How To Tune A 12 String Guitar Like An Oud

If you have ever wanted to tune your 12 string guitar like an oud then this guide will help you out. An "oud" is an instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern music and dates back to over 5000 years ago. Oud's can have 11 or 12 strings, and share a lot in common with European lutes. Like a 12 string guitar, an oud's strings are tuned in doubles, which means that two strings are tuned to the exact same note. There are several different tuning variations, including Arabic (F, C, G, D, A, F) and Turkish (D, A, E, B, A, E), though this guide will focus on the more popular Arabic scale.

To start you will need:

  • 12 String Guitar (tuned to the standard E, B, G, D, A, E)
  • Electronic Tuner
  1. Start with the high note. You want to start with the highest string (the thinnest) and work your way to the lowest (the thickest). When tuned standard, a 12 string guitar's highest open note will be an E. However, for Arabic tuning you will want this note to be an F.  Tighten the tuning key for the first string until your electronic tuner confirms the note is an F. Do the same thing for the second string, as this is what makes a 'double' note. 
  2. Strings three and four. Again, standard guitar tuning dictates that the third and fourth strings on a 12 string guitar will be tuned to a B. These strings need to be tuned to an C, so tighten the third and forth tuning keys until your electronic tuner confirms that both notes are a C. 
  3. Strings five and six. You are in luck for this step, as the fifth and sixth strings of a 12 string guitar should already be tuned to a G. To be sure, check your electronic tuner to make sure both strings are tuned correctly.
  4. Strings seven and eight. For an oud with Arabic tuning, the seventh and eighth string should be tuned to a D. Again, your guitar's seventh and eighth strings should already be tuned to a D, but check with your electronic tuner to make sure.
  5. Strings nine and ten. The ninth and tenth strings on your guitar need to be tuned to an A. As with the previous two steps, your guitar should already be tuned to an A, but check your tuner and make any necessary adjustments.
  6. Strings eleven and twelve. The final two strings of your 12 string guitar need to be tuned to an F. You should be starting with an E, so tighten the tuning keys until your electronic tuner confirms that both strings are tuned correctly.

This is how it should look when you are done (from highest note to lowest): FF, CC, GG, DD, AA, FF.  Each pair of strings should be tuned to the exact same note, so it is a good idea to check each string after your first tuning as this will ensure that your 12 string guitar sounds exactly like an oud.  There are many different oud tuning variations, so have some fun and experiment a little. 

 

 

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