Tunings

two-handed tapping guitar ZenTapper uncrossed bassbottom tuningThis particular tuning is recommended, and custom tunings also available.

NOTE: If you’re new to two-handed touchstyle music, please know it can be tricky visualizing tunings in your head, and tricky to discuss them clearly. Learning to play the instrument is relatively easy. And just like with guitar, becoming an advanced player and re-learning, using alternate tunings, is an advanced subject.

So don’t let ‘alternate tunings’ become a barrier. If you’re a newbie, then just accept the freedom you have, and order our recommended tuning to begin your learning. We predict you’ll discover the recommended tuning to be the most powerful, and realize that your ZenTapper is already designed so that changing the tuning is easy down the road if you later wish to experiment.

Recommended Tuning versus Other Tunings

If you are just entering the wonderful world of two-handed touchstyle play, then simply get our recommended ‘BassBottom’ tuning. You will discover, as musicians all over the world have discovered, that the BassBottom tuning gives you these advantages –

  • fastest learning
  • greatest simplicity
  • what you already know from bass or guitar transfers fast!

If you’re a newbie, then you don’t have to even think about it. Your ZenTapper will standardly be delivered with the BassBottom tuning, and specifically the ‘Uncrossed BassBottom‘ tuning, our recommendation for easiest play, and fastest learning.

If you already play touchstyle, you may be a musician who likes to experiment with other tunings. For example, perhaps you’ve already learned the unusual ‘Inverted-Fifths’ tuning often delivered on Chapman Stick(tm) instruments. In that case, you may want the same Inverted-Fifths tuning you already know.

If you’re a Chapman Stick player, simply specify the Inverted-Fifths tuning. Normally we think the wide-neck ZenTapper is easiest to play with the ‘Uncrossed’ string arrangement, so that is ‘Uncrossed Inverted-Fifths‘.


The following discussion of tunings and string arrangements is for knowledgeable and experienced touchstyle musicians –

Recommended: Uncrossed String Arrangement

The neck on the ZenTapper is wide. With thumbs on the edges, it’s certainly possible to play with the ‘crossed’ string arrangement most commonly used on Chapman Stick, Warr Guitar, and Mobius Megatar touchstyle instruments.

However, because of the wider neck, most musicians find the ‘Uncrossed String Arrangement’ to be a better choice. In fact, we designed the neck of the ZenTapper to be played normally using the Uncrossed String Arrangement.

Crossed versus Uncrossed

In the older, historical ‘crossed’ position, the bass stringset is closer to your face as you play the instrument. Your left hand normally plays the bass strings, so that means that your left-hand is ‘crossing over’ the melody strings to play the bass strings. On Mobius Megatar and other narrow-neck instruments, this is a very comfortable hand position and works well.

In the more recently developed ‘uncrossed’ position, which has been favored by many bass players coming into touchstyle, the bass stringset is on your far left as you play the instrument. This means that the bass stringset is closer to your left hand, and your left hand is operating much as it does when playing an electric bass.

Most-Popular Tunings

BassBottom (with Uncrossed String Arrangement). Bass strings are tuned in fourths, just like a standard 6-string bass. This tuning is shown in the photograph above. Recommended.

Inverted-Fifths (with Uncrossed String Arrangement). Good for Chapman-Stick players who have already learned this tuning, which uses bass strings tuned in fifths, and ascending in the direction opposite to what is normally done on basses and other stringed, fretted instruments. (If you’re a Chapman Stick player, you’ll understand this; if you’re not a Chapman Stick player, you can safely ignore it if you wish.) Available, no extra charge.

Other String Arrangements, Tunings

If you are buying a factory-built instrument, and you’d like to have the ‘Crossed String Arrangement’ which you may be already using on your Mobius Megatar, Warr Guitar, or Chapman Stick instrument, then we will do a custom set-up for a small shop fee.

If you also want us to make a custom pickguard, flipping the pickups positions — not really needed, but some folks request it occasionally — then there is an additional shop fee to build a custom pickguard.

We can also set up, for an extra shop fee –

‘Mirror Fourths’ (with Uncrossed String Arrangement). For some people, having the bass strings ascend in the opposite direction to what one normally finds on basses and guitars, just *feels* better. (For most technical-job males, the standard BassBottom will just *look* more understandable.)

‘Mirror Inverted-Fifths’ (with Uncrossed String Arrangement).

Plus some other tunings (call to discuss), such as Crafty, thirds, etc. The primary limitation on these tunings is that for some tunings our ‘extra-length’ string stock will do the trick, but not for all tunings.

Tunings Resources

To learning more about Crossed versus Uncrossed String Arrangements, and Mirrored tunings, see the article by Daniel Schell in the Mobius Megatar newsletter, that you’ll find archived here –

Crossed-Hands and Uncrossed-Hands Arrangements

Our sister company, Mobius Megatar, has lots of information about tunings, comparisons, string gauges, and even a funny ‘sermon.’ See here –

Mobius Megatar Tunings Info Pages

For more information about tunings, and to hear your fellow touchstyle musicians discuss and debate tunings, join up here –

Tappistry.Org’s world-wide touchstyle forum

Got Tuning Question?

Take advantage of these information sources, but realize you can also call us if you need help on a tuning question. How to reach us? Details on the Contact Page!

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