Believe it or not, the first guitar effect tools were actually built right into the instruments back in the 1930s, making them bulky, expensive, and difficult to play. Of course, it was also thanks to these musical innovations that the electric guitar was able to take off in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s, becoming one of the most prominent instruments in American pop music.
While these effect tools have overtly affected guitars' tones and music for the past several decades, there is one kind of piece of sound equipment that has subtly guided the guitar to its current place of importance in the music industry -- the tuner.
Besides helping musicians get their guitars into the standard EADGBE tuning, guitar tuners can also be used to put instruments into alternative tunings, which produce new and unique pieces of music. To help you fully explore the dynamics of your favorite instrument, here are a few, cool, alternative ways guitar tuners can be used.
Drop D Tuning Drop D (DADGBE) is one of the easiest, alternate tunings out there. In fact, many musicians don't even need their guitar tuners when putting their guitars in Drop D. First, lower the low E a bit. Then, simply strum the first three strings -- the low E, the A, and the D string -- while tuning the E up. The guitar will be in Drop D once you can play a D5 chord (a D power chord, if you will) without any fingering. Such bands as Yellowcard and Paramore have released popular tunes in Drop D.
Whole Step Down Guitar tuners can even be used to put instruments an entire step down. Instead of tuning to EADGBE, simply tune the instrument to DGCFAD instead. This way, you can do things like playing an F chord instead of G chord, while using the G chord finger positions. It's a great way to translate heavier, lower songs into an acoustic element. Such bands as the Gaslight Anthem sound particularly good when playing a whole step down like this.
Open G Of all the different ways to use guitar tuners on this list, Open G is perhaps the most high-level. To put a guitar into Open G, tune it to GGDGBD so that when strummed openly, it plays a G-major chord. This kind of tuning is big in folk and jazz.
Online guitar shops have a plethora of unique, musical instruments for sale that can all increase a musician's tonal verbosity, but guitarists need not look farther than their gig bag when searching for a way to make their repertoire more dynamic. Guitar tuners can -- and should -- be used in a number of unique ways.