View Full Version : Open G------ A country tuning?

03-19-2011, 11:50 PM
The following is a continuation of sorts on my previous thread asking about those who play almost exclusively in open tunings.

Open G is my prefered open tuning, and by no small margin. I lean heavily on the acoustic rock/blues side of things, and have never remotely dabbled in the country side of guitar. It's not that I have no appreciation for it, as I have certainly heard some stellar country players, it's just that the genre has somehow escaped my playing.

However, I was just fooling around, and really for the first time, managed to put together some interesting and half respectable country sounding guitar.

So, I am curious to know to what extent open G is used in country music, new or old. I would be grateful to be pointed toward any well known open G country players, so I can do more research via youtube.

I would also like to hear any insight or opinion from country players here who play in open G, or open something.

03-20-2011, 12:03 AM
Nancy Griffith has been known to compose and play in open-G

"Love at the Five and Dime"

03-20-2011, 08:25 AM
A ton of blues songs are in open G & A

Murphy Slaw
03-20-2011, 08:52 AM
"A Country Boy Will Survive".

03-20-2011, 09:24 AM
A lot of Spanish compositions are reputed to be based on Open G. I've even read that it may be the source of that tuning. In "playing" around, I would have to say it fits.

03-20-2011, 09:44 AM
I like to use E A and G open tunings sometimes. Mostly if gonna play alittle bottleneck or slide.

Wade Hampton
03-20-2011, 12:13 PM
There are a couple of different Open G tunings that get used - one has both the E strings dropped to D, and the A string dropped to G. There's another one that is higher pitched, where the open strings of the guitar are tuned to the chord notes you get when you play a first position G chord.

So, low to high that would be: G, B, D, G, B, G.

Admittedly, that's a much less common tuning than the lower Open G tuning. But I have run into it on occasion.

Anyway, most of the hands-on practical experience I have with country music is really more along the lines of bluegrass and country-rock, and among bluegrass players, anyway, the most common use of an open G tuning is on a Dobro or other resonator guitar.

The band Poco used to use a lot of open-tuned guitars, and I'm pretty certain "You'd Better Think Twice" is in the lower Open G tuning. If you look for that song, try to find the live album version of it: the studio version is fairly tame and lame, but they got wild on it when they played it live.

Hope this helps.

Wade Hampton Miller

03-20-2011, 12:33 PM
The open G I use is DGDGBD. And I would include bluegrass or country rock in the genres of my inquiry, but judging by the responses so far, one one has an early impression that open G is not strongly represented in country. I suppose I will just continue to explore and see if I can get more country vibe from open G, just for the heck of it.

Mah ' Crub
03-22-2011, 11:59 AM
I use the open G tuning { gdgdbd} for slide and blues but I also play:
Man of Constant sorrow
Boogie on Regge Woman
Midnight Hour
When a Man Loves a Woman
and more that I can't remember right now...so yeah it's great for slide, oh yeah,
Water song { finger style} by Hot Tuna, Burgers LP...great song.

Mah ' Crub

03-22-2011, 12:11 PM
Open G is the most common banjo tuning, I think. :)

03-22-2011, 01:52 PM
With her big long***** finger nails, Dolly Parton uses open G or something close to it. She then just covers all the strings with one finger to bar the chords.
I doubt that many have even noticed it though.

03-23-2011, 08:43 AM
One player synonymous with open G is Kieth Richards - so many Stones tunes are in open G - Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women, Tumblin Dice, and on and on. Kieth even had guitars made up with only five strings; dedicated to open G and leaving the low E string off all together. Country, Blues, it's all in there. not just for slide, a great way to come at the instrument with a different approach - some say it re-inspires them to get into unlocking all the different ways fingering is changed and moving from major to minor voices... you never run out of things to learn.

03-23-2011, 09:37 AM
Open G is probably the most used resonator guitar tuning. Other than that, compared to standard tuning, open tunings are not used all that much in country music. Just occasionally. And they're very rarely used in bluegrass music (except, once again, for resonator guitar). You'll see dropped D tuning some in bluegrass and country. More so than open tunings.
However, open tunings can make for interesting variations in songs. That's for sure.


03-23-2011, 10:22 AM
This terrific song is in open G. And BTW, Myles Kennedy is my guitar hero. Awesome guitarist. I bought a 614ce because of this video.


03-23-2011, 10:35 AM
This song I posted is done in open G:


03-23-2011, 12:15 PM
Open G is a lot of fun. The open tunings open-up doors to chords, slides, melodies that we might not otherwise see. Be aware that the GBDGBD Open G Tuning is made primarily for squareneck guitars. It puts a tremendous amount of stress on the neck and a regular roundneck might not handle it for long......But, open tunings are a great way to play music and learn more about it.

03-23-2011, 12:17 PM
Martin Carthy - who has to be considered as a mainstay of folk music - makes extensive use of open and altered tunings.

Mah ' Crub
03-23-2011, 12:54 PM
Another fun tuning is DADGAD. Lots and lots of pathways.

03-23-2011, 05:27 PM
I write in Nashville with a number of guys/gals and I will say over the last few years writing in "Alternative" tunings are up CONSIDERABLY! The "Hot" writers are writing in tunings other than standard. I don't want to name names because I dont want to act like I know these guys well, cause I don't...but I write with guys that write with them and they share info with me. I went to a writers night where all writers pass the same guitar around and it was funny how many were re-tuning in other tunings. SO, I would say IF you already play in Open G then you will be right in on the trend going on now. Just my .02...


03-23-2011, 06:09 PM
I don't play much with full open tunings, but I occasionally use open D and G (DGDGBD). Another interesting variant is CGDGBD. I have to admit the term "country guitar", while I don't doubt it clearly means something to a lot of players, doesn't mean much to me. For example, I learned a neat, crooked Swedish waltz tune in open G from a Bruce Molsky recording. No one would probably ever call this piece country, or blues, though you might call Bruce a country picker. I just play it because I like the way it sounds.

03-23-2011, 06:11 PM
Considering that dobro players took a lot (in a good way, not slamming them at all) from Hawaiian lap steel players, who can play in every key from open G, it's certainly possible to get country "sounds" out of open G. Very easily actually, since that's pretty much where they started "inventing" dobro playing from!

Will Kirk
03-23-2011, 06:30 PM
Open G can be used for many different things. I like to lower the B string down to A and get a Gsus tuning, you can bend the string behind the nut and get a nice little "train whistle" effect with the Gsus tuning as well.

It's not nessecarily a "country only" tuning, Leo Kottke uses it to great extent, his piece "Gewerbegebiet" uses open G, except he's playing in a minor key, using a major key tuning, very cool!

The best players are the ones that can change keys in an open tuning, lots of times people just "drone". I'm guilty of it because it's easy to do. But try experimenting with some minor stuff in a major open tuning, you'd be surprised what you can find.