ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Guitar Tunings - Open C Blues

Updated on December 1, 2015

Open C tuning

Guitar can be played in a number of different tunings, and this can make it a very versatile instrument, as the chords contained within different tunings are almost infinite in number. This tuning is not the most popular - other tunings such as DADGAD and open G are far more widely used. For solo performance it does have a lot of advantages though.

My other hub Guitar Tunings - Open C tuning has more info.

  • Standard tuning, low to high in pitch, is E A D G B E.
  • Open C tuning is C G C G C E.
  • Strings 6, 5, 4 are lowered, string 2 goes up one semitone or one fret.
  • The tuning now has a lot of bass, and generally sounds very full and powerful.
  • You can play harmonics at frets 5, 7 and 12
  • You can play slide blues using the same three frets.

Open C tuning

Guitar tab examples

This is for a 12-Bar blues, and you can play slide or bottleneck guitar parts - which is a lot of fun. Guitar tab has been extensively covered on hubpages - but basically the thinnest string (string 1) is the top line, and the thickest string ( string 6) is at the bottom. The numbers are frets numbers, which show you which fret to play in. Guitar tab is a very quick and easy way to learn to play, because you don't have to read music notation.

Check out some great slide guitarists on Youtube -

  • Ry Cooder
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Lowell George

Try using a glass slide on your little finger. This leaves you with other fingers free to play chords and riffs.

Tab starts with a turnaround intro - the chord grids above might help learning the shapes. It's kind of an A7 shape, moved across one string. When the riff starts on line 2, it's played in a shuffle or boogie-woogie rhythm. You can approximate this by saying humpty-dumpty, humpty-dumpty - but don't try this in a public place.

After 4 times, it's up to fret 5 barre, with the extra note on and off. Back to the first riff, only 2 bars this time - then G, F, C and turnaround. None of this is written in stone and can be adapted, but keep to the bar lengths. It should sound familiar if you've heard 12-bar blues before, and this is actually hard to avoid!

Barre chords - you don't need to play all the strings, in fact it will sound better if you just play the lowest four.

Using the slide - if you are new to this, the slide should make only the lightest contact with the string, right above the fret rather than behind it as you normally play. A wobble or vibrato can be made by rocking the slide back and forwards of the fret position, but ending in the right place, which is directly above the fret and in line with it. To get the maximum effect, move the slide as slowly as possible, so that you can really hear the movement in pitch. You almost never want to have the slide static - the vibrato is like that of a good singer, and it makes the note sustain properly.

More tab examples

From w/ slide (with slide) I've written out some easy riff ideas that work with these chords. You can play them without slide too. When you are confident at playing the riff and chords part, try stopping the sequence and inserting some of these lead breaks. It's not that easy, but will sound great.

General advice - anything at frets 0, 3, 5, 7, 12 is going to sound right. For notes in fret 3, if you make the note slightly flat it will make it sound more authentically blues.

What's a riff? - a repeated pattern of notes. It sounds way better than wandering up and down a scale pattern.


Joni Mitchell is the preeminent example of a songwriter who uses open tunings - her whole sound is created with them. Chord voicings that just aren't possible in normal or standard tuning can be explored. Joni songs often use Open D as in Big Yellow Taxi.

As Open C isn't widely used, there is a lot of potential for discovering new sounds and making your own guitar sound a bit unusual.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      5 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Eugene - you're welcome. let me know if there is something you'd like me to cover in the hubs. Cheers, Jon

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi Jon, just wanted to say I appreciate the information you've put together across your Hubs. I've found it very useful!


    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi - start with first position chords, Dylan songs etc - singing along and tapping out rhythms will both help.

    • writerlee profile image


      7 years ago

      This is great! I agree with Phillbert, I'll have to check back on your hub once I get better at the guitar... I'm about a week into teaching myself. Thanks!

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks Philbert. It's good to learn 12-Bar blues in normal tuning too.

    • Phillbert profile image

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Very cool! I'll have to come back and read this again when I get semi-decent at playing the basics!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)