Whenever I play a clinic or concert, people are always fascinated to know how difficult it is to play in altered Tunings, and why would anyone want to do it?
So here are some answers…..
It’s not difficult if you’re prepared to concentrate. That’s it. End of.
And why would you do it? Because altered Tunings give your Imagination a kick in the pants, they stimulate your creativity, and they sound great. Big expansive ‘Piano Type’ chords, that you just can’t get any other way on a guitar.
From the Top:
Probably the easiest and best known alternative tuning is to simply de-tune your bottom E string down a tone to a D.
Known as “Drop D“, this tuning crops up everywhere from Classical to Country and even Hard rock. Just try playing a big ‘ole D chord with that bottom string ringing out!
Next up for me would have to be DADGAD. Probably the best known alternate tuning, it has a distinctive Celtic sound all of it’s own. Tune the strings exactly as they’re written with the Bottom E string tuning down to D, the A,D & G strings staying put and finally the B string down to A and the Top E down to a D.
DADGAD brings it’s own rewards if you set out to master it. Some players like Pierre Bensusan play in no other tuning.
Try tuning to DADGAD and then playing some regular open chord shapes. Listen to the strange exotic ‘Jazz’ type altered chords it gives you….
Here’s. Few regular chords in DADGAD for you to be getting on with…..
Probably the next best known tuning, and one that’s very simple to get to from DADGAD is open D or DADF#AD where the G string is dropped half a tone to a F#.
If DADGAD is seen as Irish or European, then this is surely synonomous with the USA.
Just try sliding a bottleneck up your open strings, and you’ll hear the basis of every desert highway scene you ever saw.
Open D Minor:
Drop the F # to an F natural, and you have the Open D minor tuning.
A weird one:
One of my own favourites, and pretty rarely used is this….. EAC#EBE.
I have nothing to say about this tuning except that when I discovered it, I wrote a tune for my wife, which is probably about the most requested tune I play. It’s called Lana’s Garden, and it’s here……
DGDGBD is the way you get to open G.
Again, I always associate it with the USA, as many Blues and Rags were written using it.
If you drop the B to a Bflat, you get Open G minor, which is also very interesting and one that I use here……..
Drop C is basically just Drop D but with each string tuned a further tone down giving you CGCFAD, Open C however is much richer and gives you a lovely open C chord
Finally, if you drop the E string to an Eflat you get Open C Minor.
I hope these tuning ideas inspire you, give them a try and see what music you make…