Artist developmentSongwriting

Three guitar tunings to spice up your songwriting

This is a beginner´s guide to alternative tunings

A guitar is a central instrument in many music genres, including folk music, country, rock and lots of indie singer/songwriter styles. The reason for this, is probably the versatility of a guitar, which can be used to add rhythmic (and even percussive) elements as well as melodic themes and allows for great soloing as well.

Sadly a lot of beginner and intermediate guitar players never experiment with different guitar tunings, always relying on standard tuning, which means that the guitar strings are tuned  like this:

E, A, D, G, B, E

Standard tuning is designed to play lots of easy open chords as well barre chords, which make it easy to transpose to different keys and to play around with chord inversions.
It also sets the scene for the so called “power chords” (which consist of just the tonica and the dominant (quint) and are played by pressing down one note on a bass string, and adding two notes, (on the next string (and the next)) at two frets higher.

Power chords are very popular in rock music.

Standard tuning definitely gives you all you need to play popular music. And yet, by experimenting with different tunings, you might step up your songwriting game quite a bit!

Here are some tunings, that you should defintely look into

Drop D Tuning

In Drop D Tuning you keep all strings as are in standard tuning, except for the low E, which you tune down one wholestep to D.

D A D G B E

This tuning brings in the beautiful deep D bass note and allows for a really cool, darker voicing of the D major chord, E Major and Minor and even G Major.

It is often used in country and Western music and offers cool basslines that are so much fun to play. Watch a real good video here:

Here´s a video of me playing with Drop D:

D Tuning

In  D Tuning you tune the strings as follows:
D G C F A D

As you can see all strings are tuned down by one wholestep. The beauty of this tuning is, that you can play the same chord shapes you are already familiar with from standard tuning, except that they are now all a wholestep lower. The shape of C Major for example would now translate into D Major.

The idea is to give your chords a darker, heavier tonality! Give it a try! 😉

Open G Tuning

In Open G Tuning you basically tune your strings to a G chord.

They go:

D G D G B D

When you strumm these open strings you are already playing a G chord

And here´s a video to give you an overview on chord shapes over G Open tuning:

Hope these tunings bring up some new ideas!

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