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Published on May 31st, 2014 | by Art News

Three Alternate Ways to Tune Your Guitar

Acoustic guitar pedals

While guitar tuners are one of the most necessary accessories for guitars–even more so than guitar multi effects pedals–most think that they’re only good for putting their strings in the proper tuning. However, the beginning musician may be surprised to learn that they can use their guitar tuners to also create unique sounds.

How? By deviating from the standard EADGBE tuning. Here are three cool ways that professional musicians put their guitar tuners to work.

Drop-D Tuning (DADGBE)

Drop-D tuning is perhaps the easiest and simplest of all alternate tunings. Simply tune the low E a full step down to a D and there you are. It’s great for heavier type stuff thanks to the touch of weight it adds. Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” to Avenged Sevenfold’s “Unholy Confessions” are two great drop-D songs worth checking out.

Drop-C Tuning (CGCFAD)

Drop-C tuning is drop-d tuning’s bigger, meaner, older brother. Instead of tuning the E string a full step down to D, you need to go all the way down to C. Then, use guitar tuners to drop each of the other strings a full step down, too. It’s very common in metal and its sub genres, since it’s such a low, heavy tuning. If you’re interested in trying it out, make sure you use thick strings that can handle it. Some bands that frequently (or exclusively) use drop-C are System of a Down, Thrice, Disturbed, Slipknot, and Skillet.


Some musicians like to get really weird with their guitar tuners, and wind up with such tunings as open-G, which allows them to strum a G-major chord with all six strings without fretting. Open-G also allows the guitarist to use play 11 other major chords easily just by barring the frets. Though it’s used commonly in blues and folk, such rock legends as Keith Richards have used open-g to create epic riffs, like Richards’s own “Honky Ton Women” and “Brown Sugar.”

These are just a few of the alternate tunings you can use, and there are several others out there. Playing around with the tuning of your guitar is a great way to hone your chops and get your creative juices flowing.

And you though that guitar tuners were only good for one thing. If you have any questions about using those wonderful pieces of sound equipment in fun and unique ways, feel free to ask in the comments.

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