I've developed several tunings that would allow someone who has lost a limb or is missing fingers be able to play the guitar without the use of frets. While not being an amputee, I have a condition that often makes me too weak to hold my arm up in order to fret the guitar strings. After months of tweaking tunings, I came up with a few tunings that allows one to play the guitar with only one hand. I realized that this might be useful to someone who had lost an arm or a hand, and after contacting some people, I was directed to this site. As I’m not an amputee, please forgive me if I make incorrect assumptions, I’ve tried all of these techniques myself with only one hand. Please contact me with any comments at email@example.com.
A couple of notes first:
-Not all chords in the key will be able to be played on open strings
-As no fretting is required, if one only had their left hand, they could still play a right handed guitar by turning it upside down. Normally this is not an option for off handed guitarists, but as fretting chords is unnecessary it works for these tunings.
-Most people tune a guitar by playing first tuning the lowest string, and then playing the same note on two strings, adjusting the second string until the two notes are exactly the same. The problem is that this is close to impossible with only one hand. A regular guitar tuner allows one to accurately tune to the standard tuning, but these tunings are not standard. One could get help from another person playing the note on their instrument, or use an internet tuner to play the note for you. Also you could use a chromatic tuner. A chromatic tuner will tell you exactly what note you are on, and how flat or sharp you are. If you pluck the open string you can use the same hand to adjust the pitch. There are chromatic tuners online that allow you to tune using a microphone, and I know there is an app for the iPhone, or you could buy one.
-Replacing strings with one hand is difficult but possible, I've tried it to see if it can be done and I was able to do it.
-Be careful while tuning the low pitch strings, this tuning puts a lot of stress on the 6th string, so alternatively tune all strings a half step down (of course this changes the key), but this causes the 1st string to hang a little lose If you are worried about the stress on the strings you can use a lighter gauge, they tend to be able to withstand the stress a little better. If the highest pitch string is too lose, replacing it with a higher gauge string might solve the problem. If the strings are old, they are more likely to break.
-A capo can be used to play in other keys.
-I don’t know if it would be possible to attach a slide to a prosthetic, but if you could and you could maneuver it up and down to the neck of the guitar, you can actually play every major and minor chord, and with one of the tunings you could play any diminished chord as well.
If any one has any suggestions about this please email me.
Gmajor/Bminor tonic/dominant open tuning
In G major you can play I, IM7, iii, iii7,V
In B minor you can play i, i7,III, IIIM7, v, VI, and VIM7
Gmajor tonic/dominant/subtonic open tuning
In G major you can play I, IM7, iii, iii7, V, V7, and vii0
Gminor/Bbmajor tonic/dominant open tuning
In G minor you can play i, i7,III, IIIM7, v, v7 , and VII
In Bb major you can play I, IM7, iii, iii7, and V
G harmonic minor tonic/dominant open tuning
In G harmonic minor you can play i, iM7,III+, III+M7, V, V7 , and vii0
I hope someone finds this useful. I find playing on the guitar to be relaxing when I get upset about my condition.
by Taliesin Cochran. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.