alto guitar - tuning & strings

Hampshire Guitar Orchestra » Guitar stuff » hago's guitars » alto guitar » tuning & strings

Alto guitar tuning

In a Niibori Guitar Orchestra, the alto is tuned 5 notes up from the prime guitar. This means that the tuning is B E A D F# B

The guitar is notated as if it were tuned conventionally, so that the instruction to play the open first string is written as an instruction to play E. When played, a B comes out, 5 notes higher.

What this means...

The alto guitar reads from the same notation as classical (prime) guitar, and is played with the same technique - nothing is different except that the notes come out higher in pitch than the notation suggests. Once the alto is tuned, the different tuning can be forgotten about.

When the composer/arranger notates the alto part, the alto guitar plays from a score with one less sharp, or one more flat, than the prime guitar.

Pluck this Hear this   Hear this Pluck this
Pluck this To hear this   To hear this Pluck this

Alto guitar strings

Hannabach alto strings

Strings are always a personal choice and several manufacturers, including D'Addario, Hannabach and Pyramid, sell alto strings.

Because the alto guitar is not proportionately as small (compared to the prime) as the increase in pitch of its open strings, the alto strings are thinner than the corresponding prime strings. Click for comparison table.

Alto guitars require frequent tuning because of the small diameter of the strings and the higher pitch.

hago have tried two sets of alto strings