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Open Tuning Basic Lesson
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Open tunings mean freedom from rules! The only guide you need in open tuning is your ear - if it sounds good, then it IS good. Standard tuning requires lots of memorization of strange chord shapes with little apparent logic, but open tunings reward your observation with simple fingerings to remember, and plenty of pleasing sounds. It is almost impossible to sound bad in open tunings, since there are so many beautiful matching tones. Learn to listen and enjoy the sounds of a moving note against the background of the tuning. Try working with pairs of strings, one or two frets apart, and always look for patterns



This page will serve as a primer for three of the basic tuning families: Open D, Open G, and Open C. All of these tunings have lots of roots and fifths, and are made up of only 3 different notes. There is a simple relationship to be found between pairs of strings, which repeats itself several times in each of these tunings. Much discovery can be made by simply observing the consistent behavior of pairs of strings in each tuning.

D TUNINGS:

All D tunings have the root 3 times, on the 6th, 4th, and 1st string.
The fifth is on the 5th and 2nd strings. The 3rd string is tuned as a major 3rd, a minor 3rd, or as a suspended 4th.

. D MAJOR D MINOR

D SUS
(often called DADGAD)

1 D D D
5 A A A
1 D D D
3 F# F G
5 A A A
1 D D D



G TUNINGS:

Every fingering position you figure out in D tuning will work in G tuning, one string further towards the treble. All G tunings have the root twice, at the 5th and 3rd strings. The three D notes are in the same position as in D tuning, 6th, 4th, and 1st, but now they are the fifth of the G tuning. The second string is now the determiner of major, minor or suspended.

G MAJOR G MINOR G SUS G ADD 9
5 D D D D
1 G G G G
5 D D D D
1 G G G G
3 B Bb C A
5 D D D D



C TUNINGS:

The bottom end of this tuning with its root-fifth-root bass strings, is similar to D tuning. However the top end uses the first string as the "determiner" string. Therefore, every fingering that works in G tuning will work in C tuning, yet again one string further towards the treble. Locations of roots (the C notes) are the 6th, 4th, and 2nd strings. The two G notes are still found at the 5th and 3rd strings, but instead of roots as in G tuning, they are now the fifth in the key of C.

C MAJOR C MINOR C SUS C ADD 9 DOUBLE C
1 C C C C C
5 G G G G G
1 C C C C C
5 G G G G G
1 C C C C C
3 E Eb F D C




The C family of tunings is very wide open for creative improvising and composing music. The Double C is great for figuring out all the major and minor sounds to be found on pairs of strings containing roots and fifths. Very little to memorize, only try and listen. Also the 2 strings tuned in unison makes a 12-string sound when playing slide, and also enables some quick tricks by using adjacent frets. All of the C tunings are musically very enjoyable to work with, and are free of any particular style.

The following chart shows the relationship of intervals between the three tunings, using MAJOR as an example: