Orkney chords for backup

I’d like to start this out by posting some of the common chords i use for backing up celtic music in the Orkney Tuning.  I created these using Fretty Charts.  I’ll be getting the full version soon, so pardon the light demo version watermark on the fretboard.

Without a capo Orkney tuning is CGDGCD, low to high strings.  The 6th, 5th, and 1st strings are dropped down a step, and the 2nd string is raised up a step.  As long as you dont have anything heavier than medium gauge string on your guitar you should be fine raising that second string.

In Orkney i usually play backup with the Capo at the 2nd fret. The chord diagrams are laid out from that perspective.  Treat the nut as if it were a capo at the 2nd fret in the pictures.

These some of the basic shapes i use when backing up irish music.  Alot of them contain no thirds, which sounds nice, and alot of the chord forms are movable.  Experiment and see what you come up with.

I’ll be posting some more chords and scales soon.

Orkney Chords




Comments 3

  1. Hi Anton. I was turned on to Orkney tuning by listening to Stephen Wake. This is becoming my new standard tuning. Do you have a guitar setup to use specifically for this tuning? I play a Huss and Dalton tom-r 25.5″ scale. I used medium gauge phosphor bronze strings. I am considering buying customized string sets with heavier string gauges on the 1st, 5th, and 6th strings to compensate for the reduced string tension, thinking that this might improve the feel and intonation. Am I off base by thinking this way? Is it worth the trouble? Is it chasing the elusive ultimate guitar setup rabbit? What are your thoughts on this? Thank you. Ken Carr

    1. Post

      Thanks for the comment Kenneth. I don’t have a specific guitar for Orkney, i have found most of my guitars work fine. The scale length on my guitar is 25 3/8″. I use medium gauge strings as well. Sometimes I tune to standard, or I might get some heavier basses like you mentioned. I find at times the low C on the 6th string can get a bit floppy. If you were going to have a guitar only for Orkney and never really tune it up a customized set might work fine. I think John Doyle uses heavier bass strings for some of his various tunings.

      I don’t think it would be a waste of time, maybe just order a few customized sets and see how it feels. If I had more acoustics I might do the same thing, but I only have two I regularly play, so I like to keep them pretty flexible. Let me know how it goes!

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