Open G Tuning Structure
It’s that time of the week again and for all you aspiring musicians (or veterans who simply feel like making sure we’ve got our stuff right), let us get straight into our next alternate tuning. This one might require a little extra piece of equipment for optimal performance… or a glass cup. You’ll see.
There’s a lot to like with the open G. If you thought playing a power chord on drop D was easy, wait until you get a crack at this one! Essentially, you will be tuning your guitar to be able to produce a full G chord with all the strings being “open,” meaning strum all the strings while not touching a single fret, like your girlfriend. There are a few ways to do this, as there are a few ways to get a G chord, but we will be focusing on the standard format used most.
Let's Get This Done
The basic and most used method for open G requires you to tune to D-G-D-G-B-d from low string to high. If you’re starting from standard E-A-D-G-B-e tuning, simply drop the low E a full step down to D, drop the next string [A] a full step to G, and finally take the high E and drop that a full step down to D. If you’re familiar with the wonderful “barre chord,” you’re essentially moving the notes that aren’t being held down by your index finger and moving them so that they all hit on the same fret, letting you play the full chord by just laying your finger along a single fret, or with all the strings “open.” Eureka! See how that works now?
Standard Guitar Slider
Grab That Glass
Okay, so now that you have your rig tuned and ready, now what? Most professionals use open tunings for slide guitar and can be heard as that “twangy” sound during country songs, or for the Beatle fan, during “For You Blue.” The way this is achieved is by using a guitar slider, a small tube open at either end made of usually glass or metal, which you put on a finger and then yep, you got it, slide that sucker on the fretboard! If you’re looking for a quick substitution for a slider, a glass cup works fine albeit it will feel a little uncomfortable, but if you’re looking to take your cup to the big stage, invest in a slider. They are less than ten dollars usually (unless you splurge for the gold model) and look a lot more rock n roll than a glass cup.
Alright! Now What?
It should be noted that a lot of the time, guitars tuned to open tunings are usually used as accompanying instruments that add to the main melody rather than carry it, but don’t tell that to Keith Richards, who took that same tuning, removed the low D (several people remove this as it tends to overpower the entire sound) and used it to craft some of the Rolling Stones’ most popular songs, such as “Brown Sugar” or “Honky Tonk Women.” Instead of sliding, Richards simply manipulated chord structures and took advantage of the “open” nature of the tuning, all while adding his signature syncopated riffs.
"Lapstyle" slide guitar
Now you are ready to roll, or rather, slide! And remember to come back next Thursday as we’ll be giving you another little gem for our Alternate Tuning of the Week!