly on exactly those same notes later on.

Just following behind greater expertise here… thanks for all your input. But aren’t the delay/digital effects a totally different matter from the tuning? The 5th seems consistently very flat. Now that I reflect on it a bit, I can’t even think of a tuning where that makes sense, yet it still sounds cool

Yep, that’s exactly what I hear. The 5th and 4th jump out at me as being a little off.

If you have a delay going, and do some sort of detuning - a bend, a bend above the headstock, a twist of a tuning peg - the delay sorta “smears” the detuning.

I sorta feel like I am talking to myself here. puly am I missing anything?

What this sounds like to me, is I’m picturing an old/cheap acoustic guitar, maybe a mandolin or something – either not very well setup or otherwise kinda difficult to play…remember your first cheapo acoustic with really high action that hurt the hell out of your hands? The sort of “plinky” timbre, it’s definitely not in tune at least on certain notes or intervals, the sloppiness of the playing in general (I mean, there are at least a couple of botched notes – at 2:09, and at 2:16 the sloppy slide; more plunks in the second solo), all of it telegraphs to me deliberate imperfection. On a well-tuned and intonated instrument that part would sound as slick as the rest of the production, but it does give it a standout character because it doesn’t.

There’s definitely a delay on it, but the instrument itself is indeed a little out of tune and sort of sloppy-sounding. Either kind of a crappy instrument (wouldn’t be the first time a pro used one to achieve a particular sound) or a deliberately relaxed/sloppy take. I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that.

I can hear why people think it sounds kind of world music-y. The sound kind of reminds me a bit of a West African kora or even something like a Persian santoor.

Just intonation is probably the most commonly used tuning system worldwide after equal temperament, which Western music uses almost exclusively. Wikipedia’s page on just intonation has this sound sample, among others, which clearly shows the differences in pitch created by the two systems: sound sample (1st and 3rd chords heard are using equal temperament; 2nd and 4th are using just intonation).

Also, here’s a video of the guitarist Steve Vai discussing a special guitar he has that plays with true temperament, aka just intonation. You can see that each fret is individually crafted so that each string touches it at a different position across the width of the fretboard (as opposed to Western guitars, designed for equal temperament, that use straight frets).

No, that sounds about right to me. I personally don’t think the delay is making that much of a difference in the perception of the detuning–it’s pretty clear on the initial attack that it’s off. I’m inclined to believe troub’s interpretation of what’s going on here. I mean, it’s clearly deliberate that the slop was left in–not just the off-tuning on some of the notes but, as he or she notes, the slide and plunks throughout the solo. But it sounds cool, so why not?

It’s well-documented that Lindsey Buckingham is a fan of nonstandard tuning. Clearly this is one of those cases… it sounds off, but not bad. I was just curious whether anybody could identify this as a known alternate tuning or a different thing.

I don’t think this is a non-standard tuning in the sense you’re thinking of. Non-standard tunings generally still sound “in-tune,” but the chord shapes and open strings and whatnot vary giving a different sound. That is to say, when you see non-standard tunings, you see stuff like banjo tuning, mandolin tuning, drop-D, open chords of various sorts, tunings tuned to open suspended chords, etc. They are still supposed to sound consonant. They don’t really flatten the fourth and fifth like you are hearing here. That’s either a string that is slightly out of tune, a performer who is purposefully playing the notes bent so they sound a quarter tone out, or an instrument that is just cheap and crappy and the intonation is just off.

Well it seems he is “proud” of this solo guitar. He is famously the member of Fleetwood Mac who was into the Sex Pistols and had a lot of issues with being part of a dinosaur group. This song is very pleasant and soothing so maybe he wanted to F it up a little. My guess is he liked the notes, and he was trying for a spontaneous feel, and a little bit of punky in there.

Well stated. Yes, I made reference to that upthread when I said I didn’t hear the “sonority” of an Open tuning. “Still sound consonant”, “sonority” - it sounds like an in-tune chord.

Buckingham is doing something on the fly to get that out-of-tune sound he was going after. Bending strings or playing with a tuner.

Oh, I just assumed the lead part was recorded separately. If it’s all the same take then, yeah, some bending or similar is involved.(And even if it’s recorded separately, this is a possibility.)