The Guitar Is Tuned Wrong

author: myopathy date: 10/07/2010 category: music theory
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So you know that standard tuning is EBGDAE.You learned that from the first day you played guitar.And you may have just lived with the fact that standard tuning is always going to be EBGDAE.But for people like me, I always wanted to know why it was tuned the way it was, because that didn't happen by just messing around with notes, just hoping to get a good combination. (1.)Mainly guitarists read tablature everyday that looks like this:
E---------------------
B---------------------
G---------------------
D---------------------
A---------------------
E---------------------
from the high E to the low E.Am I right? (2.)Well,the way it was originally intended for it to be written was:
E---------------------
A---------------------
D---------------------
G---------------------
B---------------------
E---------------------
The 1st way that it's almost always recognized and written doesn't show the correct way. Because of the intervallic structure behind it.Let's analyze that: E-B:perfect fifth B-G:minor sixth G-D:perfect fourth D-A:perfect fifth A-E:perfect fifth Now, for those of you who don't know: THE GUITAR IS TUNED TO FOURTHS. In the first analysis behind the standard look of tablature, there's only one perfect fourth.The majority of them are perfect fifths with one minor sixth. That doesn't sound right to me, personally. The 2nd way that possibly very few people write out music with is going to be analyzed...now!: E-A:perfect fourth A-D:perfect fourth D-G:perfect fourth G-B:MAJOR THIRD(Explanation!) B-E:perfect fourth Now that makes much more sense, doesn't it? With the exception of the B string of course.Because there's a major third in place of a perfect fourth, THE GUITAR IS THEORETICALLY TUNED WRONG. I remember I used to tune my B string to a C when I didn't know how the Rule Of Fifths work. So if you tune your B string to a C string, you're not out of tune, essentially, because you're following a rule. But sound-wise? I don't think it will sound very good... So if you were wondering how I got the perfect fourths:
1. Take the major scale of the low E string:
E F# G# A B C# D# E
1 2  3  4 5 6  7  1
 
Perfect fourth:A
 
Now take the A major scale:
A B C# D E F# G# A
1 2 3  4 5 6  7  1
 
Perfect fourth:D
 
Now take the D major scale:
D E F# G A B C# D
1 2 3  4 5 6 7  1
 
Perfect fourth:G
 
Now take the G major scale:
G A B C D E F# G
1 2 3 4 5 6 7  1
 
Perfect fourth:C(major third:B)
 
Now take the B major scale:
B C# D# E F# G# A# B
1 2  3  4 5  6  7  1
 
Perfect fourth:E
 
If you were to take the C major scale:
C D E F G A B C
 
Perfect fourth:F
I have never tried tuning the high E to make it a high F. So don't ask me what it sounds like, because I cannot say anything. Conclusion: The guitar is theoretically tuned wrong. Because the B string is tuned to a major third rather than all perfect fourths. Granted, maybe it as a good idea making standard tuning wrong by default, because standard tuning sounds fine the way it is, but in the end, the guitar is still tuned wrong.
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