Watch the String Tuning & Guages online guitar lesson by Tommy Emmanuel from Fingerstyle Milestones
I get asked a lot about the tunings that I use. Most of my songs are in normal guitar tuning. A lot of people associate fingerstyle guitar with open tunings. It's true, there are a lot of players who play in unusual tunings. Like a drop C tuning, or a DADGAD tuning, or an open G. The guitar sounds wonderful tuned in these open tunings. I don't play many songs in open tunings. I have a couple of songs. some songs that I've written because of the actual tuning. I guess the most unusual tuing that I use is normal guitar tuning and then the A string is down to G, and the E string is down to D, then the rest of it is normal. When you play it open, technically it's a G 6th tuning with a D base. I got that tuning from Chet Atkins. I wrote songs like The Tall Fiddler, The Cowboy's Dream, The Mystery - I wrote those songs in that tuning becasue I love that tuning. As far as strings go, I use uncoated strings because my hands don't sweat. If you have sweat or clammy hands you need to wash your hands more. You can buy coated strings and they will last a lot longer if you're the type of person that sweats battery acid. Too many hamburgers! The gauges of these strings, they are a light gauge, Martin strings. They are 12 to 54. That is right in the middle. The guitar is nice and comfortable, the action is nice and comfortable and the strings have just enough bite-back for me to enjoy playing it and for me being able to dig in. A lot of people start out with lighter strings, like 11-52. That's fine. You just have to know that you're not going to get the volume and the punch out of your guitar, but you will when you use a slightly heavier string. Some of my other guitars I use medium gauge strings which is 13-56. I keep an eye on the neck, you have to have the neck nice and straight. When the neck is straight there's not as much pressure to push the strings down, not as much hard work to get the clarity. Make sure your guitar is set up nicely with good strings on it, you've got your thumbpick, you've got the right attitude, you're all ready to go.