Alternate tunings

Guides to alternate tunings. Drop tunings and open tunings plus an overview on the bottom of the page. Apart from standard tuning, there are a multitude of possible alternative tuning for guitar among some or more popular and established than others. Drop D tuning together with Open D and Open G are three of the most popular alternate tunings.

Drop tunings

Guitar with drop D tuning

Drop D tuning

Learn chords to play in Drop D tuning on the guitar.

Guitar with Double Drop D tuningDouble Drop D tuning

Learn chords to play in Double Drop D tuning on the guitar.

Guitar with drop C tuningDrop C tuning

Learn chords to play in Drop C tuning on the guitar.

Guitar with drop B tuningDrop B tuning

Learn chords to play in Drop B tuning on the guitar.

Did you know that there are capos that can simulate drop tunings by only affecting some of the strings. For example, check out NS Artist Drop Tune Capo by D'Addario. See also emulated tunings guide.

Open tunings

Guitar with open D tuningOpen D tuning

Learn chords to play in open D tuning on the guitar.

Guitar with open E tuningOpen E tuning

Learn chords to play in open E tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open F tuningOpen F tuning

Learn chords to play in open F tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open G tuningOpen G tuning

Learn chords to play in open G tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open A tuningOpen A tuning

Learn chords to play in open A tuning on the guitar.

guitar with DADGAD tuningDADGAD tuning

Learn chords to play in the DADGAD tuning on the guitar.

guitar with EADGBD tuningEADGBD tuning

Learn chords to play in the EADGBD tuning on the guitar.

guitar with CGDGCD tuningCGDGCD tuning

Learn chords to play in the CGDGCD (a.k.a. Csus2) tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open C tuningOpen C tuning

Learn chords to play in open C tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open Dm tuningOpen Dm tuning

Learn chords to play in open D minor tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open Gm tuningOpen Gm tuning

Learn chords to play in open G minor tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open Cm tuningOpen Cm tuning

Learn chords to play in open C minor tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open Cmaj7 tuningOpen Cmaj7 tuning

Learn chords to play in open Cmaj7 tuning on the guitar.

guitar with open D5 tuningOpen D5 tuning

Learn chords to play in open D5 tuning on the guitar.


"Tuning to a chord" is the theme of open tunings. Concerning the "drop tunings", these are tunings in which one or more strings are tuned down one or more steps. As a side note: in classical music, altered tunings are sometimes referred to as scordaturas.

Open tunings feature many characteristics, for example ringing notes. Whereas chords with only one or two pressed down strings can sound indistinct in standard tuning, these can sound great in open tunings. This is because the duplicated notes of the tunings. It can be compared with how chords are arranged on a piano with the notes spread over a wide range.

List of alternate tunings

Major open tunings

Open C  C - G - C - G - C - E
Open D  D - A - D - F# - A - D
Open E  E - B - E - G# - B - E
Open F  F - A - C - F - C - F
Open G  D - G - D - G - B - D
Open A  E - A - E - A - C# - E
Open B  n/A
Open Cmaj7  C - G - E - G - B - E
Open Dmaj7  D - A - C# - F# - A - D / D - A - D - F# - A - C#

Minor open tunings

Open Cm C - G - C - G - C - Eb
Open Dm D - A - D - F - A - D
Open Em E - B - E - G - B - E
Open Fm F - C - F - Ab - C - F
Open Gm D - G - D - G - Bb - D
Open Am E - A - E - A - C - E
Open Bm n/a
Open Dm7 D - A - D - F - A - C

Dominant open tunings

Dominant open tunings aren't as versatile as major and minor counterparts. Here are some options:

"D7 tuning" D - A - D - F# - A - C | Chord chart Open D7 Tuning (pdf)
"C7 tuning" C - G - C - G - Bb - E

Misc alternate tunings

Other less common tunings that have been used by various artists (because of that sometimes called personal tunings) and in various situations:

"G6 tuning" D - G - D - G - B - E | Chord chart DGDGBE Tuning (pdf)

"Fmaj9 tuning" F - A - C - G - A - E | Chord chart FACGAE Tuning (pdf)
"Dsus2 tuning" D - A - D - E - A - D | Chord chart DADEAD Tuning (pdf)
"Alternative Open C tuning" C - G - C - G - G - E | Chord chart CGCGGE Tuning (pdf)
"D7sus4 tuning" D - A - D - G - C - D | Chord chart DADGCD Tuning (pdf)
"G7sus4" F - G - D - G - C - D | Chord chart G7sus4 Tuning (pdf)
"Mountain Minor tuning" D - G - D - G - C - D
"D7sus4add13 tuning" D - A - D - G - B - C
"Dsus4/C tuning" C - G - D - D - A - D (songs: "Rusty in Blue", "Tracks in the Dust" by Crosby, Stills & Nash)
"Emsus4 tuning" E - B - E - G - A - E
"Robert Fripp tuning" C - G - D - A - E - G
"Eno tuning" E - A - D - G - C - F
"Quadruple C tuning" C - G - C - G - C - C (suitable for Arabic music)

One of the artists most associated with alternate tunings are Joni Mitchell, known for utilizing around 50(!) different tunings in her song catalogue. Here is some of these (the names are not formal, but a way to describe the tuning by what chord that is generated if all strings are played open):

"Cadd9 tuning" C - G - C - E - G - C (songs: "Amelia")
"Dadd9 tuning" D - A - E - F# - A - D (songs: "Cherokee Louise")
"A7sus4/D tuning" D - A - E - G - A - C (songs: "Cool Water", "Slouching Towards Bethlehem")
"G7sus4/C tuning" C - G - D - F - G - C (songs: "Night Ride Home")
"Gadd9/D tuning" D - A - D - G - B - D (songs: "Free Man in Paris")
"G/C tuning" C - G - D - G - B - D (songs: "Cold Blue Steel, "Sweet Fire")
"B7sus4 tuning" B - F# - B - E - A - E (songs: "The Magdalene Laundries")

Some of the non-standard tunings are inspired by other string instruments, such as the banjo and the lute (the lute tuning is mostly appearing in older classical pieces from the Renaissance arranged for the guitar):

"Double C tuning" C - G - C - G - C - D
"Lute tuning" E -A - D - F# - B - E

Another category of altered tunings are the Nashville sound tunings. For example the E(2)-A(2)-D(2)-G(2)-B-E, which looks like normal but has the four low strings tuned one octave higher. (This will almost certainly lead to string breakage, therefore, the options are to change to string with very light gauge or use a partial capo, which press down the two highest string on the 10th fret.

Using alternate tuning for easier fingerings

Alternate tunings can also be used to make it easier to play chords (although this method has some drawback as well). By tuning the guitar as E - A - D - G - C - E (only the 2nd string differ from the standard), the fingerings will change as the examples below show:

C: X32000
D: XX0222
F: XX3201
G11: 320003
Am: X02200
A: X02210
B: XX0432
Bm: XX0422

Using a capo

By using a capo you can sometimes easily switch between open tunings. It can also be an advantage to use a capo in some cases and avoid the extra tension that is involved for some open tunings.

Open D tuning Capo 2 = Open E tuning
Open G tuning Capo 2 = Open A tuning
Open Dm tuning Capo 2 = Open Em tuning
Open Gm tuning Capo 2 = Open Am tuning

Notice that all open tunings aren't symmetrical. You can't for example capo your Open D tuned guitar on the fifth fret and get an Open g tuning.

Tabs and standard notation

For most players, tablature is more preferred than standard notation. Since alternate tunings doesn't change the conditions for tabs it will alter the memorized positions of notes on the sheet in standard notation.

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