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Slack Key Tunings

I divide slack key tunings into four general areas:

  • Major tunings;
  • Wahine tunings (major seventh chords);
  • Mauna Loa tunings (1st & 2nd string a fifth apart);
  • Whatevahs (misc.).
These names are not standard throughout the slack key world. This system is based on discussions I had in 1971 with Abraham Lukela on Lana’i and Lyons Alapa’i in North Kona. Some other people reverse the names or use others; but this system worked for at least three of us.

Kapakahi Bass
When I call a tuning "kapakahi bass," that means one of the bass notes is not in the regular chord, but is used for another common chord in the key. Taro Patch with a C bass is kapakahi on the 6th string--C is not part of the G chord. However, this tuning is good to play in C. My favorite F tuning is F wahine/Mauna Loa, which is kapakahi on the 5th string: you can play F & C bass for the F chord, F & Bb bass for the Bb chord, and Bb and C bass for the C7 chord.

The tunings I use a lot have an *.

The sound files are being rebuilt and most are presently disabled. Will be back up soon.
 Tuning bass  6   5   4   3   2   1   treble  
    | | | | | |  
 Standard 6 string tuning   E A D G B E Play
    | | | | | |  
Major Tunings
 Taro Patch (Open G)   D G D G B D  Play *
 Taro Patch (with C Bass)   C G D G B D  Play *
(With the two tunings above, a cutaway guitar, and a capo
you can play almost any Hawaiian song in almost any key.)
 G Major   D G B G B D  Play
 Major   D G D G B E  Play
 Bb Major   F Bb D F Bb D  Play
 Bb (kapakahi on the 4th string)   F Bb C F Bb D  Play
(Note that a lot of Bb tunings used to be C tunings on smaller guitars….)
 C (all the way)   C G C G C E  Play *
 C (kapakahi on 5th string)   C F C G C E  Play 
 Atta's C (C Major)   C G E G C E  Play 
 Double Slack C   C G C E C E  Play 
 Double Slack F   C F C E A C  Play 
 D Major   D A D F# A D  Play 
(Used more for blues and gospel, often in E major)
 D Major   D A D F# D F#  Play 
 F (with 5th string kapakahi)   F Bb C F A C  Play 
 Bb Major   F Bb D F Bb D  Play 
 Bb Major (Kapakahi 4th string)   F Bb C F Bb D  Play 
Wahine Tunings
 G Wahine   D G D F# B D  Play 
 G Wahine   D G B F# B D  Play 
 Bb Wahine   F Bb D F A D  Play 
 C Wahine   C G C G B E  Play 
 C Wahine   C G E G B E  Play 
 D Wahine   D A D F# A C#  Play  *
Mauna Loa Tunings
 G Mauna Loa   D G D D G D  Play  *
 G Mauna Loa   D G D G G D  Play 
 Maori Brown Eyes Ki   D G D E G D  Play *
 Bb Mauna Loa   F Bb D F A E  Play *
 Bb Mauna Loa   F Bb F F G D  Play 
 C Mauna Loa (old)   C G C G A E  Play 
 C Mauna Loa   C G E G A E  Play 
 D Mauna Loa   D A D F# G D  Play 
 F Mauna Loa/Wahine   F Bb C F A E  Play *
(This has a kapakahi 5th string the gives a good bass for the Bb chord.)
 F or Bb   F Bb C F A D  Play 
 In A sort of   D A C# E G# B  Play 
 In G with a D Bass   D A D G B D  Play 
 Old Mauna Loa   D G D E A D  Play 
 As above   C G E G A D  Play 
(These "Old Maunaloas" don’t fit into the Wahine/Maunloa scheme, but here they are.)
    | | | | | |  

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