Open G guitar tuning: From Keith Richards to Hawaiian Slack Key guitar
Well, sort of.
What makes Open G tuning different from standard guitar tuning is that strings 6, 5, and 1 are each tuned two half-steps lower.
- Tune the lowest string, 6, down to D, an octave below string 4
- Tune string 5 down to G, an octave below string 3.
- Then tune string 1 down to D, an octave above string 4, or two octaves above 6.
Whether played on six strings or five, the magical six-four chord became a key feature of Rolling Stones songs from that point on.
Blues guitar in Open G tuning
Using Open G tuning for blues guitar goes all the way back. Blues legend Robert Johnson, for example, tuned to open G for “Crossroad Blues,” “Walkin’ Blues” and “Come on in My Kitchen.”
Open G tuning for slide guitar
Because it’s an “open” tuning — meaning the guitar is tuned to a chord with the strings played “open,” without any fingering — Open G is useful for playing slide guitar, which uses a glass or metal slide across all or some strings sliding up or down the neck to produce chord changes and melody.
Open G tuning = “Taro Patch”
Another startling revelation about Open G tuning is that in the world of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, the Open G tuning is known as “Taro Patch,” the most common tuning used in Slack Key guitar.
Anyway, having talked with several guitarists over the past few months who, like me, were previously unfamiliar with Open G, I thought it might be helpful to post these few things I have learned about it. It’s fun to change things up now and then, and a secret that spans everything from Keith Richards to Hawaiian Slack Key guitar clearly has some useful versatility.