Are you looking for a big list of guitar tunings? If so, as the title of the article suggests, you’re definitely in the right place. I will be introducing you to a total of fifteen guitar tunings and providing a brief explanation of each one and I will also provide you with an example song for each of the guitar tunings too.
Alternate guitar tunings are something that all guitarists think about at some point during their guitar journey for one reason or another. This guitar lesson will provide everything you need to explore the world of alternate guitar tunings. Some of you may discover an alternate tuning or two that work really well for you. Some of you may study the material here and decide that ultimately, you prefer to stick with standard tuning. Some guitarists may find that they prefer different guitar tunings for different situations and some may even find that experimenting with different tunings is something that they really enjoy and some may find that alternate guitar tunings make their music more interesting.
You should learn about all of the alternate guitar tunings in this list even if you’re a guitarist that thinks they’ll never use them. Knowledge is power. You may think that you’ll never stray away from standard tuning but you never know when the guitar tunings here may come in useful and who knows, learning about these tunings may help you make a great piece of music one day!
Let’s get to work.
The Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat List of Guitar Tunings
We are now going to tackle each of the sixteen guitar tunings one at a time and in no particular order, but we are going to start in the most obvious place. No list of guitar tunings can be complete without standard tuning.
Oh, you may need a guitar tuner. Luckily, Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat has you covered. Visit the online guitar tuner page to access the completely free reference tone based tuner. All the alternate guitar tunings in this list are there. Unless I’m still building it, which is entirely possible as I’m writing this article and creating the tuners simultaneously so if it’s not ready yet, just wait longer.
List of Guitar Tunings Standard Tuning – E A D G B E
In theory, you should all already be familiar with standard tuning. It would be somewhat unusual for a guitarist to learn an alternate guitar tuning before standard tuning. I probably don’t even need to include this but I guess a list of guitar tunings wouldn’t be complete without it. One thing that I could use this space for is to point out that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using standard tuning only. If you ultimately decide that the tuning options below are not for you, that’s fine. At least you’re exploring possibilities.
No example song is needed for standard tuning. There are many thousands.
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – Drop D – D A D G B E
Perhaps the most common of the alternate guitar tunings is drop D tuning. five of the six strings remain the same with drop D, but that low E string is dropped down by a full time from E to D, hence the name of the tuning. This tuning is commonly used in heavy metal, but it also appears in genres such as blues, folk, country, rock and classical. A commonly exploited advantage to drop D tuning is the ease in which one can perform power chords that have their root on the sixth string. In drop D, power chords can be played with just one finger instead of two or three.
Example of a song that uses drop D tuning – Rage Against The Machine, Killing in the Name
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – Half Step Down (E flat) – Eb Ab Db GB Bb Eb
Next up we have a tuning referred to as half step down or, E flat tuning. This is a very simple alternate guitar tuning but you will need to adjust all six of your strings. Simply tune each of your guitar strings down by a semitone (or half step) and you’re in half step down tuning. With this tuning, you play in exactly the same way as you would in standard but there’s more flexibility in the strings allowing for easier bends and it also naturally provides a heavier sound. The tuning also allows you to use heavier strings without reducing playability.
Example of a song that uses half step down tuning – Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Child
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – DADGAD – D A D G A D
DADGAD (pronounced dad gad) is a guitar tuning with amazing drone potential that’s most associated with Celtic music though it has found its way into other genres of music such as rock, folk and metal, as well as several others. The A, D and G strings are all untouched but both E strings are tuned down by a full tone, as is the B string. Those used to playing in standard can simply focus on the strings that haven’t changed while creating nice drone sounds both above and below these strings. This works great in D major/minor and a capo can by implemented to adjust your key too.
Example of a song that uses the DADGAD guitar tuning – Led Zeppelin, Kashmir
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – Open D – D A D F# A D
Open D tuning retains two of the notes from standard tuning whilst adjusting the other four. The A and D strings are the ones that are untouched. We tune both E strings down by a full tone along with the B string and we tune the G string down by a semitone or half step. The open D tuning allows guitarists to play a D chord without fretting any notes. It’s ideal for finger style guitar and it’s popular with slide guitarists as it allows them to play full chords with the slide. Full chords can also be played with a simple six string Barre across a fret.
Example of a song that uses the open D guitar tuning – Beck, Loser
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – Drop C# – C# G# C# F# A# D#
Drop C# is achieved by taking the drop D tuning that we looked at earlier in the list and then tuning every string down by a half step. This tuning can also be referred to as drop D flat by simply swapping out the notes for their enharmonic equivalents. The drop C# tuning is popular in metal. It provides a rather deep, brutal and texture filled sound. It’s heavy, very heavy, and just like with the drop D tuning from earlier, it makes power chords easier too.
Example of a song that uses the drop C# alternate guitar tuning – Nirvana, Heart Shaped Box
List of Guitar Tunings – Alternate Guitar Tunings – Drop C – C G C F A D
With drop C tuning, the strings are tuned to CGCFAD. Or one could think of it as the same as drop D but every string, including the already lowered 6th string is dropped down by a full tone. You could also compare this tuning to standard tuning by saying everything is tuned down a whole step apart from the sixth string which is tuned down by two full tones instead of one. Drop C tuning is another alternate guitar tuning that’s popular in the world of rock and metal thanks to the heavy tone that it creates.
