Exploring DADGAD Tuning
Under: Guitar Lessons
I mainly use two guitar tunings: Standard and DADGAD. There’s something special about the DADGAD tuning that I’ve loved 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!
Both DADGAD and EADEBE alternative guitar tunings allow us to use open strings to fill out the chords. It also allows us to look 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 DADGAD tuning, and would require some thinking to make soloing happening, it is a great tuning for playing rhythm and songs in D. Also, this tuning is often called Celtic tuning.
How to tune 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. 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. Next, there’s no change to the 5th string – A. This the same for the 4th string – 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 retune the guitar to get to D A D G A D!
Let’s start by looking at the whole fretboard. It looks something like this:
[click for super large version]
If that’s all good then, let’s look at some DADGAD chords. These are all basic chords to get you started:
D major 9
The chords above will enable you to start playing songs in the tuning. Don’t worry about fingering, just used what’s close! Remember to write down (and Name) any chords you find, using Blank Chord Boxes. If you find any chord you can’t name, then please leave a comment and I’ll help you. So get exploring!!
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!
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!