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Open G Guitar Tuning

Alternate Tunings, Guitar Maintenance, & Jams

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This guitar lesson is going to be about open G tuning. When I was putting this lesson together I was watching a bunch of lessons on open G tuning and they were all about the Rolling Stones. To change this up and maybe give you something new, I busted out my acoustic guitar and came up with a small lick using open G tuning. This lick is a great example of how you can take just a few simple shapes and come up with something cool sounding using an alternate tuning. First we will go over how to tune your guitar to open G and then we will learn the lick.

Standard tuning on the guitar is EADGBE. Open G tuning on the guitar is DGDGBD. Tune your low E, A, and high E strings down one whole step to D, G, and another D. No need to worry about your D, G, and B strings, they are already where they need to be. Don’t forget to tune up to the note. For instance, if you are tuning your low E string down to a D, go below the D and then come back up to it. I find that this helps the guitar to stay in tune better. Once you tune your guitar to open G, give all six strings a strum so that you can get an idea of the sound of this tuning.

Time to learn the lick. We will start by learning the finger picking pattern for the right hand. Play the 5th string with your thumb and then play the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings with your 1st 2nd and 3rd fingers on your picking hand. Once you play these notes switch your thumb to the 4th string and then play the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings with you 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers again. This is the basic finger picking pattern.

There are only two basic shapes throughout this entire lick. To make the first shape, place your 2nd finger on the 9th fret of the 4th string and your 1st finger on the 8th fret of the 2nd string. Now play the finger picking pattern. Slide that shape down 2 frets and play the pattern again. Here is where the second shape comes in. Slide your middle finger down two frets to the 5th fret and add your 3rd finger on the 5th fret of the 2nd string. Play the finger picking pattern. Move this shape down one fret and play the pattern again. To finish off the lick put your 1st finger on the 5th fret of 6th string and finger pick the 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings open with your thumb, 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers. After you play the 1st string with you 3rd finger, drag that same 3rd finger up through the other five strings.

Alternate tunings are a great tool to force yourself to come up with new shapes and ideas. Try to experiment with these shapes and see if you can come up with your own licks.