Example of a song that uses drop C tuning – Nickelback, Feed the Machine
Drop B – B F# B E G# C#
There’s a couple of ways describe how Drop B tuning is created. You could say that it’s a tuning where the sixth string is dropped by two and a half steps and all the others are dropped by one and a half steps. You could say that it’s the same as drop D only everything is lowered by a tone and a half or, you could describe it as the same as drop C but every string is lowered by a semitone. This tuning produces a dark and heavy sound. You can probably guess where this guitar tuning feels most at home genre wise. Perhaps an example will provide a further clue.
Example of a song that uses drop B tuning – Slipknot, Before I Forget
Open Dm – D A D F A D
The easiest way to think of the open Dm (D mionr) tuning is that it’s the same as the DADGAD alternate tuning only the G string is lowered by a full tone. This tuning appears in genres such as blues, folk and rock and it produces a deep and moody sense of sadness or even grief. It also carries some of the same benefits that you get with it’s major brother, Open D.
Example of a song that uses open D minor tuning – Skip James, Devil Got My Woman
Full Step Down – D G C F A D
The full step down alternate tuning is much like half step down tuning. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Achieving this tuning is simple. All you need to do is tune all six strings down by a full tone. Obvious advantages of this guitar tuning are that the sound produced will be lower and the strings will be looser. This results in easier playability, and it opens up deeper tones for guitarists who are looking for that without having to change the interval relationships between strings that we are used to with standard tuning.
Example of a song that uses full tone down tuning – Nirvana, Come As You Are
Open C – C G C G C E
To achieve the open C tuning, you must tune your strings to CGCGCE from thickest to thinnest. There’re three different notes there. C, G and E. These are the notes of the C major triad. C is the root, E is the major third and G is the perfect fifth. This means that when the guitar is strummed without fretting any strings, a C major chord is produced. This tuning produces a nice deep and rich sound.
Example of a song in open C tuning – Led Zeppelin, Friends
Open E – E B E G# B E
With the open E guitar tuning, three of the strings are left as they are and the other three are altered. Both E strings remain untouched, as does the B string. Both the A and D strings are tuned up by a tone, and the G string is tuned up by a semitone. This results in the intervals between strings being the same as open D, and an E major chord being produced when the six strings are strummed without fretting any notes. This tuning has many of the same benefits and applications as the open D tuning.
Example of a song that uses open E tuning – The Black Crowes, She Talks To Angels
Open G – D G D G B D
Similar to other open guitar tunings such as open D, the open string notes of the open G tuning produce a chord when strummed. In this case, it’s the G major chord as the root is G, the major third is B, and the perfect fifth is D. This tuning carries the same advantages as the open D tuning too but the sound produced isn’t exactly the same. This tuning has a bluesy feel to it so if you’re a blues guitarist or a blues/rock guitarist, the open G tuning may be one that you should consider trying.
Example of a song that uses open G tuning – The Rolling Stones, Start Me Up
Open A – E A E A C# E
Like other open guitar tunings, the open A tuning produces a chord when all six strings are strummed open. Naturally, in this case, the chord is A major. To achieve this, we alter three of the six strings. Both E strings remain the same, as does the A string. We tune up on the second, third and fourth strings to get E A E A C# E. When using the open A tuning, you may find that the sound produced when playing chords has more ring and reverberation than typical Barre chords. This tuning also retains advantages gained by other open tunings such as open D and it’s another great option for all you blues players out there.
Example of a song that uses the open A guitar tuning – Led Zeppelin, In My Time of Dying
Double drop D – D A D G B D
The double drop D tuning can be thought of in a couple of ways. It’s either the same as drop D tuning but with the high E string tuned down a tone too or, it’s standard tuning with both the E strings tuned down a tone. Either way, it’s not particularly difficult to understand. Double drop D gives you an expressive and expansive sound while also retaining familiarity thanks to the untouched middle strings. You get the benefits of drop D plus extra creative possibilities with the high D such as drones.
Example of a song that uses double drop D tuning – Neil Young, Cinnamon Girl
That concludes my list of guitar tunings. In addition to the obvious standard tuning, you now have a whole bunch of alternate guitar tunings to try out and experiment with.
I honestly hope you do too. This is one of those things that can change someone’s guitar playing forever so see this as an opportunity.
One thing that I must point out is that this isn’t an exclusive list of guitar tunings. There are more string configurations beyond this. If you dig deeper, you’ll find more totally unique guitar tunings out there and also, you may encounter variations of tunings that I’ve included in this list. I had to draw the line somewhere and this just seemed a good natural place to wrap things up considering the vast majority reading this won’t try them all. Perhaps I’ll create an alternate guitar tunings part two at some point in the future.
You’ve a lot to go at here though. Listen to the song examples and read the brief overviews and see if any of these guitar tunings resonate with you. I’ve personally always enjoyed the half step down and full step down tunings. What will your favorites be?
Looking for something else to do? Check out this closely related article on songs that use the DADGAD tuning. Lots of amazing tracks in there. You could try learning a couple of songs that use one of these tunings too. Both of the below are in E flat tuning which is probably my personal favorite of the lot.
Michael Jackson Beat It TAB and guitar lesson
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.