Guitar tuning is a fundamental aspect of playing the instrument, and musicians often experiment with various tunings to achieve unique sounds and expand their creative possibilities. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into different guitar tunings, including the widely used standard tuning, the popular drop D tuning, and two additional common tunings that can add depth and richness to your musical repertoire.
Standard tuning is the most common tuning for guitars, providing a familiar foundation for beginners and seasoned players alike. In standard tuning, the strings are tuned to E-A-D-G-B-E, starting from the lowest-pitched string (low E) to the highest-pitched string (high E). This configuration allows for versatility and ease of playing, making it the go-to tuning for a wide range of musical genres.
Drop D Tuning
Drop D tuning is a slight variation of standard tuning that involves lowering the pitch of the low E string to D. The rest of the strings remain in standard tuning (A-D-G-B-E). This tuning is favored by many rock and metal guitarists for its ability to produce heavier and more powerful sounds. Drop D tuning facilitates easy power chord formations and opens up new possibilities for riffing and soloing.
Open G Tuning
Open G tuning is a popular alternative tuning that results in a G major chord when strummed open. To achieve this tuning, you’ll need to tune the strings to D-G-D-G-B-D. This tuning is notably used by blues and slide guitar players, as it allows for easy slide techniques and produces a rich, resonant sound. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is known for employing open G tuning in many of the band’s iconic songs.
DADGAD tuning is an alternative tuning that has gained popularity, particularly in folk and Celtic music. In this tuning, the strings are tuned to D-A-D-G-A-D. DADGAD offers a unique and open sound, making it well-suited for fingerstyle playing and creating lush, atmospheric compositions. Artists like Pierre Bensusan and Jimmy Page have explored the expressive possibilities of DADGAD tuning in their music.
Experimenting with different guitar tunings can be a rewarding journey for guitarists seeking to expand their sonic palette. While standard tuning provides a solid foundation, drop D, open G, and DADGAD tunings offer exciting alternatives, each bringing its own character and possibilities to your playing. Whether you’re into rock, blues, folk, or beyond, exploring these tunings can unlock new creative avenues and help you discover your unique musical voice.
Bonus! Songs in each tuning
- Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E):
- “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page’s iconic guitar solo in this classic rock masterpiece is played in standard tuning, showcasing the versatility of this tuning in creating both intricate arpeggios and powerful chord progressions.
- “Wonderwall” by Oasis: Noel Gallagher uses standard tuning for the timeless chords of “Wonderwall,” demonstrating how this tuning can be employed for acoustic ballads.
- Drop D Tuning (D-A-D-G-B-E):
- “Everlong” by Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl’s riff-driven masterpiece “Everlong” features drop D tuning, emphasizing the heavy and dynamic sound achievable with this tuning in the rock genre.
- “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana (Unplugged version): In this acoustic rendition, Kurt Cobain uses drop D tuning, adding a grunge twist to David Bowie’s classic.
- Open G Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D):
- “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones: Keith Richards often uses open G tuning, and “Honky Tonk Women” is a prime example of the infectious groove and slide guitar work characteristic of this tuning.
- “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page utilized open G tuning for the iconic slide guitar in this blues-infused rock track, creating a haunting and powerful atmosphere.
- DADGAD Tuning (D-A-D-G-A-D):
- “Black Mountain Side” by Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page employs DADGAD tuning for the instrumental track “Black Mountain Side,” showcasing the tuning’s suitability for creating a folk-inspired, acoustic soundscape.
- “Bensusan” by Michael Hedges: Michael Hedges, a master of alternate tunings, used DADGAD for many of his compositions, including the intricate and mesmerizing “Bensusan.”