Each guitar tuning gives a different sound experience to guitarists. You can go from cheerful, and bright to dark and moody just by changing your guitar’s tuning. In the following article, we’ll show you 5 essential alternate guitar tunings every guitarist should know.
Note: Before you start learning alternate guitar tunings, first make sure that you are familiar with your guitar strings and that you’re able to tune your guitar to the standard tuning.
What are Alternate Guitar Tunings?
Alternate guitar tunings are simply a different way to tune your guitar from the standard E-A-D-G-B-E tuning. They can change the sound of your guitar and be used for various purposes. They allow players to access different tonalities or patterns on the guitar.
Best Alternate Guitar Tunings
Depending on your genre of preference, you may choose to try one or a few of these common alternate tunings.
1. Drop D
The most common and easiest alternate tuning for a guitar is Drop D. Simply tune your low E string (the 6th string) down one step to get drop D tuning, using the fourth D string as a reference.
Drop D tuning is widely used in much heavy metal and rock songs, including “Outshined” by Soundgarden, “No More Tears” by Ozzy Osbourne, and “All Apologies” by Nirvana, etc.
DADGAD tuning is kind of like an extended version of Drop D tuning. In this tuning, you tune the 6th E string down to D, the B string down to A, and the 1st E string down to D.
DADGAD tuning is commonly found in Celtic music and in a few other genres like rock, folk, and metal. British folk guitarist Davey Graham, who was inspired to explore the tuning after hearing an oud player in Morocco, made it famous. Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page used DADGAD tuning for the song “Kashmir.”
Similar to DADGAD, DADF#AD is an extension of Drop D tuning, but the notes in this one make up one large D Major chord.
Also known as Open D Tuning, this alternate tuning is popular with slide guitarists and those who specialize in the fingerpicking style.
In this tuning, you drop the 6th E string to D, the G string to F#, the B string to A, and the 1st E string to D.
The alternative rock band Wilco uses DADF#AD tuning in their song “Kamera” from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
GABDEG is ideal for rock, dream pop, as well as metal sounds. In this tuning, tune up the 6th E string to G, the D string to B, the D string to D, the B string to E, and the 1st E string to G. The 5th A string is the same as standard tuning.
Often referred to as Open G Tuning, DGDGBD features a G Major chord and is ideal for guitarists who like to play with a slide.
In Open G Tuning, you tune the 6th E string down to D, the A string down to G, and the 1st E string down to D. The 4th D and 2nd B strings stay the same as standard tuning.
Blues, rock, and folk players typically use this alternate tuning. Seminal blues guitarist Robert Johnson used this tuning in his song “Walkin Blues.”
Above are 5 basic alternate tunings for the guitar that you should try. You can experiment with more alternates with Guitar Tunio Pro. Our guitar tuner offers an extensive list of tunings so that you can refresh your sound and expand your creativity. It is available on the App Store and Google Play, check it out now!
Now, select an alternate guitar tuning and try it with your guitar.