Open D Tuning
- Created on 17 October 2011
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Open tunings are a great way to add some new sounds to your playing.
The tunings are known as “open tunings” because when the open strings are played together they form a chord.
Open-D tuning is a popular tuning used by many artists and it is sometimes called “Vestapol tuning”.
Tuning to Open-D
The open string notes in an open-D tuning are from the 6th string down D A D F# A D.
To get into this tuning you must lower four strings. If you have one of those guitar tuners that clip on to the tuning head this is very easy to do but if you don't then you can do it like this.
- Drop the 6th string (low E) down one whole step to a D (it should sound the same as the 4th string)
- Drop the 1st string (high E) down one whole step to a D (it should be in tune with the 6th string)
- Drop the 2nd string (B) until it sounds an octave above the 5th string, which is an A
- Drop the 3rd string (G) one half step to an F# (it should be in tune with the 4th string-4th fret)
Strumming the guitar with all open strings will produce a deep, rich D-Major chord...which is where the tuning gets its name.
Because the open strings form a D-Major chord, you can play any other major chord simply by barring across all six strings at the appropriate fret. Try playing a barre at the fifth fret (G-Major) and seventh fret (A-Major).
[Bars 1-3 in video tab]
One of the most appealing aspects of open tunings is the deep ringing sound created by playing the open strings, so while its easy to do it reduces the effect if you just play barre chords. So here are some first-position chords that you can experiment with.
The G/B chord can be played with a D bass by including the 6th string. An A7 chord is made by leaving your index finger in place and moving the middle and ring fingers one string down.
[Bars 5-10 in video tab]
Try sliding some of the first-position chords up the neck to get some interesting sounds and as you become familiar with the chord shapes experiment by adding open strings for different colors.
Bars 11-15 show an example of an alternating bass pattern played with the open D, and the barres across the 5th and 7th fret.
A simple song
Bars 17-20 combine the open base strings with a simple well know melody played on the first two strings.
As stated earlier Open-D tuning was sometimes refered to as Vestapol tuning as it was popularised in a song Vestapol, you can try this song from the Elizabeth Cotton page