Thursday, December 21, 2023

Variety in Guitar Tunings: A Catalog of 25 Tunings and the Renowned Musicians Who Employ Them

The guitar, an instrument celebrated for its versatility and expressiveness, owes much of its adaptability to the variety of tuning methods available to players. From the standard tuning to more experimental approaches, each tuning brings its own flavor and creative potential. In this article, we delve into 25 guitar tunings, ordered by their popularity and usage, and highlight notable musicians who have embraced these unique tunings to create their signature sounds.

1. Standard Tuning (EADGBE)

The cornerstone of guitar tunings, Standard tuning is the most widely used configuration. It's the foundation of countless songs across various genres, from rock and blues to folk and classical music. Its balanced interval structure makes it ideal for learning chords and scales.

2. Drop D Tuning (DADGBE)

A simple variation of the standard tuning, Drop D lowers the sixth string by a whole step. This tuning facilitates power chords and is favored in rock and metal genres. Iconic bands like Led Zeppelin and Nirvana have employed this tuning in their music.

3. Half-Step Down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb eb)

By tuning each string down by a half step, this tuning offers a slightly lower pitch, popular among rock and blues guitarists. Legends like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan often used this tuning to match their vocal ranges or to create a distinct sonic texture.

4. Whole Step Down (DGCFAD)

This tuning, which drops each string by a whole step, is prevalent in hard rock and heavy metal. It provides a heavier sound and is used by bands such as Guns N' Roses and Metallica.

5. Open G Tuning (DGDGBD)

Open G is a staple in blues and country music. It allows guitarists to play major chords with a single finger and is integral to the styles of musicians like Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.

6. Open D Tuning (DADF#AD)

Popular in folk and blues, Open D tuning facilitates the playing of chord shapes and slide guitar. Artists like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan have harnessed its unique sound in their music.


This modal tuning, favored in Celtic and folk music, is versatile for both fingerpicking and strumming. Pierre Bensusan and Led Zeppelin, in their song "Kashmir", are notable users.

8. Open C Tuning (CGCGCE)

Favored by folk and alternative rock guitarists, Open C offers a rich, resonant sound. Ben Howard and John Butler are among its prominent users.

9. Open E Tuning (EBEG#BE)

A favorite in the blues genre, Open E tuning is known for its bright, ringing tones. It's been used by slide guitar masters like Duane Allman and Derek Trucks.

10. Drop C Tuning (CGCFAD)

Popular in the metal and hard rock scenes, Drop C tuning allows for deep, aggressive riffs and is employed by bands like System of a Down and Slipknot.

11. Drop B Tuning (BF#BEG#C#)

This heavy tuning is a staple in metalcore and similar genres, offering a deep, growling tone. Bands like Periphery and Killswitch Engage have made extensive use of it.

12. Open A Tuning (EAEAC#E)

Utilized primarily in blues, Open A provides a unique sound ideal for slide playing. Ry Cooder, a master of slide guitar, has used this tuning extensively.

13. C Standard Tuning (CFA#D#GC)

A favorite among stoner rock and metal bands, C Standard tuning offers a thick, heavy sound. Queens of the Stone Age is one of the notable bands that use this tuning.

14. Double Drop D Tuning (DADGBD)

This tuning, where both the first and sixth strings are dropped to D, is used in folk and rock. Neil Young, known for his distinctive guitar work, is a prominent user.

15. All Fourths Tuning (EADGCF)

Favored by jazz and experimental guitarists like Stanley Jordan, this tuning facilitates complex chord shapes and solos.

16. New Standard Tuning (CGDAEG)

Invented by Robert Fripp of King Crimson, this tuning spans a wider range and offers new chordal possibilities.

17. Nashville Tuning (EADGBE)

A high-strung tuning often used to simulate a 12-string guitar sound, Nashville tuning is popular in country music.

18. Drop A Tuning (AEADF#B)

Heavy and deep, Drop A is used in metal genres. Bands like Architects have used it for its powerful, rumbling quality.

19. Modal D Tuning (DADGAD)

Also known as Celtic tuning, Modal D is used in folk music and by artists like Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin's "Black Mountain Side".

20. Major Third Tuning (EAbCF#A#D#)

This tuning, though rare, is used by some jazz guitarists for its unique chord voicings.

21. Open B Tuning (BF#BF#BD#)

Utilized in blues and slide guitar, Open B offers a distinct sound that's both vibrant and resonant.

22. Seven-String Standard (BEADGBE)

Used across jazz, metal, and rock, the seven-string guitar adds a lower B string. John Petrucci of Dream Theater is a known proponent.

23. Eight-String Standard (F#BEADGBE)

Favored in progressive metal, this tuning adds both a lower F# and a higher E string. Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders is a notable user.

24. Nine-String Standard (C#F#BEADGBE)

A tuning for extreme metal genres, the nine-string guitar extends the range further with a lower C# string.

25. Overtone Tuning

An experimental tuning used by bands like Sonic Youth, it's known for its unique, dissonant sound.

Each of these tunings opens up a new sonic landscape for the guitarist, allowing for the exploration of new harmonies, textures, and expressive possibilities. Whether it’s the deep growl of Drop B or the resonant open chords of DADGAD, these tunings have expanded the horizons of guitar music and contributed to the instrument's enduring popularity.

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