Open tunings with H and OMG

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    • #4347
      SCGClover
      Participant

      Open tuning question with a long intro.  I had a luthier built 00 that was made in the ‘90s, and when I went through my Michael Hedges obsession, I started playing with wacko tunings and heavier strings… and tore the bridge off… twice.  Really.  The maker said that if I was going to treat the guitar like that he was going to stop fixing it under warranty.  Fast forward to now, my primary guitar is my SCGC H-12 mahog, and it is the stuff dreams are made of… but I am afraid to fool with tunings and percussion as I don’t want to hurt it.  I saw the Eric Skye interview, and he said that is the only model guitar he owns, and he does altered tunings.  I had been planning to buy something bigger and badder for tuning and slapping.  Is the H-12 up to it, or should I add an OMG or something?  In an ideal world I would own one guitar, in a practical world I own too many already.  Thanks for your thoughts.

    • #4349
      indexless
      Keymaster

      Greetings SCGCLover,

      Welcome, I’m sure you’ll get some answers here. I’ve worked with Eric for about 9 years and he gets a whole lot of sound out of his Signature model.

      I hope you have access to a local guitar store that is a Santa Cruz Dealer. The best thing to do is play a lot of them, each one has been kissed by angels and the Maestro in their own special way.

      Enjoy your search and again, Welcome!

    • #4350
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      I can let you know that my OM Grand is excellent at dropping tension and altered tunings and heavier strings!  I’d think the H would be fine though.  I wrote a thing when I was at Berklee with my H13 in open tuning

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
    • #4352
      tadol
      Moderator

      I think most of your problem might have been the heavier strings – you can put heavier strings on and tune down with little problem. But tuning up, and you start to seriously raise the tension levels, and add in slapping and percussive techniques, and bad things can happen – like bridges tearing off –

      An H-12 is a pretty rare and very cool beastie. I don’t know what scale length it is, but I’m thinking it might be SC standard short, which is 24.75” – note that erics guitar has a very unique (for SC) 24.9” scale – But it could also be SC standard long, 25.37”. Why does this matter? It doesn’t, other than make it possible to look up and calculate the differences in overall string tension when you change guage or tunings –

      With scale length, string size, and tuning, you can go to a variety of websites that have string tension calculators on-line, and get a sense of what your H was probably built for  – https://tension.stringjoy.com  –  was the first one that popped up for me, but I’m not recommending or advocating for it. But get a tension base-line ( assume light guage strings for standard – although Richard usually says you can use mediums, just pay close attention to your guitar and make sure the relief is adjusted properly ). Then, compare heavier string sets, and the alternate tunings you want to use, and see how the total tension changes. Remember that those numbers are static tension (usually) and aggressive playing techniques, heavy string bending, or slapping or pounding on the strings could cause spikes in tension that may be problematic if done frequently. Traditionally built small bodied guitars were not designed for some of those styles, so think about that, too. Also, if you use raised tunings, make sure you drop the tuning back down to something resembling normal tension before you put your guitar away –

      But the one thing I most remember Richard saying is that you need to pay attention to your instrument – well built guitars will usually give you plenty of warning prior to catastrophic failure. You would expect to see the relief increase, and the lower bout start to develop a larger belly. Or even a dip in the soundboard between the sound hole and the bridge. These are just some of the indications that your guitar will give letting you know that something just ain’t right – pay attention, and deal with the problems quickly as soon as you notice them, and you shouldn’t do any lasting damage.  Ignore them at your guitars peril –

      But those are just my thoughts –

    • #4353
      Hank
      Participant

      I may be incorrect here but ….a story.

      I purchased a SCGC  H model , an Otis Taylor Madi/Italian from Denver Folklore Center a few years ago. As a matter of fact it Was Otis Taylor’s main touring guitar and I have a letter from him stating so. In a telephone conversation with him he confirmed it.

      The scale length is 25.375  the same as standard H models.

      I purchased the guitar while in Boulder, Co. for my Niece’s wedding. She had asked my wife and I to sing “Wagon Wheel” as the bride and groom departed the ceremony …..I don’t know why …but she is my favorite Niece and I could not say no.

      Anyway , I brought the guitar back to Boulder and decided to replace the Light guage strings with SCGC Medium tension set.

