Songs With Alternate Tunings


Different Tuning For Each Song!!

At some point in time you will be wanting to explore the possibilities of Alternate Tunings.
This will open up a whole new frontier for you where the possibilities are are almost endless.

Some of the guitar players of yesteryear simply used Open Tunings to work around the Standard Tuning.

And just like then, todays guitarist still use these tunings in all styles of music. Lets see what you could be missing!

It is not my intention of teaching you how to use these tunings here only to show you some of the songs that incorporate those tunings. And to tell you what tuning their in so you can start to learn them accordingly.

As I’ve stated before I’m not a teacher and I wouldn’t want to teach you some bad habits that will be hard to break later on. But I’ll have some recommendations to help you with that.

First Lets Tune Up!

This post isn’t going to take long at all. So get you something to drink and a piece of paper to write on maybe unless you have a good memory. I’m going to give you some songs you might have heard before maybe then again maybe not. But either way most you’ll recognize from the start.

Okay for the reference point lets start with the Standard 440 Tuning of your guitar.
If your not sure what that is and how to do this, I suggest you get back to your teacher and ask.
In any case if your ear is not trained to hear these notes then your going to need an electronic tuner to tune them strings according to the description below.


A tuner to help with those Alternate Tunings

  • 1st string is the high E string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 1=E
  • 2nd string up is the B string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 2=B
  • 3rd string up is the G string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 3=G
  • 4th string up is the D string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 4=D
  • 5th string up is the A string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 5=A
  • 6th string up is the Low E string, thats what you tune it to. Heres what it looks like for us: 6=E

Thats Standard Tuning
6=E, 5=A, 4=D, 3=G, 2=B, 1=E


Find Out What Tuning You Need


Different tunings! Get help

Before we get started just to let you know that you won’t be able to play the normal chord voicing you’ve been use to playing with most of these tunings.

With a little picking around and trial and error you’ll eventually pick the chords out.

Or you can ask a friend to help if they know how. Or still the best and fastest way is to ask your teacher to help you.

You can also find some added help with these tunings within the community at Acoustic Guitar.



Kid Rock and Zac Brown playing guitar on stage

Songs You Might Have Heard

Drop D Tuning
6= Lower one whole step to D, 5=A, 4=D, 3=G, 2=B, 1=E

  • Dear Prudence – The Beatles
  • Buddys Grove – Buddy Guy
  • Loving Cup – The Rolling Stones

Related Tuning to Open D is: D-A-D-G-A-D
6= Lower whole step to D, 5=A, 4=D, 3=G, 2= Lower whole step to A, 1= Lower whole step to D

  • Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
  • She Moves Through The Fair – Davey Graham (who greatly influenced Jimmy Page)

Another Related Tuning to Open D is: Open E
6= E, 5=Raise one whole step to B, 4= Raise one whole step to E,
3= Raise 1/2 step to G sharp, 2=B, 1=E

  • Little Martha – Allman Brothers
  • Shattered – The Rolling Stones

Kashmir – Led Zeppelin


This is but a very small sample of some of these tunings that are used. And as you can hear they do add that certain texture to the over all sound of the music. Its always fun trying these different tunings. And if the song your working on calls for it, at least you’ll know a few of them.

There are many styles of music in which Songs With Alternate Tunings are written and performed. So to help speed up your learning curve its always best to Find a Renowned Teacher to Learn From.

Do you have a Favorite Tuning?
Leave me a comment and if you have a question put that in the comments
Sharing is Caring so Share it with a friend.





22 thoughts on “Songs With Alternate Tunings

  1. Donna

    Great article on tuning, and I love the header picture, superb. I have shared this with my daughter, my grandson is learning guitar so they will find some useful info here.

    1. Markus Post author

      Hey Donna its good to see that you have young and may I say up and coming musicians in the family.
      Alternate tunings will come in handy at some point in their learning. The trick is to find the right teacher to learn from.
      Glad to see that you stopped in come back with the students some time as I’ll have plenty for them here.

      Thanks 🙂

  2. theresa r

    Hi, I love your website and you deliver everytime great information for guitar lovers, my dad would love this article, he has played the guitar for as long as I can remember.

    1. Markus Post author

      Welcome back Theresa, its good to see you stopped by. Get that dad of yours over here!
      I look forward to talking guitars and music with him. And I’m sure he likes to play with some of these Alternate Tunings.
      Talk to you the next time you stop in.

      Thanks 🙂

  3. william bannar

    Love your post, very educational about tunnings! I actually learned quite a lot about it. Thank you and great job!

    1. Markus Post author

      Thank you William, I’m glad you liked it. There are a plethora of tunings to draw from all with a very distinct sound.
      Wished I could have covered more of them. Maybe the next time though. Thanks for stopping by come back and see us again.

      Thanks 🙂

    1. Markus Post author

      Hello Misty glad to see you. I take it that your son and brother are both musicians? Let them know to come give us a look at.
      We’ll have plenty of guitars, lessons and discussions about music in general coming up. Talk to you soon.

