I’ve been exploring the CFCGCD tuning a bit more lately. Last summer at guitar camp John Doyle was talking about how he used it, and I messed around with it some, then got distracted by something else. Then a few issues ago Acoustic Guitar Magazine featured him on the cover, and they covered the CFCGCD tuning a bit. So that prompted me to revisit it. I figured out a few basic chords and have listed them on this a PDF below.


In my opinion this tuning really shines for celtic backup and melody playing when you capo at the second fret. That gives you DGDADE. I love using the Orkney tuning, which is CGDGCD, for my fingerstyle arrangements as most of you probably know. I have worked out a good system for backup in that tuning as well with a capo at the second fret, giving me the notes DAEADE. I like the chords and that face that I can get alot of Root-octave-unison voicings. My ear tends to gravitate towards that sound when backing celtic tunes. But Orkney is not great for flatpicking with a capo at the second fret. The lack of an open D note on the 4th string makes alot of melody playing more difficult than I would like. D is such a pivotal note in celtic music. I could just retune to Drop D, which I have done some in the past and when I play in my duo with Rich. But I have never been happy with my backup in Drop D, and the chords are alot of work for the left hand. I probably just don’t do it enough.

Anyways, messing around with this CFCGCD tuning has been alot of fun. The app I use to generate the chord charts does not work so well when you want to indicate a capo. So I would recommend putting a capo on the second fret and trying these same chord shapes. Just transpose the chord names up a whole step. G becomes A, C becomes D, etc.

Coming up, I will post some tunes I have been flatpicking i this tuning, along with notation and video. If you look at the 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 1st strings you have the notes GDAE, which is just like the fiddle. So alot of melody lays really nicely on the fingerboard.

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