Ready to Start Playing in Open D Tuning?
“Open D Tuning” is a common alternate tuning for the guitar. Whereas traditional or “standard” tuning of guitar strings is E-A-D-G-B-E, the strings of a guitar tuned to open d will be: D-A-D-F#-A-D. For those unfamiliar with guitar tuning the notes from left-to-right are arranged in order of the guitar strings from low to high (thick to thin is easy to remember).
Below is an example video of how to tune a guitar from standard tuning to open d:
FYI: You can check the price of this handy Snark Chromatic Tuner at Amazon. If you can’t watch the video, or simply want to read about how to change tunings we can walk you through it with the details below:
- Use the fourth string as a reference for tuning your sixth (fattest) string. In standard tuning the 4th string should already be tuned to D, so pluck both the fourth and sixth strings simultaneously – slowly tuning down your sixth string until it matches the fourth.
- Now that you have tuned the sixth string to D (and your 4th string is already at D), use this to tune your first (thinnest) string to D also. Once you have gotten past step one this should be a breeze!
- Lower the second string (second thinnest, a B in standard tuning) to an A using the fifth string (second thickest) as a guide.
- Lower the third string to F#. It is easiest to use the fourth fret on any of your D strings to do this.
- Now you should be all set!
If you followed along with the video above and have gotten in tune, feel free to try out a couple of basic chords. There are some common and easy chords that you can play on just the first three frets. Try G or D minor:
How will I use Open D anyway?
As with most open tunings, open d guitar tuning is commonly played with a slide and commonly associated with various forms of blues music. One of the main reasons is that with this tuning a full chord can be played without needing to fret the neck of the guitar. Though popular with slide guitarists, open d also lends itself well to “finger-picking” guitar players as well.
The fact that one can play a full chord without even fretting a string comes in very handy for playing barre chords and slide guitar. Even if you are new to open tunings it is easy to see why: if you can play a chord with all notes strummed open, you can easily barre your finger straight across any fret and play a chord there too. Then, if you are feeling like really having some fun, stick a slide on your finger and play your heart out on that guitar!
Another very appealing thing about open d is that the lower tuning provides a very rich, deep tone. When you couple that with interesting and sometimes challenging new chords, open d becomes a great way to overcome any boredom, or inspirational blocks you’ve had while playing in standard tuning.
Open D guitar tuning has been used on popular songs from the dawn of the blues to more contemporary music including rock and roll. For example, you may not have known that open d tuning was used in Pearl Jam’s big hit from the 1990’s, “Even Flow”.
As you can tell, open d tuning is very versatile and lends itself to a wide array of genres. So, if you are in fact interested in all things open d (or alternate tunings in general) stick around. This site is here to provide you with chords, scales, videos, lessons and more. The goal is to update this site often to bring you a wealth of information on this subject. Though this tuning is our main focus, we will cover guitar in a more general sense as well and not just limit ourselves to open d. This includes slide guitar and other alternate tunings.
Download the free eBook sample:
The Essential Book of Open Tuning Chords and Scales
✓ Open D Tuning Chords and Scales
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If you are interested in learning how to absolutely master blues guitar and you want full, in-depth lessons – head over to Blues Jam Session. They offer jam tracks, hours of video lessons and more! Thanks, and keep on pluckin’, TuneMan