In our last post we talked about tuning the guitar so that when you strum it open with no fingers on the fret board you are actually strumming a chord. This process of tuning the guitar to an open chord is called open tuning. There are as many tunings as there are chords. In the last post we just covered basic chords. We went through Major minor and suspended chords. Those examples were only three note chords also known as triads. These tunings are great for beginners. Let’s look at some 7th tunings.
In the example below we start with a D open tuning and we lower the first string to a C# This gives us a D Maj 7th tuning. We can also lower the 4th string to a C# instead of the 1st string to get the same 7th chord but a totally different inversion.
D Maj 7=D-A-D-F#-A-C#
D Maj 7=D-A-C#-F#-A-D
If you are already in open D tuning Then all you need to do is adjust one string. It is amazing what one string can do. If you make the C# a C then you have a dominate 7th chord.
If you are in one of the D7 tunings as shown above all you need to do is change one string. Lower the F# to an F to get a minor 7th chord.
D min 7= D-A-D-F-A-C
D min 7= D-A-C-F-A-D
As you can see we can re-tune the guitar open to get just about any chord we can think of. Every time we change the tuning we change the scale patterns and certain chord type patterns. There are a few things that are consistent. Every time you bar a fret straight across the neck you get the same type chord. The 4 chord is always found at the 5th fret. The 5th chord is always located at the 7th fret. This makes it easy to figure out 1, 4, 5 progressions.
The more music theory you know especially in relation to chords, the more you will be able to do with open tunings. If your music theory knowledge is limited then I would suggest you look at Advanced Guitar Lessons level 3. This level is located on this site under the free guitar lesson section.
An alternate tuning is a little different then an open tuning but the principle is still the same. You re-tune the guitar to capitalize on open strings. The difference is an alternate tuning is not necessarily tuned to an open chord for the key you want to play in. Alternate tunings are used to target a certain key. Dropped D is an example of an alternate tuning. It is also the most popular alternate tuning. This tuning is used to play in D and D minor.
Dropped D= D-A-D-G-B-E
Another example of an alternate tuning is Dropped D/G. This tuning is used to play in the key of G
Dropped D/G= D-G-D-G-B-E
Below is another alternate tuning that is popular for playing in the key of F and F minor. This alternate tuning is often called perfect 4th tuning.
Perfect 4th= E-A-D-G-C-F
While the tuning above is good for playing in F and F minor it can also be used to play in the key of D minor. If you are going to play in D minor then you can lower the E to a D.
D min Alternate tuning= D-A-D-G-C-F
Another good aternate Tuning is E-A-D-E-A-E. Tune the G string down to an E and tune the B string down to a A. You can use this tuning to play in the keys of A, Am, E, and Em
I started writing the script for Advanced Guitar Lessons level 4. It will deal entirely with open tunings and alternate tunings. Over 25 tunings will be covered in this video series. This will be the longest of all the Advanced Guitar Levels and it will be the only one streamed from YouTube.