Common Alternate Guitar Tunings

By changing the tuning of one or several strings of a guitar, we can play combinations of notes that we previously couldn’t. Many of these “alternate tunings” have been explored extensively by ambitious musicians. These alternate tunings open up a whole new world for guitarists willing to look beyond the standard E A D G B E tuning.

Drop D Tuning – D A D G B E

Although this tuning has been around for a long time, the Seattle grunge movement in the early 1990’s brought about it’s popularity. Drop D tuning was used by bands like Nirvana, partly because it made playing power chords with one finger possible.

DADGAD Tuning – D A D G A D

There is a whole subculture of guitarists who play exclusively in DADGAD tuning, as it lends itself well to certain types of styles (celtic music, for example). But, DADGAD has also been explored by Jimmy Page and other rock guitarists.

Open D Tuning – D A D F# A D

When the open strings are strummed in this tuning, the sound of a D major chord is produced. This has made this tuning a favorite of slide players, who can simply lay their slide straight across one fret to play chords.

Open G Tuning – D G D G B D

Keith Richards has always loved this one, and has written many classic Rolling Stones riffs in open G. Many slide players also prefer open G, which is tuned to a G major chord.

Open C Tuning – C G C G C E

Slightly more obscure, open C is tuned to a C major chord, and utilizes a very low sixth string to give the guitar a big, full sound.