M3 Guitar Resources

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Regular Tunings and M3

The guitars beauty comes partly from the fact that you can take any fingering1 and transpose it - without thinking, just by moving horizontally on the fretboard. However, when your playing becomes more advanced so that you start to learn arpeggios in all positions, you might get annoyed by the irregularity of the standard tuning: the B and G string are a major third apart while otherwise fourths are used, making vertical transposition not as trivial as horizontally. So far I could not find any satisfying explanation of why this tuning historically developed (please educate me!).

To me atleast, regular tunings (i.e. all string distances are equal) seem to be a better alternative, because they solve the issue of having to memorize multiple fingerings for the same arpeggios. You can freely shift around any fingering horizontally and vertically, without changing its intrinsic harmonic context.

A popular regualar tuning is the New Standard Tuning (NST), where exclusively fourths are used. M3 makes use of major thirds. This means:

1 ignoring open strings here

5M3 - Extended M3

Regular tunings are pretty neat, we can now learn arpeggios in peace. But I still enjoy some hefty djent, therefore I added another low string, but as drop tuning, leaving us with:

A - E - Ab/G# - C - E - Ab/G# - C - E


Note that differently to standard guitars, the inlays are placed regularly with a distance of four frets - exactly the number of (semi-)tones of the string distance. This means going one string up is equivalent to going one marker up.


Optimally, the strings should be adapted to the tuning. Since for M3 no sets are availabe, I like to buy them as single strings. Here are the specs I personally use:

frequency pitch class (period2) diameter wound
55.0 Hz A (1) .072 in / 1.829 mm *
82.5 Hz E (2) .054 in / 1.371 mm *
103.9 Hz G#/Ab (2) .038 in / 0.711 mm *
131.0 Hz C (3) .028 in / 0.965 mm *
165.0 Hz E (3) .022 in / 0.559 mm
207.9 Hz G#/Ab (3) .017 in / 0.430 mm
261.9 Hz C (4) .013 in / 0.330 mm
330.0 Hz E (4) .011 in / 0.279 mm

2 with 'period' I'm refering to what is traditionally called the octave. But imho this is not general enough; what has 'the eighth tone' to do with harmonic equivalence? The eighth tone of what?