Home of Slack-Key Master Keola Beamer

BEG-10: Keola’s C Wahine Tuning Up For The First Time


Let's Tune Up!

To begin, tune your guitar to the normal EADGBE. If you don't know how to tune your guitar in standard tuning don’t worry! Play the following audio file and tune your guitar to mine:

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C Wahine Tuning

If you are tuned normally and to standard pitch, you will only need to "slack" or tune down two strings. Tune your 5th string down to G and your 6th string down to the low C. Be sure and take your time and tune to me by listening to the audio file.

Take your time to tune. Don’t let anybody or anything rush you. Tuning is important.

When you are done, double-check the tuning and listen carefully to each string. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Maybe even nice? It’s a different way of tuning the guitar for sure! Those low bass notes (5th string - G, and 6th string - C) add a beautiful undercurrent to the treble frequencies of the instrument. This low undercurrent became the one hānau, the birth sands, of our art form, kī hōʻalu - the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.

On my guitar, the low C goes on forever, undulating across the space of a room like a big blue wave. Listen to those low notes. Think about this a bit. This is pretty cool violation of normal guitar principles. What is going on here?

The sound of a normal guitar is a paradigm that we have all become used to. A paradigm can be defined as a structure that we human beings "think through". A filter of sorts. It is true in life that the structure of the way we think affects the results we achieve. What if the structure of our thinking was different?

The Slack Key Guitar is a different paradigm, a different way of thinking about the guitar.

- KB.

Want to go have a little fun?

Put the index finger of your left hand on the 2nd string first fret. (Remember 1st string is the high one - 6th string is the really low one.) Place the middle finger of your left hand on the 4th string second fret. Press them both down and strum all 6 strings with your right hand. Whoa! Cool!

c wahine chord diagram

C Chord Chart for C Wahine

CONGRATULATIONS - you've just entered the world of kī hōʻalu.

You have just played the tonic or C Chord, the root chord of Keola’s C.

Now remember that we spoke earlier about honoring the traditions of the Slack Key Guitar and coming to it with an open heart? I'd appreciate it if at this time you would put down your guitar and spend a few minutes reading A Brief History of Slack Key Guitar. What you learn will help you understand the traditions and roots of Slack Key Guitar. It will increase your appreciation of this wonderful art form and help you prepare for the next step.

Next: A Brief History of Slack Key Guitar, followed by Taro Patch Tuning.

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