[from a Celtic Backup owner]
Here are a few comments in response to your apt questions:
>Your text doesn't reference tuning changes until the Appendix 2 section.
>My Question: for the initial exercises in the book, the 15 point plan, it appears that drop D tuning is best: DADGBE. Yes or Other?
Actually, for the 15-point plan (as much as I remember how I conceived it at that time), the priority would be to ensure that you can get open-string drones in useful keys: e.g., the root and/or 5th degree of the scale on the fundamentals G, D, A, and E. So, a tuning that gives you, respectively, G-D, D-A, A-E, and/or E-B as open strings helps make these open-string drones especially feasible.
Strictly for accompaniment, I personally prefer to use some kind of tuning which supports low (6th-string) D and (5th-string) A, as that gives me root/5th in D, the 5th of D (and lets me play bass runs that lead up to the 6th-string/5th-fret G, approaching the fundamental of below), gives me the root of A. It also mimics the low D bass drone of the pipes. So, for me either DADGBE or DADGAD is preferable.
Here are the advantages, as I see them, of the above two tunings:
Has the advantage of permitting a very triadic/chordal approach (familiar fingerings, full 3-note triads) while also supporting the low D-A drone strings. So we can have moving or droning bass lines under triads. Best for D major/minor, G major (can use the low drones the most). Less good for A mix/min (can use the low A drone some). Less good for E minor (can’t use the low drones at all).
Permits the adaptation of familiar triadic fingerings to omit the 3rds from chords. So, a D chord without the 1st-string F#, a G chord with the 2nd-string B altered to a 3rd-fret D, and so forth. Calls for quick thinking and conscious choices from the player in order to avoid adding a “triadic” flavor to tunes which don’t require it.
I tend to use DADGBE myself because I like the flexibility of being able to shift from a very droning/modal orientation to a very triadic one within the course of a single accompaniment.
Best exemplar: Arty McGlynn (my very favorite Irish-style guitarist, but one who I like primarily for his rhythmic and textural sense).
Has the very major advantage of providing useful drones on treble as well as bass strings. Readily permits the incorporation of root-5th treble drones (in D), 5th-2nd treble drones (in G), 5th-4th drones (in A). Still rather problematic for E (many DADGAD players will capo at the 2nd fret and play D minor/modal fingerings to get E minor).
Has the additional very major advantage of really supporting the contrapuntal approach laid out in Celtic Backup. You can play moving lines above, below, or even between low and/or high drones. Really is the best solution I know for making the 6-string guitar “behave” in a bouzouki-esque fashion. Very good overall for counterpoint.
I use DADGAD when I pick up the wife’s guitar in a session, and have come to appreciate its droning/modal/zouk-like characteristics much more over the years. Lets the instrument really function as very effective drone/percussion—takes it a long way away from triadic/”guitaristic” approaches.
Exemplars: Philip Masure (
Think of DADGBE as a kind of “pianistic” approach, where you can have “right-hand” (treble) chords, of triadic or modal nature, over a moving bass line (McGlynn).
Think of DADGAD as a kind of “bouzouki/pipes” approach, where you can contrapuntal accompanimental lines moving above, below, or within drones.
*Having said that, I can also point you at Han Speek’s DADGAD guitar pages (http://home.hccnet.nl/h.speek/dadgad/). Han is a great musician, a true gentleman, and very generous with his knowledge.