Frequently Asked Questions
About Acoustic Guitar

 

What Alternate Tunings Are There To Explore?

The best suggestion is to visit the Open Tuning Tutorial pages on this site for the best answer to this question.

Books/Pamphlets
Here are the names of some books/pamphlets that have chord diagrams for a variety of open tunings.

The Complete Book of Alternate Tunings - by Mark Hanson, published by Music Sales Corp. 

This book has been selling like hotcakes since its release in late 1995.  It is by far the most comprehensive book on the subject of alternate tunings.  There are chapters on 17 of the most popular guitar tunings, plus many of the derivative tunings that are based on these.  Each contains historical information, charts on how to produce the tuning from standard tuning, a unison and octave tuning chart, scales in keys appropriate to the tuning, numerous chord charts, listings of a variety of tunes and artists that use the tuning, plus "waterfall" effect passages that show you how to imitate the sustained sound of a harp that is so common in Celtic music.

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The Alternate Tunings Guide For Guitar - by Mark Hanson, published by Amsco.  This is Mark's earlier work on Alternate tunings.  This is more like a pamphlet reference.

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Open Guitar Tunings - by Ron Middlebrook, published by Centerstream (Hal Leonard Publishing). $4.95 (US). Information on over 75 alternate tunings.

Popular Alternate Tunings
Here is a list of some popular alternatives to EADGBE, along with artists/tunes that utilize them.

DADGBE (Dropped-D)
This is standard tuning with the 6 string E dropped to a D. Used mostly when playing in the key of D, so that one can have an open string for the tonic. Also used in the key of G, where the D rings open on the V Chord. No doubt, there are lots of other uses for this tuning also.

DADF#AD (Open D)
Used extensively for fingerstyle and slide guitar. Very commonly used for blues.  Good examples are Kottke's "Cripple Creek", "The Prodigal Grave" and "Watermelon". 

DGDGBD (Open G)
Used extensively for fingerstyle and slide guitar. Lots of the Turn of the Century country blues guitar players used this.  Good examples are Kottke's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring", "Vaseline Machine Gun", "Crow River Waltz".

CGCGCE (Open C)
Fahey & Kottke use it alot. Kottke's "Busted Bicycle" is in open C, as is Fahey's "
Sunflower River Blues" and "Revolt of the Dyke Brigade"

DADGAD (D Modal Tuning)
Pierre Bensusan plays just about his entire repertoire in this tuning.  His book, "
The Guitar Book", contains many beautiful arrangements in both tab and standard notation, as well as lots of Pierre's exercises for stretches. It even includes recipes and poetry!

DGDABE (Cross-Tuning??)

DGDGBbD (Open G minor)
Used frequently by John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman.

EADEAE (E modal)
Used extensively by Martin Carthy and other English guitarists.

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