Ultimate Guide to Open D Tuning 

We are back with another blog on guitar tuning. Today, we will tell you how to open D tuning! It is a popular alternative method that creates a rich, resonant sound on the guitar. This guide will explore its benefits and applications in different styles and techniques. 

From tuning your guitar to learning unique chord shapes, scales, and arpeggios, we’ll provide you with the knowledge and skills to make the most of open D tuning. We’ll also cover famous songs to inspire you. Get ready to unlock the full potential of your guitar with open D tuning!

open D tuning

What is Open D Tuning?

Open D tuning offers a unique and vibrant sound on the guitar. When tuned to open D, strumming the open strings produces a D chord with a rich and resonant tone. Musicians explore alternate tunings like open D for two reasons. 

Firstly, it allows for songwriting experimentation, as renowned guitarists such as Joni Mitchell and Keith Richards have used alternate tunings extensively.

Secondly, open D tuning enables players to form chords by holding down a few strings, making it popular among slide guitarists. While sliding along the strings, you can effortlessly produce complete chords. It offers guitarists a captivating sound palette and the opportunity to explore new musical possibilities with its unique qualities.

Benefits of Open-tuning

Open tunings revolutionize a guitarist’s relationship with the fretboard, offering a fresh perspective and unique possibilities.

Simplifies Chord Playing

Open tunings make certain chords more accessible. Open voicings and clusters challenging in standard tuning become easier when the guitar has an open chord.

Enhances Slide Guitar

Slide guitarists widely adopt open tunings, allowing them to slide their bottleneck directly perpendicular to the guitar neck, facilitating smooth and expressive slide movements.

Enables Drones

Open tunings facilitate the technique of drones, where one or more strings are left to ring while other strings are fretted. It adds layers of sustained and harmonic richness to the sound.

Unveils New Chord Shapes

Tune your guitar to an open chord and open up a world of exploration with fresh chord shapes. While it may initially feel unfamiliar compared to standard tuning, this unconventional approach has inspired countless guitarists to create innovative riffs and chord shapes.

How to Open D Tuning 

To tune your guitar to Open D tuning, follow these steps – 

Step 1 – Start With Standard Tuning 

Ensure your guitar is in standard tuning, which is E A D G B E, from low to high strings. Use a clip-on tuner or refer to a standard tuning lesson to achieve this if needed.

Step 2 – Tune the Low E String to a Low D

To reach open D tuning, lower the low E string to match the pitch of a low D. You can refer to drop D tuning lessons for different methods to tune to a low D.

Step 3 – Keep the A and D Strings Unchanged

The A and D strings remain the same in regular and open D tunings, so leave them as they are.

Step 4 – Lower the G String to F#

In open D tuning, tune the G string down by one half-step to match the pitch of an F#. You can use a tuner or compare it with the sound of an F# on another instrument.

Step 5 – Lower the B String to A

Tune the B string down to match the pitch of an A. The easiest way is to compare it with the open A string, the second thickest string.

Step 6 – Lower the High E String to D

Tune the high E string down to match the pitch of a D. Similar to the previous step; you can use the low D string or the open D string as a reference.

You’ll know your guitar is in open D tuning when strumming all six strings produces a full and resonant D chord. If anything sounds off, double-check and individually adjust each string accordingly. Following these steps will help you achieve open D tuning and prepare your guitar for learning chords, licks, and techniques specific to this tuning.

open D tuning

Popular Songs in Open D Tuning 

Here are some songs which you can play in open D tuning. 

Even Flow by Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow,” released in 1991, leaps into a more rock-oriented genre. The song predominantly utilizes power chords and opens with iconic riffs, instantly captivating listeners.

What sets “Even Flow” apart is that open D tuning plays it, a lesser-known tuning for most people. This tuning adds a unique flavor to the song and combines one- and two-finger-picking techniques. Pearl Jam’s immense global recognition and legendary sound have solidified its status in the music industry.

Street Fighting Man by Rolling Stones

Surprisingly, even the Rolling Stones have embraced open D tuning. Their song “Street Fighting Man,” released in 1968, showcases Keith Richards’ trademark guitar riffs, all played in this tune.

Often associated with the protests of May 1968 in Paris, France, “Street Fighting Man” is characterized by its simplicity and moderate tempo, making it a timeless classic. This song is a beloved example of the creative possibilities that this tune offers and continues to resonate with fans across generations.

Open Your Eyes by Alter Bridge 

Alter Bridge’s “Open Your Eyes,” released in 2004 as the first single from their debut album One Day Remains, departs from the mellower scene. The song gained significant attention, propelling the band’s career forward. 

While showcasing expertly crafted distortion and rock-heavy guitar sounds, there is an intriguing sparkle in the song that captivates listeners, perhaps owing to the utilization of this tune.

The Tallest Man on Earth by Kristian Matsson 

On the other hand, Kristian Matsson, widely known as The Tallest Man On Earth, is often recognized for his guitar and vocal prowess. His song “The Gardener,” featured on the 2008 soundtrack of the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, delivers a cinematic experience. 

It creates a beautiful composition with the simplicity of an open D tuning and Matsson’s skilled and catchy vocals. While it may not be everyone’s preferred style, it serves as a compelling example of the possibilities offered by alternate tunings.


In conclusion, open D tuning offers a captivating and unique sound that expands your musical horizons. With simplified chord playing, enhanced slide guitar techniques, the ability to create drones, and new chord shapes, it provides endless possibilities. 

Follow the step-by-step guide to tune your guitar and learn popular songs in this tuning. Open D tuning offers a distinct sound, whether you’re into rock vibes, timeless classics, or cinematic beauty. So, grab your guitar, experiment, and let the rich tones inspire your creativity. It is your gateway to musical exploration and inspiration.

Hi, My name Is Michael Klemm the man behind Hearnotes.com. I have started my blogging journey in 2017. I publish interested technolgy guides and reviews. So, keep visiting and support my blog.

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