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Thinking about trying some alternate tunings for the guitar? Feeling stuck and looking for ways to boost your creativity?
When you’re feeling in a rut as a guitar player and want to explore a few new possibilities, trying an alternate tuning is a great way to do it. An alternate tuning can make your guitar feel like a new instrument. It can allow you to look at your guitar in a brand-new way.
The possibilities for alternate tunings are of course endless. However, a few are more common than others and are great starting points.
Below we’ll look at the very best alternate tunings that guitarists of all kinds need to try.
1. Drop D Tuning (DADGBE)
Known as one of the simplest alternate tunings out there, drop D tuning is a great place for newbies to alternate tunings to start. This gives a nice booming sound and is especially a great choice for songs in the key of D. It’s often used in rock and metal genres.
To use this tuning, you’ll simply have to tune your low E string down one whole step to a D note.
2. Double Drop D Tuning (DADGBD)
This tuning is almost like drop D tuning but you’ll have to go one step further with tuning your guitar. In addition to the low E string, you’ll also need to tune your high E string down one whole step to a D note.
The double drop D tuning gives a bit of additional interest to your playing and will require the need for you to learn some new shapes for making chords. Legendary artists such as Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors have all used this tuning to great effect in the past.
3. Open G Tuning (DGDGBD)
Open G tuning is another great alternate tuning for beginners. The tuning allows your guitar to have a full, vibrant G chord when played open. This is one step further than the double drop D tuning and will require you to also tune your 5th string, the A string, down one whole step to a G string instead.
This tuning can give an interesting sound for both electric guitar and acoustic guitar players. However, it was most popularized by Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones who used it to great effect to craft a distinctive sound for the band.
By the way, if you’re interested in the open G tuning you may want to check out our previous article where we go more in-depth about the benefits of using this tuning.
4. Open D Tuning (DADF#AD)
A tuning that is often popular with blues players, the open D tuning is our last recommendation for a great alternate tuning to try. Blues players, as well as folk legend Bob Dylan, have made use of this tuning in the past. Bob Dylan, for example, makes heavy use of this tuning on his famous Blood on the Tracks album.
With this tuning, you’ll tune both E strings down one whole step to a D note. In addition to this, you’ll tune your G string down just one half-step to an F#. You’ll tune your B string down to an A note.
If you’re interested in getting started with slide guitar, this tuning is the one you’ll likely want to use.
5. High D Tuning (EADGBD)
Like the Drop D tuning, this is one of the simplest alternate guitar tunings that you possibly try. This tuning is actually the opposite of Drop D and you’ll be tuning the high E string down a whole step instead of tuning the Low E string down.
The chord shapes that you make with this tuning will be almost exactly the same as with standard tuning. However, the ringing high D note will add a different flavor to your playing that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
While this isn’t a common alternate tuning, its beauty lies in its simplicity. It’s a great first tuning to try if you want to start experimenting with tunings outside of the standard guitar tuning.
Trying These Alternate Tunings For Yourself
While there are plenty of other alternate guitar tunings you should try as you develop on the guitar, the ones above are a great place to start. These alternate tunings can help you open up your playing in a big way. And who knows? You may never want to go back to standard tuning again.
To tune your guitar to one of these alternate tunings, you’ll need a great guitar tuner. Be sure to check out our list of the best guitar tuners to find one that’s perfect for you.
Hi, I’m Harrison! I created this website to help musicians navigate the ins and outs of their craft and to help them choose new instruments and gear to add to their collection. I have 15 years of experience as a guitarist and singer and have also played many other instruments throughout the years including the bass guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.