      Thanks 🙂

  4. Bryan

    Thanks for the info…I have always wondered what they meant by drop D. I guess it requires alternate finger placement for the chords like you mentioned, huh?

    I’ll check it out!

    1. Markus Post author

      Hello Brian, thanks for stopping by. You know drop D is just a good place to start where you can get the feel of some of the alternate tunings.
      You’ll find that in this tuning most open chord shapes on the first five strings will be the same as the ones fretted in standard tuning.
      And other keys will work in this tuning. Songs that are in the key of D major and D minor work very well because of the low D in the bass.
      Thanks for stopping by, I do look forward to talking with you again.

      Thanks 🙂

  5. Jean

    Wow! Lots of great information in this article. I love the Led Zepplin video and the overall feel of your site. I will be passing this on to a friend who is an avid guitar player. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Markus Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Jean. I look forward to your friend coming over and checking us out.
      Alternate tunings would be of interest to any avid guitarist. Talk to you on your next visit.

      Thanks 🙂

    1. Markus Post author

      James glad to hear you have family members that are learning guitar. Alternate tunings is for more of an advanced player.
      It could be a good thing to get a little head start on them. So yeah get your nephews over here and we’ll head them in the right direction.

      Thanks 🙂

  6. Jason

    I once took up playing guitar but never stuck at it. I liked rock music and saw the likes of Slash and Angus Young ripping out great tunes and thought I’d love to be able to do this. Also as a teenager the thought also was to impress the ladies. Unfortunately I never got good at it as I had way too many distractions the “Ladies”, being one.

    I enjoyed your post and really enjoyed the Led Zeppelin video. It’s great to see Jimmy Page still has it.

    1. Markus Post author

      I hear what your saying Jason, trying to learn guitar is demanding enough without those other distractions that tend to come into play when you pick up that guitar.
      Thats just one of the reasons why I think that learning guitar and.or music in general is best when started at a young age. At least that one distraction won’t be there.
      Yeah Jimmy Page still plays a mean guitar, glad you like it as it was a good example of songs being played in alternate tunings. Come back and see me soon.

      Thanks 🙂

  7. Laura

    Hi Markus,
    I haven’t heard Kashmir in such a long time…it was a pleasure to hear it again. Good idea to put the youtube video here. Anyway, my favorite guitar player is Eric Clapton. I’m sure his guitar was not an ordinary one!
    I don’t know anything about guitar, I played as a teen, but that’s it. But you know how it is, we don’t need to know the details of music, as long as it reaches our souls… 🙂
    And to create that, musicians have to study and your post looks like offering very good info. Good job!

    God….this song is divine!…thank you for it.

    1. Markus Post author

      Hello Laura, I love the song to Robert Plant sounds as good as he always did. Guitarist don’t get any better than Jimmy Page. Kashmir I think was a good example of songs with alternate tunings.
      Being a beginner guitarist in your teen years as well as now I’m sure you can appreciate the use and learning curve of alternate tunings. I believe Eric Clapton has a number of guitars, usually I’ve seen him playing mostly Martin guitars when he’s playing acoustics. Thanks for stopping in Laura come back and see us again.

      Thanks 🙂

  8. Robert

    WOW! That video of Led Zeppelin doing Kashmir, one of my 3 favorite Zeppelin songs, was amazing! They still sound great for being in their late 60s, early 70s (Page is the oldest). Still saddened at how John Bohnam died. But that young drummer did a good job.

    I have many musician friends and many of them are guitarists, I am always amazed at how in tune their hearing is when they are tuning their guitars. For me, not being a musician, I don’t hear that much of a difference. 🙂

    Great post!

    1. Markus Post author

      Hey Robert, Led Zeppelin still has it going on after so many years. Your right that young drummer does a very good job.
      I could see where these sounds wouldn’t be noticed by you, not being a musician most can’t tell. But the truth of the matter!
      Most of us players can’t tell either, I mean we can as we hear the root notes. Its only after we start to put the song together that we recognize that is in an alternate tuning.
      The main thing Robert is you liked what you heard. Look forward to your return visit.

      Thanks 🙂

  9. Neil

    Hey, Markus

    I didn’t really know the importance of tuning until I read your article, and maybe because I only had a couple of lessons on my guitar, learning the basics from a friend lol. I must admit, I did get a little frustrated when trying to put my fingers on the right strings, and it seemed difficult to do too. Maybe I need to learn every day and get better with practice, I guess 🙂

    Great post though and something I will remember when I reach a good level of guitar playing. Neil

    1. Markus Post author

      Don’t fret it to much (pardon the pun) Your right as with anything else it just takes a few minuets a day of practice, and before long you’ll notice the difference.
      Just keep hammering on that guitar and soon your fingers will be strong and they will seem to have a memory on where to go.
      There are some finger exercises that you can do to improve that. You can google this or let me know and I will get you taken care of. Stop back by again Neil.

      Thanks 🙂


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