Open C tuning

Guitar with open C tuningThe open C tuning is an alternative tuning for guitar.

To get the open C tuning on your guitar you tune it like this: CGCGCE. The strings that differ from the standard should be turned so the string tension is decreased and not the opposite. The exception is the second string which should be tuned up from B to C. This will increase the tension on that string, but only with a semi-step which normally don't result in string breakage.

More info

Including an octave perspective, the tuning is written C2-G2-C3-G3-C4-E4, meaning that the lowest string is a C note on the second octave, the second lowest string is a G note on the second octave and so on. Standard tuning reference: E2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4.

Chords

C

  • C chord diagram

Csus4

  • Csus4 chord diagram

Cmaj7

  • Cmaj7 chord diagram

C7

  • C7 chord diagram

Dm7

  • Dm7 chord diagram

Em

  • Em chord diagram

F

  • F chord diagram

G

  • G chord diagram

Am

  • Am chord diagram

Am7

  • Am7 chord diagram

Am11

  • Am11 chord diagram

Bdim/C

  • Bdim/C chord diagram

Comment

There are obviously plenty of possible chord shapes for C major chords. Dm chords are more problematic, if you want to play the Dm triad one possibility are XX2221.

The Em chord version has an omitted fifth and is more correctly written Em(no5), but is chosen here since it's a straightforward way to play the chord. An alternative that include the fifth is XX4443.

The get a more distinctive A minor 7th sound, X20045 is an option. The ninth is omitted in the Am11 version.

It's quite hard to find convenient shapes for many of the most common diatonic key chords in this tuning, but on the same time there are lots of possibilities for voicings.

Chord voicings

C9/D

  • C9/D chord diagram

C/E

  • C/E chord diagram

Dm11

  • Dm11 chord diagram

C/G

  • C/G chord diagram

Fmaj9/A

  • Fmaj9/A chord diagram

Cmaj7/B

  • Cmaj7/B chord diagram

C6

  • C6 chord diagram

Comment

This a one simply approach to play voicings by using identical or similar shapes with a clear pattern. You could for example alternate the shapes by involving a third finger on the third string. For example, would 570700 result in a Dm9 chord.

There are tons of possibilities for beautiful voicings with open ringing strings suitable for the key of C major and minor in this tuning. If you want to go more into depth of this particular guitar tuning, see the Essential Chords in Open C Tuning ebook with over 100 chord diagrams.

In the C minor key

This tuning can also function for C minor, especially using chord voicings which avoid involve the high E string as open.


Some examples of chord voicings:

Cm7: 000333
Fm/G: X00554
Gm7/C: 000301
Gmadd11: 000776
Ab/G: X00888
Bbadd9: 000 10 10 10
Eb6/G: 00012 12 11

Alternative open C tunings

Besides the CGCGCE version presented here, there are some “alternative C open tunings”. The alternatives are foremost CGCGGE (tuned as C5 chord) and CGCEGC. In addition, there are the Open C6 Tuning (CGCGAE) and the Open Cmaj7 Tuning (CGEGBE).



See also open D tuning and CGDGCD tuning

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