Hi all,

I'm listening to a lot of Pavement at the moment and I'm so impressed with the breadth of tunings they use. Them and bands like Sonic Youth just perplex me. How do they come up with the guitar tunings they use?

For instance, there's a riff in a song I've written which has an open string and the next string up moving, but there's one bit where I jump to a chord for two beats and I feel that an alternative tuning might actually make it easier for me to do this. Where the hell would I even think about starting with this? (Or should I just suck it up and get better at playing it?).

I'm just really interested as to how you come up with an alternate tuning and a riff/part for it or if the part comes before the tuning or whatever. I mean some of the tunings these guys use have been around for a while (not sure if they use DADGAD that often) but even then, how were they thought of originally? I find this really interesting.

Hi, you've partially answered your own question, that sometimes its useful to change tuning for the easier playing.
The other part of answer is that it's good to use alternate tuning to get a new fresh look at guitar sound.
There's a short video, that can be useful:
The largest part of it is dicking about until you find something that works for you. From there, you'll likely start doing what Udjine talks about.

There are a lot of steps between DADDAD and DABf#Ac# and a lot of it is a combination of mixing old tunings, thinking about the sort of "open sound" you want, and tweaking the tuning for songs you write for the latter ones - experiment. People tend to write for these things quite intuitively and then become sort of "little experts" on a particular set of tunings through experience

I came up with that DAB one because I liked open D, but wanted use of a (open) major 7th in the upper octave, and wanted to create some dissonant power chords in the lower register. Simples.
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