Today in this lesson we will go through one of the not so popular guitar tunings, known as A-Tuning ( Standard A Tuning ).
This guide will you how to easily tune your guitar to A Standard Tuning, why you should learn this tuning and and some songs and bands that use this extremely lower tuning.
What is A Standard Tuning?
A Standard Tuning ( aka A-tuning )is a type of alternate tuning where all the 6 strings are tuned down a perfect fifth from the standard tuning. This means, to tune your guitar to Standard A tuning, you have lower each string by 3 and a half steps (a perfect fifth) from the typical Standard tuning.
This tuning is very popular in heavy metal music and other genres like rock, jazz, and fingerstyle. It is also recognized as one of the standard tunings for Baritone guitars besides, Standard B Tuning.
One of the early adopters of this tuning includes the English death metal band, ‘Bolt Thrower’ where they used Standard A tuning for their 1989 album “Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness”.
For your reference, here’s how a standard tuning looks like:
E-A-D-G-B-E (lowest to highest)
While in Standard A tuning, all the 6 strings are lowered by a perfect 5th. Hence, in Standard A tuning the strings are tuned as :
A-D-G-C-E-A (lowest to highest)
How to tune to Standard A tuning?
Tuning your guitar from Standard to Standard A tuning is pretty simple. As I’ve mentioned above, all you have to do is tune all the six strings down a perfect fifth. Meaning, lower each string by 3-and-a-half steps. Here is a step by step instruction:
Step-By-Step Tuning Guide for DADGAD tuning:
- First, tune the 6th (E) String (lowest string) down a perfect 5th to A
- Then tune the 5th (A) string down a perfect 5th to D
- Similarly, tune the 4th (D) string down a perfect 5th to G
- Tune the 3rd (G) string down a perfect 5th to C
- Then tune the 2nd (B) string down a perfect 5th to E
- Lastly, take the 1st (E) (thinnest string) and tune it down a perfect 5th to A
So, that’s it. You are all tuned up to Standard A.
Things to keep in mind when tuning to Standard A
- Its a good practice to keep a chromatic tuner handy when tuning the guitar. This will ensure that your new tuning is as accurate as possible.
- Also make sure to use a heavier gauge string set when tuning to such a lower tuning like Standard A. This will provide sufficient tension and prevent your guitar to go out of tune.
Why Play in Standard A tuning?
As mentioned above, Standard A tuning involves tuning the strings extremely lower ( down a 5th) than the regular standard tuning. This results in producing a much heavier sound when a lot of gain and distortion is added.
So, if you want to write that new heavy riff or produce some rich and deep tones this tuning has to offer, then tuning your guitar to Standard A with added distortion can be a good option.
You may also like to experiment with the clean tone as well, as this tuning sounds great when finger-picked.
Songs that use Standard A tuning
There are tons of metal songs that use the Standard A tuning, but one of the most popular ones is ‘These Walls’ by Dream Theater from their 2005 album, ‘Octavarium’.
John Petrucci is known for using a variety of tunings across the band’s discography and through the song ‘These Walls’ he perfectly showcased how to put this extremely heavy, Standard A tuning to work.
With some amazing chord voicing, killer riffings, and clean playing, this song can easily get a place in your playlist. Petrucci used his custom “John Petrucci BFR” guitar to record this song.
Apart from that, Petrucci also used standard A tuning in songs like ‘Blind Faith’ from ‘Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence’ album and ‘Viper King’ from the ‘Distance Over Time’ album.
List of Songs in Standard A Tuning
- Blind by Korn
- Shock by Fear Fcatory
- Descend Into the Eternal Pits of Possession by The Project Hate MCMXCIX
- Sun Of Nihility by A Job for a Cowboy
- Behoid by Born of Osiris
- Realm of Chaos by Bolt Thrower
- The Cry – Demilich