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.
Learn chords to play in Drop D tuning on the guitar.
Did you know that there are capos the can simulate drop tunings by only affecting some of the strings. Check, for example, out NS Artist Drop Tune Capo by D'Addario (#CommissionsEarned).
Learn chords to play in the CGDGCD (a.k.a. Csus2) 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.
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.
List of alternate tunings
Major open tuningsOpen 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
Minor open tuningsOpen 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 n/a
Open Gm D - G - D - G - Bb - D
Open Am E - A - E - A - C - E
Open Bm n/a
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)
"Dsus2 tuning" D - A - D - E - A - D | Chord chart DADEAD Tuning (pdf)
"D7sus4 tuning" D - A - 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)
"Robert Fripp tuning" C - G - D - A - E - G
"Eno Tuning" E - A - D - G - C - F
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")