Exploring DADGAD Tuning On Guitar
Under: Guitar Lessons
There are two only two guitar tunings that I mostly use. These are Standard and DADGAD. There’s something special about how the DADGAD tuning sounds on the guitar. I’ve loved the sound of this guitar tuning for years.
However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been teaching a Nick Drake song. This song is written in Standard tuning with one alteration.
The G string has been lowered to an E note – EADEBE. Also, a lovely tuning that doesn’t (I believe) has a name!
Both DADGAD and EADEBE alternative guitar tunings allow us to use open strings to fill out the chords.
They also allow us to look at the 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).
It isn’t easy to solo in DADGAD tuning and would require some thinking to make soloing happen. That said, it is a great tuning for playing rhythm and songs in D. You might know this guitar tuning as Celtic tuning. People have been using it for hundreds of years!
How To Tune A Guitar To DADGAD?
So how do we tune our guitar to DADGAD tuning? Well, we need to Lower the pitch of a few strings. Never raise the pitch unless you’re moving up a half step/whole step as this is the quickest way to break a string.
So starting in standard tuning or EADGBE.
First, we need to lower the low E string down a whole step from E to D. There’s no change to the 5th string – A. Also, the 4th string stays the same – D. So far we have DAD
There’s also no change to the 3rd string – G. Our B string needs to be lowered a whole step to A. And finally, the top string, like the bottom needs to be lowered down a whole step from E to D.
And that’d folks is how we re-tune the guitar to get to D A D G A D!
How Does The Fretboard Look In This Tuning?
As it can be a little tricky to get your head around a new tuning, it’s worth starting by looking at the whole fretboard. DADGAD looks something like this:
[click for large version]
Hopefully, seeing how DADGAD looks across the fretboard makes exploring this guitar tuning a little easier. It might take you a while to fully explore the tuning, but that’s part of the fun!
If that’s all good, let’s look at some DADGAD chords. These are all basic chords to get you started.
Remember, the best way to learn new chords is to use them in a song straightaway. You’ll never learn it in isolation alone, so give it context by actually using it in a song!
D major 9
You can use any and all of the above chords today. They’ll enable you to start playing songs in the tuning. Don’t worry about fingering, just use what’s close!
Remember to write down (and give them a name) any chords you find, using Blank Chord Boxes. So get exploring!!
If you find any chord you can’t name, please leave a comment, and I’ll help you.
Songs In DADGAD Tuning
Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, is the most famous song in this tuning. A recent and still often heard song in DADGAD is Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls. Frontman John Rzeznik, love this tuning.
All guitars on Bert Jansch’s Jack Orion are in this open tuning! And boy does that song sound great!
The best way to start exploring the DADGAD tuning is to pick any song in the key of D. Simply re-tune into DADGAD tuning and have some fun relearning how to play guitar!
Next time we’ll look at EADEBE tuning in the same way! So, stay tuned!