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Colours: Gear, Tone, and Tuning

 

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Colours

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“Colors" has only one guitar throughout the entire original recording, and that is how we are going to approach learning this song for our tutorial. I am using a Martin acoustic guitar, as this dreadnaught style acoustic helps really nail the tone of this style. I have light gauge, Martin strings on the guitar, and am using a traditional sized pic with a medium gauge.

The altered tuning is an open D chord, tuned D - A - D - F# - A - D. This loosens up the strings, and then to put it in the key of our song we will put a capo on the second fret making it now an E major chord. Those open strings are now E - B - E - G# - B - E. If you were to try to play these guitar parts in standard tuning it would be pretty tricky, and players in the folk tradition are typically keeping it simple so the open tuning really gives the song a cool vibe. If this is your first time playing in an open tuning, this is a great place to start.

After making sure the guitar is tune, pay close attention to the feel of the song. While there are only three chords throughout the track, making it a I-IV-V song, the feel and timing are everything! This is an easy song but to really nail those embellishments, and to sound authentic, you really want to pay attention to the details. This song is very fun to play and can open up your guitar vocabulary quite a bit using some very simple ideas.

We will be treating this song as a single guitar performance. At the end of the tutorial as an added bonus, I will give a quick rundown of how to play our single without the altered tuning to you can play with open chords as well. You can use any style of acoustic you want, as well as a nylon string or clean electric if that is what you are playing at home. What counts is that you are in the right tuning, and play with the feel and dynamics of the song.