Open Tuning Basics

Learn how to get to Drop D, Double Drop D, Open G, and Open D tunings, and get creative with your guitar!

View the full lesson at Open Tuning Basics | JustinGuitar

I’ve felt a bit clueless lately as to what to practice, so I checked out this lesson and ended up returning my Epiphone LP to open G and doing the Brown Sugar lesson. It’s indeed a lot of fun! :slight_smile:

But I was wondering if open minor tunings are a thing and if anyone uses them. What I had in mind was open E at first (E, G#, B, G#, B, E) but I’ve got a feeling that tuning down more than a tone makes the strings a bit wonky and more prone to detuning. So I thought that an open G# minor tuning (D#, G#, D#, G#, B, D#) would be easier on the strings.

What do you think? Is this something already done by someone?

I think D minor open tuning is a thing: DADFAD. I know the old bluesman Skip James was noted for using this tuning, but I’m not sure how common it is/was. Adrian Woodward did a lesson on a Skip James song and talks a little about the tuning: Devil Got My Woman by Skip James | Solo Acoustic Blues - YouTube

(Rewatching the beginning, he mentions Robert Johnson’s Hellhound on my Trail as being in the same tuning; a tab I found of that song specifies E minor tuning: EBEGBE).

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Thanks, I’ll check it out. With open tunings, I think it’s often a matter of slapping a capo on to raise the key.

I spent some time with open D as it just sounded great, but so far I found the use of open tunings a bit limited. I’ve had a hard time figuring out grips that were comfortable and useful (like minor chords or 7ths). I think I’ll stay with standard tuning for the time being and revisit open tunings when a song calls for them.

What a great lesson this one is. Super enjoyable.

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Ive played other peoples songs in alternate tunings before like Rolling Stones but as far as noodling around , nothing . My feeling at the time was I should try my best to to stick to one tuning (open E) and attempt to “master” that first . As I thought it would be less confusing . Slide guitar in G seems like it’s worth a go in the future


This was a good lesson to start with, practicing guitar again. I’ve made all the mistakes over the years and always tried to find some shortcut to learn faster. Now I try to train more calmly and more focused, so maybe this time I will succeed better. Thank you Justin for this and all your lessons. All of you who are on the same path, remember to enjoy the journey.

Hi Vesa and welcome !

Your story sounds a familiar one and certainly resonates with me. Glad you have found Justin you are in the right place to succeed this time.

Amen to that !

Why not tell us a little more about your journey

And like you say, enjoy the ride.



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OK, ignore my naiveté. I am a beginning beginner - are you telling me that guitarists do the tuning changes on the fly right before they start a song on stage? OR is that why they have so many guitars on stage - they are each tuned differently? My mind is blown reading about these open tunings.

Some have a guitar for each different tuning some tune on the fly. Most tunings are not that hard to do on stage and only take a minute once you know how to do them. The easiest is Drop D all you do is tune the Thickest E string down one tone to D. I use Drop D a lot but play guitar on a regular bases with guitar player that never use anything but standard tuning.
Then there is Keith Richards who had a Tele build with 5 strings and keeps it in an open G tuning.

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