Benefits of Open Tunings: Why You Should Do it

Every generation there is a new wave of people that decide to pick up a guitar. Each generation has their guitar heroes – Chuck Berry, Hendrix, Van Halen – that inspires people to try to express their emotions and/or talents on the guitar. As a result there are millions of guitarists out and about and unfortunately most of them are playing THE EXACT SAME THINGS.

Walk into any guitar store and hear the same old riffs being played with varying degrees of skill. In our societies current “achievement driven” mindset guitar playing often gets boiled down to a competition. Who can play louder, faster, more technical, who can tap the cleanest, or sweep pick behind their head…

Let’s you and me start to put an end to this by playing what we want to play how we want to play it. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with virtuosity – it is important to push yourself to grow as a musician. The thing to remember is to do it for the intrinsic rewards and benefits and not for the ego boost.

If you don’t want to be one of those people, or if you are simply interested in exploring your guitar further, seriously consider playing in alternate tunings. One of the best ways to push yourself out of your musical comfort zone is to begin playing in alternate tunings, particularly open tunings such as “open D”, “G”, “C”, or “A”. Below you will find a list of the top reasons you should consider expanding your horizons into open tunings:

1. Break Out of Your “Rut”

Every guitarist hits a rut or two. Walls arise that seem to  stop us in our tracks whether it be due to a limitation in skill, theoretical knowledge, or inspiration. Open tunings are as close to an instant fix as one can get.

Even a skilled guitarist can be humbled by learning something new. Note that this does not mean that open tunings are hard to learn, they are often very easy to learn. Set your ego at the door and rediscover exactly what it is that you love about playing the guitar. Playing in an open tuning gives you an entirely new canvas to paint on.

2. The Joy of Chords

Related to the last point, playing the same chords and same old chord progressions you are used to can suddenly become fun again. Often chords in open tunings have a much more unique sound than they do in standard tuning. Keith Richards is said to compare playing in open G tuning to the sound of an orchestra.

You can create some fun versions of chords yourself if you get experimental and utilize your open strings well. Fret all the A notes you can at once while leaving your two A strings open and strum. How did that sound?…

 3. New Styles of Play

Tired of playing the same old power chords with the same simple pentatonic riffs? Is everything you are playing or writing starting to sound the same? Let’s fix that!

Open tunings are great for playing blues and folk BUT they can also be used in rock and non-western “world” music. Not only that, but open tunings are a joy when using a slide and/or playing finger-style.

There are many more reasons to consider playing in open guitar tunings, but these are ones to think about for now. If we’ve piqued your interest head over to the homepage and see how to tune to open d tuning, then check out some basic open d chords!

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