      As I was tuning the medium set to 440 I experienced the worst sound I have heard since the “Dreaded incoming”.

      The Bridge split and separated from the body along with the under saddle P/U and six strings with an explosive bang that I still hearto this day.

      I looked at Dee and she was in the same shock I was.

      I called the owner of D.F.C. and he said bring it back and the would send it to the Mothership for repair at no cost to me….it was repaired and sent to me in Florida several weeks latter.

      Moral Of Story……The O.T . gets ONLY Lite Tension strings.

      If I were you I would think about an F model….they can take heavier strings….but I think they are MUCH better with Lites……FWIW, IMHO , ETC , ETC.

       


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

    • #4356
      SCGClover
      Participant

      Thanks for all the input, everybody.  Yes tadol, it is very cool and it is short scale.  I didn’t mean to imply that I wanted to use heavier strings, it was just a story to frame why I am so nervous about messing around with tunings.  I have been playing for 50 years, and this H-12 is my favorite guitar ever.  After touring the factory 2 years ago, I went up to Sylvan Music and played probably 30 high end guitars… and I just kept coming back to this H.  I went back the next day and the man behind the counter said “you’re here to play that 12 fret again, aren’t you”.  Oddly, my wife didn’t get the memo about being the voice 0f reason, and wound up buying it for me for a birthday present  I lie awake thinking about playing this guitar.  I daydream at work about going home and playing it.  I think I’ll give the OM Grand a test drive and see where it lands me.

      Thanks again.  Be kind, stay safe, and play from the heart.

    • #4357
      tadol
      Moderator

      Zorro – thats a risk with undersaddle pickups – they can raise the saddle up high enough that not enough is in the slot, and it makes a great lever against the edge of ebony, and if the grain is just right – well, you know – glad it got fixed up for ya!

      SCGClover – don’t be afraid. Just pay attention – but I’d be the last to try and dissuade you from another SC guitar! You know the FS was made for altered tunings? The cedar top may not be ideal for alot of percussive style,  but it’d sound great even if it were a bit battle scarred – but most any model (probably without a pyramid bridge) could do the job – but it might be worth an email to Richard or Carolyn to get their opinions!

    • #4359
      Hank
      Participant

      Tadol, you are correct . Upon close inspection the bridge had split along the grain . I think that the fact the guitar was in Colorado and traveled to Europe many times may have contributed to the problem.

      SCGClover….Tadol Is also right that the F series might be the model that you should also look at. I tune mine in DADGAD often.


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

    • #4363
      Matt Hayden
      Participant

      Tuning down is one thing….it reduces tension on the guitar, and that’s fine up to the point where there’s not enough tension to drive the top.

      Tunings that increase pitch are another kettle of fish entirely.   Steven Stills’ EEEEBE took a bridge off an old dread of mine, as did  GBDGBD / EBG#EBE some time after (dobro tuning) on an old Harmony.   Most instruments just can’t take the increased stress of higher-pitched tuning using light or medium gauge strings, especially those built before doming tops was common, and so they fly apart or fold up or get ski-jump necks.

      The only tuning I’ll use on my ‘good’ instruments that has anything higher than standard is John Fahey’s Sunflower tuning, CGCGCE, where the C is the only thing tuned high (B up to C)….I know SCGC and Martin (and so forth) build good instruments, but I’m not about to destruction-test.

      I’m pretty sure that’s why acoustic slide guitars made for those tunings have HUGE necks and tailpieces.  The large and sometimes square necks preload the neck and body, and the dowel stick through the body helps keep the body from folding up – and that includes metal-bodied instruments.

      It’s also probably why solidbody lap steels can take much higher tunings – they’re a solid chunk of wood with sheets of mother-of-toilet-seat-plastic slumped over them, and they don’t deform under tension.  (Speaking of which, does anyone have one cheap?)

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Matt Hayden.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Matt Hayden.
    • #4374
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      They allowed me the option of pre-war bracing or deep body on my OM Grand, I took the pre-war bracing.  I kick myself though because I think in hindsight for me a deep body and slightly shorter scale would have been just what I need.  The way it’s setup right now is killer for finger style , I think the deeper body and shorter scale whatever the length be would have been better for strumming

    • #4380
      Hank
      Participant

      AC you would LOVE the O.T. H model in Madi/ Italian….come play it mate.


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

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