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What is Liberty Guitar and Liberty Tuning?

About "Liberty Guitar"

"Liberty Tuning" is the name that celebrated guitarist Harvey Reid gave to a new guitar environment he discovered in 2011. After two years of research and study, he began releasing a series of books and recordings at the end of 2013 that illustrate the extraordinary musical power of this idea, and map out the vast "hidden world" of music in every fingerboard. Reid uses the term "Liberty Guitar" to refer to the use of this idea to play guitar music.

Because it requires an unusual (but simple) "hyper-tuning"– a partial capo combined with a slight change in tuning, this ingenious idea has remained hidden for the entire 400+ year history of the guitar. Yet any guitar can be put into this tuning in as little as 5 seconds, and there is no need for special guitars or strings. Now almost anyone can start playing good-sounding guitar music right away. Instead of months of effort to master a 3-chord song, it can be done in minutes. The basic chords all use ultra-simple repeating shapes that move around the fingerboard almost "magically." This simplified approach to chord fingering leads naturally into any existing method, and is a perfect way for anyone to quickly experience what it is like to strum chords and sing a song.

Liberty Tuning is mysterious and a little confusing, but it causes musical ideas to map themselves onto the guitar fingerboard in a whole new way, with easy and orderly fingerings, geometric patterns, and a simplicity that no one ever imagined. The tuning is interesting to any player, songwriter or composer, but its most remarkable feature is that a staggering amount of great-sounding music can be generated using only 2 fingers of the fretting hand. The music is easier to play, but it sounds familiar and "normal," essentially like guitar music always does. Almost any song can be played, often in more than one key, without using the "dreaded" barre chords.

Liberty Tuning is an unprecedented breakthrough in getting people playing recreational campfire-style guitar who have not otherwise been able to master conventional basic guitar chords. Other simplified guitar methods that use tunings, weird plastic devices that fit on your fingerboard or partial capos all have big limitations, and only allow a few simple chord changes in a single key. Most of them involve substitute chord voicings, with added or missing notes that sound wrong on a lot of common songs. In Liberty Tuning, children as young as 4, or people with as few as 2 working fingers on the fretting hand can play millions of great songs with all sorts of sophisticated chords, using fingerings that are easier and much better-sounding than other simplified guitar methods, and in many cases they sound better than "conventional" guitar.

It makes guitar easier and better-sounding than even basic ukulele chords. Men, women and children can strum easy chords to popular songs they know and like, in keys suited to their voices. This means that once you learn how it works, almost anyone can have an immediate success experience with any guitar. And if you already have a baritone ukulele, you can also do amazing things with it using the Liberty Guitar idea. It is the closest thing ever to "instant music."

The Liberty guitar project has now brought us a versatile and exciting new guitar tool. We have worked to manufacture the new Liberty FLIP capos that were designed for this purpose. They are the key to opening the door to the new music, and though a small child can put one on the guitar to sing songs, they also happen to be the best professional full and partial capos available.

To showcase the power of the tuning and attract some attention, Reid began his unveiling of this new idea by releasing the The Liberty Guitar Album, a collection of 14 solo guitar instrumentals, played with only the 2 middle fingers of the left hand. If you have studied the guitar, you know how hard it is to keep melodies, chords and bass lines going even with 4 fingers, and it does not seem possible that Reid has played this body of music this way, without barre chords or hard stretches. The album features several keys and styles, with major, minor, modal and blues tonalities and a deep repertoire of nice chord voicings and extensions. It basically sounds like any other solo guitar album, with a big, rich, resonant sound, and full arrangements of a variety of kinds of songs. It got a 5-star review in the leading guitar magazine!

Liberty Tuning is easy to do, but tricky to understand. It was introduced with 2 recordings and 9 books, available as CD's & paper books or digital music downloads and multi-media digital books. Because of the graphics and media-intensive content of the digital books, they are initially available only as digital books in the iTunes bookstore, and work on iPads or Apple computers running Mavericks OSX or newer.

© 2016 by Harvey Reid