Alternate tunings are used to create more interesting melodies and chord voicings that would not normally be possible in standard tuning. While there are only a few really common guitar tunings, there are actually hundreds that are used in more specialized genres. There is no shortage of ways you can tune your guitar strings for experimentation. In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the most popular tunings plus some tips on which ones are best for certain styles of music. How many guitar tunings are there? Here’s just a couple to get you started!
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Standard Guitar Tuning (EADGBE).
Standard tuning is probably the most widely used tuning on guitar. This standard tuning (EADGBE) is used by most players and works well for most styles of music. In fact, electric, acoustic and classical guitars all use Standard tuning. The low E string is in tune with an E below middle C and the other strings move up in 4ths except for the G and B strings. This is a great starting point for any guitarist to find their footing, so if you’re just getting started, this tuning may be right for you. You could play standard tuning for the rest of your guitar playing life and never have any problems.
Drop G – DGDGBE
To get to drop G tuning, you drop the 5th string down to a half step to low G. This tuning is great for playing in the key of G, whether major or minor. It is used a lot in heavy metal, but it is also just a unique sound to try composing in.
Drop D Tuning (DADGBE).
Drop D tuning is a popular guitar tuning used in many different styles of music. It involves a single string being tuned down to a D instead of an E, which is a whole step down. It is common in rock and metal music, but is also used in modern classical guitar music. Many enjoy the sound of the open D chord made possible by this tuning. A low, rumble-like quality and a thicker sound is characteristic of this tuning.
As made popular by 90’s midwest emo band: American Football, this tuning has been on the rise in the midwest, post hardcore, and emo genres. This tuning creates a unique soundscape of complex intervallic patterns that make it especially suited for math rock and experimental music genres. If you are lookin’ for dreamy and twinkly clean tones, or edgy and angsty punk style chords, look no further than FACGCE.
To learn more, consult the FACGCE master, Trevor Wong:
More Alternate Guitar Tunings
Drop C Tuning
Drop C guitar tuning is an alternative tuning where the lowest string is tuned down two whole steps to C. The note names for Drop C tuning, starting from the lowest string, are C, G, C, F, A, and D. This tuning is commonly used in heavy music genres like metal and hard rock, as it provides a deep and aggressive sound. The lower C tuning allows for heavier riffs, powerful palm-muted chords, and extended range on the lower strings. It has become popular among guitarists seeking a heavier and more intense tone for their music.
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D Standard Tuning
D Standard tuning is a popular alternative guitar tuning in which all strings are tuned down one whole step from standard E tuning. The resulting notes from low to high are D, G, C, F, A, and D. This tuning is favored by many guitarists for its heavier and darker sound, making it ideal for genres like metal and hard rock. Learn more about D standard tuning here.
It would be impossible to count how many guitar tunings there are, but don’t let that intimidate you. Most guitarists stay primarily in standard tuning. However, for you experimental musical geniuses out there, we’ve got you covered. For starters, Drop D is great because many popular songs are used in drop D. Drop G will really open up a new array of sounds for you to explore, and for you emo kids, FACGCE is the way to go. With alternate tunings, you open up an entirely new way of playing the guitar. They can be used to produce more intriguing chord voicings and melodies than are often feasible in standard tuning.
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