Tunings

Tuning the Kite guitar to EADGBE doesn't work, because the conventional chord shapes create wolves. For example, the usual E major chord shape 0 2 2 1 0 0 would translate to either 0 3 3 2 0 0 = E vB vE G# B E, or else 0 4 4 2 0 0 = E ^B ^E G# B E. Either way, the chord contains three wolf octaves and two wolf fifths. In addition, the major 3rd isn't 5/4 but 81/64.

There are two main types of tunings. Isomorphic tunings in 3rds lets you play 7-limit chords and chord progressions, and explore the 7-limit lattice. Open tunings such as DADGAD let you explore the 13-limit tonality diamond. There are two types of Kite guitar fretboards, even-frets and odd-frets. In the former, all or almost all of the frets are an even number of edosteps from the nut. In the latter, it's an odd number. The even-fret layout is for isomorphic tunings and the odd-frets layout is for open tunings.

Isomorphic means "same shape", and there is only one shape to learn for any chord. The standard isomorphic tuning is the downmajor tuning, in which adjacent open strings are tuned a downmajor 3rd apart. Alternative isomorphic tunings use an upminor 3rd or an upmajor 3rd. A semi-isomorphic tuning alternates downmajor and upminor 3rds. The drawback is that every chord has two shapes. The advantage is that the open strings make a diatonic scale.

Open tunings become more playable with the use of a "half-fret capo". From Jason Yerger's liner notes (see the "Recordings" section):

"A couple of improvisations on a guitar loaned to me by Kite Giedratis. The guitar is fretted to 41 notes per double-octave, i.e. every other note of 41 notes per octave, using movable cable ties. On these tracks I modified the fretting slightly by moving the 2nd fret down one step of 41edo and then put a capo behind it, effectively moving all the frets above it UP by one step of 41edo, so that the frets all give odd-numbered pitches from 41edo instead of even-numbered ones. This gives frets for approximations to the ratios 21/20, 12/11, 9/8, 7/6, 6/5, 5/4, 9/7, 4/3, 11/8, and 10/7 relative to the open strings, which makes it possible to let the open strings ring out against pitches fretted low on the neck when the open strings are tuned to DADGAD or DGDGAD, my two favorite open tunings.

Without the offset I introduced, the normal fretting on Kite's guitar would have the lowest frets approximating 28/27, 16/15, 10/9, 8/7, 32/27, 11/9, 81/64, 15/11, 7/5, and 16/11, which doesn't work well for the open tunings I like but is rather designed to have the open strings tuned in parallel 3rds (5/4 or 6/5), for an isomorphic layout that facilitates chords built by stacking 3rds. I found that tuning somewhat challenging, being so unlike any open string tunings I've ever used before, and most of the intervals between non-adjacent open strings are rather discordant. Other players, whose styles don't lean as heavily on open strings and drones the way I do, may find Kite's original design preferable to my modification.

But anyway, the two designs can coexist on the same fretboard by simply inserting an extra fret between the 1st and 2nd instead of moving the 2nd fret lower as I have done, and by varying the tuning of the open strings as you please. It's a fantastic way to access the resources of 41edo on a guitar, without having an absurd number of very closely-spaced frets!"

How to implement the half-fret capo trick: An extra fret slot is cut to allow insertion of a temporary fret in between the 1st and 2nd (permanent) frets. (If the guitar has a zeroth fret, the temporary fret can go between the 0th and 1st frets.) The slot stops short of the treble side of the fretboard. So gravity holds it in place, plus of course the capo. The temporary fret has the barbs on the side of the tang filed off. The extra slot is a bit wider, so the fret can be pulled out easily. It goes in from the side, under the strings, so the strings don't need to be loosened. It can be inserted and removed on stage between songs. The fret is a bit longer, sticks out about 1.5 inch, so that you can pull it out easily. Putting a large piece of wide tape on the part that sticks out helps prevent it from being lost.

Jason has since explored other tunings besides DADGAD and DGDGAD, such as E A vC# vG B ^^D (a 3:4:5:7:9:11 chord) and D A D vF# vC E (a 2:3:4:5:7:9 chord). He prefers placing the first fret 3 edosteps above the nut. This creates a half-fret offset without a capo. A capo on the 1st fret could remove the half-fret offset, if desired.

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