Lessons by Robert Johnston
At some point in your guitar playing journey, you may find it fascinating to explore open tunings. Not only does it change the way the guitar sounds and the way you play, but there are also certain styles more conducive to open tuning. Plus there's a good chance you'll find it fun and inspiring. So if you're ready for something refreshing and different, let's take a dabble in some open tuning!
Basically, the way to approach an open tuning is to first understand that whatever chord you've tuned the guitar to, you'll most likely want to play in that key, or at least use the open chord as a tonal base for a modal progression. Also key changes become a little more tricky. Secondly, you may want to map out the notes of the key on the fretboard and a handful of chord inversions for your progression. When I compose for guitar, I like to take a low, mid, and high approach, where I come up with ideas in the low, middle, and high range of the neck. This allows for a greater range of creative expression, especially when it comes to phrasing and movement.
This piece is in open G tuning, where the guitar is tuned to a G Major chord (D,G,D,G,B,D), and is inspired by an exercise I wrote for one of my students, Ryan, who wanted to experiment with open tunings this past year, so I wrote a few custom exercises for him in various open tunings. Thanks for the inspiration Ryan!
Technique-wise, I'm gently palm-muting the fifth string for the thumping bass notes. As opposed to alternating fingers as in a more classical approach, instead I'm using a folk-style finger picking technique, mostly assigning one finger per string, for an even consistency of tone. Isn't it nice when you get to break the rules a little bit?
The sheet music and tab for this piece is posted below. If you find it a bit too tough or challenging, don't worry; It's always fun to just experiement with open tunings and come up with ideas of your own, no matter what level you are. The important thing is to have fun and stay inspired!
Click here for the tabs!