Checking Out Open G Tuning

Open G Tuning: A Brief Intro

I recently spent some time in Open G tuning, or “Low” Open G Tuning, as it’s sometimes called. I was following the lead of Don Ross in his fingerstyle guitar lessons, where he walks through the details the tuning and provides some example material.

In short, the Open G tuning alters the standard guitar tuning so that the open strings, when strummed all together, make a G major chord. Like this:

Open G Tuning

Standard -> Open G
E -> Tune down whole step to D
A -> Tune down whole step to G
D -> Keep the same at D
G -> Keep the same at G
B -> Keep the same at B
E -> Tune down whole step to D


I won’t do an exhaustive rundown of the technical details of the tuning, for that you can check out Don’s lessons.  But here are just a couple resources for those interested in trying it out:

  • You can easily get the voicings for chords and scales in this tuning by using the Guitar Tuning Database website, which I’ve written about a bit here.  This site has an incredible amount of material for exploring alternate and open tunings.
  • If you’re looking for tabs, you can find a list of some songs here. There were surprisingly few rock songs in Open G. Mostly classic rock era songs from Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, Doobie Brothers, etc.  Even discussion threads (like this one) at sites like turn up a relatively short list.
  • However, Joni Mitchell charted this territory fairly well.  Of course she would, alternate tuning were her thing, right? You can get transcriptions for The Circle Game here and Both Sides Now here.  Both Sides Now seems like a particularly good song if you want to explore the tuning’s chord shapes, since it’s mostly strumming.
  • Now if you’re going to play slide guitar, there’s a bit more material to work with in terms of songs, and even a starter lesson here from the Guitar World magazine website.

As far as my own personal playing, I’m still exploring Open G. There weren’t really any “a-ha” moments…yet.

Some of the open chords sounded nice, but the scales seemed unwieldy. I think I need to hear some compelling examples in this tuning to truly pique my interest.

And to that end, I’m interested to hear…

…Are there good songs in Open G from some of the new modern fingerstyle players like Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour?

I’m certain there are. If you know any, please drop them in the comments below.