Guitar chords Open D tuning

Guitar in open D tuning

Open D is one of the most widely used tunings for guitar. It's been used by Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, John Martyn, and many other acoustic guitarists.

It really is an easy tuning to enable you to get quick results on the guitar, and it sounds great.

Starting from standard tuning, which is E A D G B E from the lowest and thickest string:

Take strings 1, 6 down to D, slowly. You can use open string 4 as a reference note.

Now tune string 2 down two frets, and string 3 down 1 fret. You should now have an open D tuning: D A D F♯ A D.

Open D tuning chord shapes

Chord shapes

I've put these shapes into a sequence, the harmonised scale of D. The I IV and V chords (major chords) are D, G, A , and you can play these easily by using a barre chord shape.

The minor chord shape is the same for each minor chord, it's like an E chord in standard tuning, with the lowest two notes moved over a string.

So. with just two different chord shapes you can play most songs.

At the end I've shown another couple of useful chords, plus the way Joni plays Big Yellow Taxi chords, hammering on an E7 shape onto the barre chord.

Big Yellow Taxi is probably the best-known song to use this tuning. Try using a capo at fret 2, which will change the key to E, and brighten up the tone of your guitar too.

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Comments 3 comments

Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

Hi Jon

My guitar is upstairs right now but I'll be bringing it down in future to read your Hubs

I'm determined to learn the blasted thing :-)

Thanks for the Hub, marked that one up.

All the best


Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK Author

Hi Shinkicker - having your guitar out of its case and lurking is really important. I can see 5 of them at this moment!


PeterPatton profile image

PeterPatton 6 years ago

I had heard of Drop D tuning, but this was the first time I had heard of open d. Thanks for the great hub!

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