Former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti revealed why he would have ‘run out of ideas a long time ago’ without ‘alternate tuningss’ in a new Guitar interview. The haters are wrong, Pearl Jam is not the secret to Creed’s incredible sound!
You used some down-tuned guitars on the album [‘A Dying Machine’]; what tunings were they in?
“Gosh, so many different tunings: every record I’ve ever done has had a big variety of tunings.
“The biggest difference on this record from anything in the past is that there’s more songs in standard tuning. Songs like ‘Bringer of War’ and ‘Take You With Me’ are in standard tuning. I think there might be one more, maybe ‘From the Sky’ is in standard, but Drop-D standard.
“A lot of times, I’m having to tune down for my voice, but on this record, I had, like I said, three maybe even four songs [in standard tuning]. ‘As the Silence Becomes Me’ is a very different tuning for me that I’ve used once before, on ‘This Side of Fate’ from the last Alter Bridge record.
“It’s tuned way higher than we did in Alter Bridge: it’s kind of tuned above standard on most strings, but hard for me to explain, as I can only tune it that way by ear. ‘Trust’ is another song with a new tuning I’ve never used before.
“With me, I’ll write a song and I’ll hear a melody play out in my head and then, if my fingers and the guitar layout is such that I can’t play the song, I’ll tune it differently so I can play it.
“With ‘Trust,’ I heard this open, natural harmonic line that just wasn’t working out because the low string was off a whole step, so I just tuned the bottom string up to F#.
“The whole guitar is tuned down a step-and-a-half and then I tuned the bottom string up a whole step from there. When you do those things, your chord voicings – and certain open strings or whatnot – just sound great and different, and give you a big open canvas when you’re writing.”
Some players tune guitars to their song ideas and many use tunings such as open C to inspire new song ideas. Do you ever try different tunings just to see if it inspires you?
“That’s all I ever do, yeah! If I didn’t have alternative tunings, I would have run out of ideas a long time ago!
“When I sit down and write, I’ll pick up my guitar and play with whatever tuning it was in when I last played, and as soon as I hit a wall, I’ll tune it to the next closest tuning I enjoy and then I’ll keep going from there.
“Every now and then, I’ll hunt down a new tuning that I just kind of stumble upon. The more I do that, though, the harder it gets live, because I have to keep on backing up guitars for these new odd tunings. So I’ve got to travel with a lot of guitars.”
If you’re working with C# tuning, do you have any baritone guitars that you bring out on the road?
“I have a signature baritone hybrid that sits most comfortably in C# standard; anything that’s lower than that, I just use that guitar. I think the lowest I go is about a step down from there.”
Back in 2017, Mark told What Culture on why he’s so fond of alternate tunings:
“That’s the magic with alternate tunings – you’re forced to compose something that’s not gonna sound anything like what most people are doing with a pentatonic scale and whatnot, ’cause your scales are modified and you’re kinda looking at a blank canvas.
“All your shapes are different, but that being said, I enjoy trying to create something brand new out of the new configuration of how the strings are laid out.”