Open G Tuning Guitar
Open G tuning for guitar
Guitar can be played in many non-standard tunings, and Open G tuning is one of the best - not only is it really easy to get started in this tuning, but also the reduced string tension brings out all the tone of acoustic guitars. My other hubs have info on the way it has been used by bands and songwriters, and applications such as slide guitar.
Open G tuning is used by many of my favourite guitar players, including Ry Cooder, Joni Mitchell, and Keith Richards.
Here we are just going to use two finger chords and keep it really simple.
First, tune your guitar to Open G, which is D G D G B D low to high. The strings that you need to change are 6, 5 and 1. Do this fairly slowly, and take the string down to below the target pitch - when you bring it up to pitch it will stay in tune much better. By the way, this is also applicable to standard tuning on the guitar.
Acoustic Guitar in Open G - Paul Brady
Open G tuning chord shapes
Harmonised scale in G
If you play the chords in this order you will get a harmonised scale of G, that is, all the chords in the key of G in the same order as the major scale. The chord names are approximate, and note that you are not generally going to use string 6 (low D) - this is not that useful, and it's the reason the Keith Richards removes that string entirely, as it kind of gets in the way. So, play these chords on the middle 4 strings only to begin with, even though string 1 is OK too.
Key of G: G, Am, Bm, C, D or D7, Em, F sharp m7b5, G.
This is the harmonised scale of G, the building blocks of thousands of songs.
The major chords are G, C, and D and these are referred to as the I IV and V chords (1,4,5) - the name derived from their position in the major scale, which uses the notes G, A, B, C, D, E and F sharp. Virtually all songs will use these three chords together, and very often one or two of the minor chords.
Next set of chords
The next set of chords are two- note chords on string 4 and 3, the middle two strings. As we have not changed these strings from standard tuning, anything you play in standard tuning on these two string will remain the same. With the drone strings going, these harmony notes sound good - and again I have notated the Harmonised scale of G. As the scale goes so far up the neck, it is only practical on electric guitars, but on acoustic guitar you could just use a part of the scale.
You can also play C and D as barre chords at frets 5 and 7. (see diagram)
Last line- play strings 5,4,3,2 open for a G chord, then the Am7 type shape.
Finally, these other shapes can be used, and they are related to the first set of chords.
Guitar chord tips
It's a good idea to arpeggiate the chords, that is playing them one string at a time. You get a better picture of the sound of the chord this way, and it's also a useful way to check for buzzes, and that you are playing the right bass note for the chord.
I usually classify chords in three categories, as Joe Pass used to do.
That way, you're not getting hung up on detail, but understand the function of the chord.
More by this Author
- EDITOR'S CHOICE3
Guitar Lesson - playing lead guitar, with scale diagrams and basic theory.
Guitar chords lesson on latin jazz chords, Bossa Nova chords.
Guitar Lesson on guitar chords in Open G tuning. Rolling Stones guitar style, Keith Richards guitar chords. Rolling Stones guitar parts, Guitar and Open G tuning.