How to Tune a Slack-Key Guitar

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Slack key is the style of tuning most commonly associated with Hawaiian guitar. There are actually many different tunings which are called "slack key," but the most common is Taro Patch. This is a G major open tuning

Things You'll Need

  • Guitar
  • Tuner (optional)

How to Tune a Slack-Key Guitar

  • Tune the 6th string down to D. Use the 4th string as a guide if you do not have a tuner.

  • Tune the 5th string down to G. Use the 3rd string as a guide.

  • Leave the 4th and 3rd strings at D and G respectively.

  • Leave the 2nd string at B.

  • Tune the 1st string down to D. Use the D on the 2nd string (3rd fret) as a guide.

  • Strum the open strings. It should sound a natural G major chord.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can experiment with other slack-key tunings as well. Most of them are open chord tunings (open D, C, and F are common).
  • Many transcriptions of slack-key tunes will use the Hawaiian names for the tunings rather than traditional names. "Atta's C," for example, is C Major tuning.
  • Many 7th chord tunings will be called Wahine tunings.

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