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Old 09-03-2023, 02:30 AM
Harmony123 Harmony123 is offline
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Default Drop D vs Open G or Open D Tuning for Popular Songs?

I'm playing in a cover band which does rather dance-oriented tunes with lots of I-IV-V professions, with an occasional minor or 7th chord thrown into the mix. Pretty basic, but fun.

I was thinking of learning an alternate tuning just to mix things up a bit and change the flavor of the rhythm sound. But there are so many alternate tunings, I don't know where to begin. I'm somewhat familiar with Drop D and Open G, and there's always Open D and a capo ...

Assuming I'm at a rehearsal and we're going over a bunch of tunes (Johnny Cash, CCR, Bill Haley, The Drifters, Beatles etc.), what tuning (apart from standard) could be used to play along with most of the songs (with or w/o capo) without having to re-tune or grab a 2nd guitar?
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Old 09-03-2023, 03:07 AM
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For a real sonic change, DADGAD. I have a friend who plays guitar in a duo with a keyboard-player, doing pop songs from the late ‘60s right up to date, and DADGAD is the only tuning he ever uses - one guitar on stage, no retuning.

Here’s a link to the impressive DADGAD chord chart I use…

https://benfarmer.co.uk/wp-content/u.../07/Dadgad.pdf
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Old 09-03-2023, 04:10 AM
Harmony123 Harmony123 is offline
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Thank you - the chart looks really useful.
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Old 09-03-2023, 06:32 AM
beninma beninma is offline
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A second thank you, that’s a really nice document for DADGAD.
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Old 09-03-2023, 06:44 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
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Have you considered changing up the type of voicings you use in standard tuning?

A lot of the material you mention would sound great with some old school rhythm guitar voicing on the 6th,4th,3rd strings, for example.
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Old 09-03-2023, 06:49 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmony123 View Post
I'm playing in a cover band which does rather dance-oriented tunes with lots of I-IV-V professions, with an occasional minor or 7th chord thrown into the mix. Pretty basic, but fun.

I was thinking of learning an alternate tuning just to mix things up a bit and change the flavor of the rhythm sound.
Before you consider that, I'd suggest using a capo and different chord shapes. E.g. for a song in G, capo on 7 and play in D. (I'm assuming there is another guitarist....?)
An alternative tuning could well present more problems than it solves, if the songs weren't written with open tunings in mind.
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Originally Posted by Harmony123 View Post
But there are so many alternate tunings, I don't know where to begin. I'm somewhat familiar with Drop D and Open G, and there's always Open D and a capo ...

Assuming I'm at a rehearsal and we're going over a bunch of tunes (Johnny Cash, CCR, Bill Haley, The Drifters, Beatles etc.), what tuning (apart from standard) could be used to play along with most of the songs (with or w/o capo) without having to re-tune or grab a 2nd guitar?
Personally, I really wouldn't suggest alternative tunings at all for those kinds of songs. Not unless you're making an arrangement which exploits the particular qualities of open tunings.

E.g., John Lennon used drop D for Norwegian Wood and Dear Prudence. The former doesn't really need it, while the latter depends on it, certainly if you play his fingerstyle patterns.

If I was going to use slide - say on the Johnny Cash or CCR songs - I'd use open D or open G, but otherwise not.

Of course, I'm not suggesting you shouldn't experiment! I just don't see the advantage myself (and lots of disadvantages). Unless, as I say, you're going to make a feature of that tuning, which would hardly be noticeable anyway if there is another guitar and a bass. (Even if you are the only guitarist, the presence of a bass - and keyboards? - pretty much nullifies any advantage in the different sound of an alternative tuning.)

And for a covers band playing dance music .... your audience is not going to care. Either your different tuning will go way over their heads, or they will just think you sound "wrong".

I understand a sense of "straining at the leash" - enjoying the music as you are, but feeling you want to "mix it up a bit" for your own benefit. But really you're a chef supplying the diners with their favourite dishes. "Mix it up a bit" by adding some strange herbs or spices? Is it worth the risk?
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Last edited by JonPR; 09-03-2023 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 09-04-2023, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmony123 View Post
…Assuming I'm at a rehearsal and we're going over a bunch of tunes (Johnny Cash, CCR, Bill Haley, The Drifters, Beatles etc.), what tuning (apart from standard) could be used to play along with most of the songs (with or w/o capo) without having to re-tune or grab a 2nd guitar?
Hi Harmony123
And open tunings lend themselves well to playing slide parts.

And the slide can alter your role in not only rehearsals, but performances. Slide parts stand out easily in often redundant guitar playing (several players playing the same parts in the same place on the neck with the same strumming pattern all the time).

And it's pretty easy to come up to an acceptable level once you have a decent slide and a strategy (ring or pinky slide) and master not clonking it down on the neck.

