Open Tunings: DADGAD

DADGAD guitar tuning

I mainly use two guitar tunings: Standard and D A D G A D.


However over the last few weeks I’ve been teaching a Nick Drake song. Written in Standard tuning with one alteration. The G string has been lowered to an E note – E A D E B E. Lovely tuning!


Both D A D G A D and E A D E B E alternative guitar tunings allow us to use open strings to fill out the chords. It also allows us to looked at guitar linearly (i.e. Moving up and down the fretboard in a line) rather than the usual box type (i.e. Moving between chords that are close together, in the same position).


While it isn’t easy to solo in D A D G A D, and would require some thinking to make soloing happening, it is a great tuning for playing rhythm and songs in D. This opening tuning is often called Celtic tuning.



How to tune to DADGAD


To get to D A D G A D, we need to Lower the pitch of a few strings. Never raise the pitch unless you’re moving up a half step/whole step – or it’s likely that you’ll break a string.


Right then, so we have a guitar in standard tuning or E A D G B E. We need to move the lowest string down a whole step from E to D. The next string up (5th string), stays the same pitch – A. As does the 4th string- which is still D. That’s D A D! The third or G string stays the same as well.


The string gets lowered down a whole step from B to A. And the top string – like the bottom needs to be lowered down a whole step from E to D.


And that folks is how we retune the guitar to get to D A D G A D!



DADGAD chords

Let’s look at some DADGAD chords. These are all basic chords to get you started:



DDD major 9D/F#
 D D (2) Dmaj9 D F#
 G G add 11 G maj7 G maj9
 G maj9 (2) G B
 A A add11 A7add11 A11
 A13 A C# Bm F#m



The chords above will help you to get started. Don’t worry about fingering, just used what’s close! Remember to write down (and Name) any chords you find, using my Blank Chord Boxes.



Complete Fretboard

DADGAD [complete guitar fretboard neck]

[click for super large version]


Songs in this alternative tuning

Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, to me is the most famous song in this tuning. A recent and still often heard song in DADGAD is Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls (the tuning is a favourite of front man John Rzeznik). All guitars on Bert Jansch’s Jack Orion are in this open tuning!


You can pick any song in D to get started. Simply re-tune in to D A D G A D and have some fun relearning how to play guitar!




Have fun. In Part 2 we’ll look at some chords around the tuning E A D E B E.

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