Open D Tuning

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What Is It?

Open D tuning, also called ‘Brady Clark Tuning’ is an open tuning for the acoustic or electric guitar.

The open string notes in this tuning are: D-A-D-F#-A-D (from low E to high E). It uses the three notes that form the triad of a D major chord:

D, the root note A, the perfect fifth and F#, the major third When the guitar is strummed without fretting any of the strings a D major chord is sounded. This means that any major chord can be easily created using one finger, fretting all the strings at once (also known as barring); for example, fretting all the strings at the second fret will produce an E major, at the third fret an F major, and so on up the neck.

Tuning To Open D

Watch the video to learn how to tune to open D:

How It’s Used

Open D tuning is very popular with slide guitar (or ‘bottleneck’) players, as it allows them to play complete chords using the slide. This tuning is also used for regular (non-slide) guitar playing. The full and vibrant sound it produces – particularly on an acoustic guitar – also makes it ideal for fingerstyle playing.

Many new chord shapes and sounds are available with open D tuning. It can offer a strong compositional element that produces markedly different tonal qualities than standard tuning. The full range of major and minor chords, with all their extensions, are available to the player. Many well-known guitarists have used this tuning at some point in their career. For example, Bob Dylan’s album Blood on the Tracks was first recorded entirely in Open D tuning. Richie Havens, Joni Mitchell, and Jason Swain have all released recordings featuring this tuning as well.

Note: Don’t confuse open D tuning with drop D tuning.

Example Songs That Use Open D

  • Mississippi John Hurt “If You Don’t Want Me”

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3 (1)

  • Nick Drake “One Of These Things First”

Here’s a song from the late Nick Drake in open D tuning. Use a capo on the 2nd fret to sound like the original recording.

Recordings That Use Open D Tuning

Bella Donna by Peppino D’Agostino
Will Ackerman – Ely
Alice In Chains – Over Now
Kokomo Arnold – Milk Cow Blues
Duck Baker – Leavin’ Home
Duck Baker – Mother’s Advice
Duck Baker – Pretty Fair Miss
Duck Baker – Sittin’ On Top Of The World
Barbecue Bob – Diddle Da Diddle
Robbie Basho – Variations On Easter
Blind Blake – Police Dog Blues
Rory Block – Mama’s Stray Baby
Luka Bloom – Girl
Luka Bloom – If I Were a Carpenter
Luka Bloom – Little Martha and Me (instrumental)
Luka Bloom – No Surprises
Luka Bloom – This Is For Life
Gregg Cagno – 39 In Requiem
Gregg Cagno – Mandolin Moon
Gregg Cagno – Mandolin Moon -> Look at the Wind Blow
Gregg Cagno – Ode To Mrs. Claus’ Joy
Gregg Cagno – We are Each Other’s Angels
Sam Collins – Slow Mama Slow
Ry Cooder – Paris, Texas
Ry Cooder – Thirteen Question Method
Peppino D’Agostino – Bella Donna
Ani DiFranco – Anticipate
Nick Drake – One Of These Things First
John Fahey – Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home
Blind Boy Fuller – Little Woman, You’re So Sweet
Ed Gerhard – Howl
Ed Gerhard – Isa Lei 01 First guitar
Ed Gerhard – Isa Lei 04 Ed Gerhard’s Hawaii
Ed Gerhard – Slide Improv
Ed Gerhard – Willy O’Winsbury: 01 First guitar
Goo Goo Dolls – Let Love In
Stefan Grossman – Brownsville Blues
Stefan Grossman – God Moves on The Water
Stefan Grossman – John Henry
Stefan Grossman – Sitting On Top of the World
Stefan Grossman – Vestapool
Richie Havens – Freedom
Mississippi John Hurt – If You Don’t Want Me
Elmore James – It Hurts Me Too
Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was The Night, Cold Was On The Ground
Blind Willie Johnson – God Moves On The Water
Blind Willie Johnson – Keep Your Lamp Trimmes And Burning
Blind Willie Johnson – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Nick Katzman – Tin Silver
Leo Kottke – Corinna, Corinna
Leo Kottke – Itchy
Adrian Legg – Irish Girl
Furry Lewis – Kassie Jones
Eric Lugosch – Marching Through Georgia
Mississippi Fred McDowell – Lord, I’m Going Down South
Mississippi Fred McDowell – You Got To Move
Blind Willie McTell – Wake Up Mama
Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi
Joni Mitchell – Blue On Blue
Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now
Joni Mitchell – Cactus Tree
Joni Mitchell – Chelsea Morning
Joni Mitchell – Come In From The Cold
Joni Mitchell – Come To The Sunshine
Joni Mitchell – Conversation
Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark
Joni Mitchell – Dreamland
Joni Mitchell – Free Man In Paris
Joni Mitchell – Get Together
Joni Mitchell – Gift Of The Magi
Joni Mitchell – I Think I Understand
Joni Mitchell – Judgement Of The Moon And Stars (Ludwig’s Tune)
Joni Mitchell – Just Like Me
Joni Mitchell – Man From Mars
Joni Mitchell – Night In The City
Joni Mitchell – People’s Parties
Joni Mitchell – Pirate Of Penance
Joni Mitchell – Shiny Toys
Joni Mitchell – Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Joni Mitchell – Solid Love
Joni Mitchell – Strange Boy
Joni Mitchell – You Turn Me On I’m A Radio
Sam Mitchell – Motherless Children
Sam Mitchell – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Sam Mitchell – Rainy Day Blues
Pierce Pettis – Swimming
Kelly Joe Phelps – Footprints
Chris Proctor – Bach to Ireland
Chris Proctor – Bach to Scotland
Chris Proctor – October’s Window
Chris Proctor – Solstice
Tampa Red – Boogie Woogie Dance
Preston Reed – Basta Pasta
Preston Reed – Bye Bye Boo Boo
Preston Reed – Fun with Wally
Preston Reed – Last Scene in September
Preston Reed – Southern Exposure
Preston Reed – Tiny Time Pills
Preston Reed – Wirewhip
REO Speedwagon – Time For Me To Fly
The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
Fred Sokolow – Furry’s Train
Third Eye Blind – Graduate
Third Eye Blind – So High and Solo
Third Eye Blind – Surfacing Submarine
Buzz Turner – Afternoon In Chiapas
Josh White – Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed
David Wilcox – Kindness
David Wilcox – Mighty Ocean
David Wilcox – Miracle
David Wilcox – Never Enough
David Wilcox – Wildberry Pie
Rev Robert Wilkins – That’s No Way To Get Along