Open D Tuning

Open D Tuning

Playing an open D tuned guitar can be quite easy, using just one fretting finger. This article comprises information on open D tuning.
It was a mystery to me, how the tuning was, or the style seemed to come out of nowhere, it obviously had roots in America going way back, there was nothing like it for me I'd ever seen before. - Eric Clapton

There are hundreds of guitar techniques that are to be learned by beginners in the field. After you are familiar with basic guitar playing techniques on the acoustic as well as the electric guitar, you can move on to further advanced levels of the skill. One of the advanced skills in guitar playing that is worth a mention is tuning the musical instrument differently. Beginners might have a misconception that there is only one way in which guitars can be tuned. However, you need to understand that apart from the standard tuning pattern, there are several different methods which can make the guitar sound awesome. Before knowing what open D tuning is, let us understand about different guitar tunings.

Variations in Guitar Tunings

Playing guitars that are tuned in a variety of tuning patterns is a concept greatly associated with professional musicians and guitarists. Apart from the typical 'E-A-D-G-B-e' tuning format, the strings of the guitar can be tuned to other tones as well. This allows the guitarist to try out different chords and positions on the fingerboard and produce unique tones which are practically impossible with standard tunings. These types of tunings are referred to as alternate guitar tunings. In these tunings, few or all strings are tuned to different open tones for music variations such as complicated sounding guitar riffs.

Open Guitar Tunings

One of the very popular and widely used variation of alternate guitar tuning is open tuning. In this tuning, all six strings are tuned in a manner that when strummed without fretting, they collectively sound like a major chord. Therefore, there is no need for the player to hold particular positions on the fingerboard for playing a major chord. Instead, major chords can easily be played by placing just one finger across the fret on all strings. This is also known as barring. These types of tunings are used by guitarists from all music genres, especially slide guitarists.

What is Open D Tuning?

Open D tuning is done when all strings of the guitar are tuned in the D-A-D-F♯-A-d pattern. So when the strings are strummed without holding any notes on the fretboard, they give out a D major chord. Similarly, if you barr the second fret throughout and strum, this would give you an E major chord. Barring the third fret will give you the F major chord, and the open D tuning chords progress accordingly as you go up the fretboard. This tuning enables you to create unique tones, riffs, chords, and leads on the guitar. Refer to the figure in the following which will show you the difference between a standard tuning and an open D tuning.

Standard Tuning

e---------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------
G--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------

Open D Tuning

d---------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
F#-------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------

Variations in Open D Tuning

d---------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
F--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------

d---------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------

d---------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------
A--------------------------------------
D--------------------------------------

Musicians who have used Open D Tunings
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Elmore James
  • Bob Dylan
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Jason Swain
  • Richie Havens
  • Stone Gossard
  • Mark Tremonti
  • Barry Gibb
  • Dave Wakeling
With this type of tuning pattern, playing open D tuning songs certainly becomes very easy. If you want to do open D tuning online, there are various online guitar tuners which you can use. Open tuning is the best way to play major chords in the easiest possible manner. Note that these are just a few variations of open D tunings. There are many which can be created as per the tones you like.
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