Just a thought…




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Old 09-04-2023, 09:13 AM
Harmony123 Harmony123 is offline
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Thanks guys, I appreciate the suggestions!
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Old 09-09-2023, 11:17 AM
Jeffreykip Jeffreykip is offline
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I play almost entirely in open D (DADF#AD) and my current set lists are all total sing-along favourites: Let It Be, Your Song, Free Fallin' etc. I play them all in open D, capo where I need. I am never just barring to create a chord, but have a vocabulary of chord shapes I use which I think sound much better than standard. Keys of D/E/F/G fit my voice, and the open tuning really fills up the audio space in a nice way. I usually play alone, but when someone else joins in, they can just play standard and the sound is quite nice, although it is hard to follow because you can't see the chord from my hand shape.
I use open G on about 10, and DADGAD on a small handful, but I don't like it as much as open D. I use standard where I need the key to fit, or where the voicing is really important to the song (ie Wonderwall in open D just does not sound like Wonderwall).
Inspired by James James, I have often wanted to create a channel of how-to's in open D, but I am not really the influencer or content-creator type. Tom Strahle has a lot, but he is definitely more of a pro than I am - I am just a guy who has figured them out.
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Last edited by Jeffreykip; 09-09-2023 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 09-19-2023, 08:55 PM
Charlie Bernstein Charlie Bernstein is offline
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I agree with the folks above who suggest varying your chord inversions. Just bar the A, C, E, and G shapes (and minors, sevenths, and so on) and move them up the neck. You don't have to play all six strings. Three or four are all you need, and that will let you vary between treble and bass chords.

But to answer your question, open G and open D are good for most major-key roots-style songs. DADGAD is fun, but it'll give a Celtic flavor to whatever you do because it pretty much forces you to build your chords around drone notes. For your kind of music, I'd use it sparingly.

Slide master Roy Rogers published a booklet of alternate tunings. Get it. It covers the waterfront: Open Guitar Tunings

Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 09-19-2023 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 09-20-2023, 02:56 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Hi,

I have just started in a duo with a local guitar/vocalist. We did one song at an open mic' a couple of weeks ago and got booked for a Christmas gig so we have to now build a set!

We had our first practice last night and, without even talking about it, we played through songs with our guitars in different positions, and adding something different to the mix. I had my banjo and dobro with me so for some songs I'll use those rather than guitar. I'm using dropped D for a song. And I would use DADGAD if we had a song that was a good fit. I won't be using open G or open D on guitar because I have a dobro for slide duties.

I think that it can work well to mix it around.... depending on your genera. Our set will be bluegrass/Americana/old country. Just two guitars and two voices would be OK for a whole gig (as long as the guitar parts are different voicings) but dropping in banjo, dobro and mandolin (my partner will play that on one or two songs) does add variety to an evening's entertainment.

However, as you are a dance band, I would say that your priority is the dancers. So any changes you make must have a positive impact for that specific audience.

I think that DADGAD in particular gives a real Celtic feel to a song/tune. You can drive a tune along in DADGAD - perfect for a ceilidh type of dance tune. You can hear that in Elzic's Farewell in my sig below. I used DADGAD to give it a driving rhythm that I couldn't have achieved as well in standard tuning.
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Last edited by Robin, Wales; 09-20-2023 at 04:18 AM.
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  #12  
Old 09-21-2023, 01:06 PM
rmoretti49 rmoretti49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee1404 View Post
For a real sonic change, DADGAD. I have a friend who plays guitar in a duo with a keyboard-player, doing pop songs from the late ‘60s right up to date, and DADGAD is the only tuning he ever uses - one guitar on stage, no retuning.

Here’s a link to the impressive DADGAD chord chart I use…

https://benfarmer.co.uk/wp-content/u.../07/Dadgad.pdf
Thanks so much for posting this link!!! Extremely helpful.
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Old 09-24-2023, 11:11 AM
aK_bAsh7 aK_bAsh7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Have you considered changing up the type of voicings you use in standard tuning?

A lot of the material you mention would sound great with some old school rhythm guitar voicing on the 6th,4th,3rd strings, for example.
THIS!!!!!!

Changing to another tuning is a way to change the voicings (order of intervals) of chords but you needn't change tunings to accomplish this.

Try playing on different string sets. Try playing voicings with the 3rd in the bass. Especially if you have another guitarist or a keyboard player, there is no no need to double or triple the roots! Play arpeggios. Use slash chords to create better voice leading. Use double stops.
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Old 09-24-2023, 01:01 PM
Mobilemike Mobilemike is offline
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I use open G for some songs. When it works, it sounds incredible. But there are some songs that the chord voicings in open G tuning just don’t sound right to me. Maybe I’ve played and heard them for so long in standard that they are just ingrained but for whatever reason I can’t make it work in open G. It’s nice to have both options though.
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Old 09-26-2023, 05:08 AM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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Not much more to add, as the experienced guys have covered it. I would just offer that most of that material was played in standard and the licks sound that way because of the tuning. More importantly it usually contributes to the character of the song. So just know that in many cases you'd be significantly changing the "magic" of classic material. Maybe that's your goal though.
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