DADGAD Tuning Guitar chords

DADGAD tuning for guitar

DADGAD is one of the alternative tunings for guitar, a tuning which has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially for Irish and fingerstyle acoustic music.

Normal guitar tuning is EADGBE, starting with string 6, the lowest sounding and thickest string.

DADGAD involves tuning down strings 1 and 6 to D, then string 2 to A. It's very easy, and now the guitar should have a great bass response and a very full sound.

In the chord diagrams below, the headstock of the guitar would be at the top of the picture, with the six strings as the vertical lines. Try playing D5 - it can be used instead of D.

DADGAD chords

Playing songs

The first six chord pictures are for playing Spencer The Rover, a traditional English or Scottish song made popular by John Martyn. It's an easy song in 3/4 or 6/8 time, and it's great.

Two variants of Em are shown - the first one is close to the original recording, but the chord shape is a bit difficult, and the next shape is probably a better bet.

The D major scale is shown - you could play it on string 1, string 4, or both together in octaves as shown here. This scale works with all the chords so far. (chord grids 9 and 10)

More DADGAD chords

More DADGAD chords

Here are some more examples of chords, this time in the context of a song. Using a capo will brighten up the tone of your guitar, and also make it easy to play chords with wider stretches. The last box shows some single notes that will work with the chords.

D minor

You can also play in the key of D minor, and some examples of the chord shapes are shown on the last line. The scale is now different - it would be like the major scale, but now at frets

0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12

Harmonics

You can use natural harmonics - all the notes at frets 5, 7 and 12. They sound really good in this tuning. Tip - when playing harmonics, touch the string very lightly directly above the fret, not where you would normally play.

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Comments 7 comments

flagostomos profile image

flagostomos 4 years ago from Washington, United States

Hmm, how does this tuning compare to drop d? The only difference I see is the tuning on the second string. I love playing some older rock songs in drop d tuning, just gives it a different tone.


Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 4 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Check out Pierre Bensusan on YouTube to hear the sound of this tuning.


bewhuebner profile image

bewhuebner 4 years ago from Virginia, USA

I absolutely love playing in DADGAD! Such an open sound... Al Petteway is also a good example of DADGAD as a tuning. Thanks for the helpful chord chart!


Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 4 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Hi - it's different enough to really add to your sound. Cheers, Jon


jimmar profile image

jimmar 4 years ago from Michigan

Thanks for the simple explanation. I will come back to this when I start to expand my capabilities, which will be soon I hope. I play strictly by ear and sight. My teacher plays something and I repeat it like a monkey....but I am starting to experiment a little. Thanks again, I keep coming back!


jimmar profile image

jimmar 4 years ago from Michigan

Thanks for the simple explanation. I will come back to this when I start to expand my capabilities, which will be soon I hope. I play strictly by ear and sight. My teacher plays something and I repeat it like a monkey....but I am starting to experiment a little. Thanks again, I keep coming back!


Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 4 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

There's nothing wrong in playing by ear - since it means you memorize everything, and that's the best way.

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