It’s exciting to experiment with different guitar tunings to produce new sounds from your guitar. By changing the tuning of just one string (such as in Drop D tuning), you’ll be able to try new chord shapes and create new sounds.
All of my guitars are tuned to standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E). Occasionally I’ll experiment with Drop D and Drop C tunings when I’m trying to create a heavy rock or metal sound. The tuning you’ll use will depend on the style of music and the type of sound you’re trying to create. Some tunings also make it easier to play certain chords, as I’ll explain with Open G tuning.
Read on to learn about the different tunings guitarists use. Then experiment and try some of these tunings on your guitars!
The 5 guitar tunings I’ll cover are:
- Standard tuning
- Eb tuning
- Drop D tuning
- Drop C tuning
- Open G tuning
#1 Standard tuning
Standard tuning for electric and acoustic guitars is E-A-D-G-B-E.
Most often when you hear a guitar it is using standard tuning. Going left to right (low to high) the notes are a major fourth apart, with the exception of the G to B which is a major 3rd.
Example song with guitar in Standard tuning:
#2 Eb tuning
Eb (E flat) tuning for electric and acoustic guitars is Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb.
Eb tuning is commonly referred to as tuning down a “half-step”. It’s all of the notes from standard tuning taken down a half-step. You’ll notice that in this tuning the strings feel looser and “slinkier”. This allows for string bends and vibrato to be much easier due to the strings being more loose. The guitar will also have a “heavier” sound that is often preferred by musicians playing heavy rock and metal.
Example song with guitar in Eb tuning:
#3 Drop D tuning
Drop D tuning for electric and acoustic guitars is D-A-D-G-B-E.
In Drop D tuning the sixth E string is taken down one whole-step to D. This gives the guitar a heavier and darker sound. The origin of this tuning is difficult to pinpoint, but it was likely first used by classical and blues guitarists. In the 70s heavier rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath used Drop D in some of their songs. In the 80s and 90s the tuning became much more popular with bands like Ratt, Van Halen, Queen, Tool, Korn, Creed, Alice In Chains, King’s X and Linkin Park using the tuning in some of their songs.
Example song with guitar in Drop D tuning:
#4 Drop C tuning
Drop C tuning for electric and acoustic guitars is C-G-C-F-A-D.
In Drop C tuning the sixth E string is taken down two whole steps to C. The remaining strings are all dropped one whole step. This tuning gives the guitar a very heavy and dark tone. It’s most often used by heavy rock and metal bands.
Example song with guitar in Drop C tuning:
#5 Open G tuning
Open G tuning for electric and acoustic guitars is D-G-D-G-B-D.
In Open G tuning the guitar is tuned to a G-major chord (G, B, D). From standard tuning, the sixth, fifth, and first strings are dropped a whole step to achieve Open G tuning. In some variations the sixth string is removed from the guitar so the bass note (on the 5th string) becomes a G note. The 5 string Open G tuning is the standard tuning on a 5-string banjo. This tuning gives a rock’n’roll type of sound. Guitarist Keith Richards is a big proponent of this tuning and uses it often in Rolling Stones songs.
Example song with guitar in Open G tuning: