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DADF#AD Open D Tuning – Key of D Major

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Today is alt tuning #2 since starting on January 1, 2016. My open string notes are:



In yesterday’s blog post, we looked at DADGAD tuning. While it’s one of the most popular alternate tunings, as we saw, it’s not very user-friendly and is actually quite limiting as far as finger positions go.

Today’s blog post is a modification of DADGAD tuning – changing the G note (string 3) to F#. What a difference changing one note can make!

DADF#AD tuning is often referred to as “Open D Tuning” which is appropriate since the open chord (playing all the strings open) is a D Major chord. This differs from DADGAD which is a D sus chord (notes D, G, and A).

Below is an improv I performed live called “See It Through” in Open D Tuning in the key of D Major. I play an added note not in this scale toward the end of the song. You win the internet if you can tell me what note that is!

NOTE: While I’m playing, I’m actually looking at this screenshot so I know where to place my fingers in this tuning:

After the video, I’ll walk you through detailed instructions and screenshots of the Major and Minor chords in DADF#AD tuning in D Major.

Let’s take a look at all the places you can play the D Major chord in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning. 

The D Major scale has (3) Major chords: D Maj, G Maj and A Maj. We’ll look at all three below.

Here are the locations of the notes D, F#, and A (the D Major chord) in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

One of the benefits of playing in an open tuning like Open D is that you don’t have to play any notes on the fretboard to play the D Major chord. Another benefit is that it’s easy to get your fingers on the notes of the D Major chord (D, F# and A) while being able to let the open string notes ring as you play up the fretboard.

Now let’s check out the G Major chord in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

While it may seem challenging to play all the notes of the G Major chord in Drop D tuning (because only the D notes are available with the open strings), playing string 5/fret 2 (B), string 3/fret 1 (G) and string 2/fret 2 (B) while playing the open D notes on strings 1, 4 and 6 offers a rich, full G Major chord sound.

What you may notice is that even though it’s a G Major chord, the note (G) only appears once using this finger position. On top of that, it’s not the first note in the chord and is actually the fourth note if you strum the chord from low to high.

I like to play this first position then as a variation of the chord, slide up to the 5th fret and bar my index finger across all the strings to play the G Major chord. What I like about this variation is that there are (3) G notes in this position.

The screenshot below shows the A Major chord in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

Playing the A Major chord in Open D tuning offers some really interesting options. In the first position (closest to the nut), you can play the following:

  • String 6 – Do not play
  • String 5 – Open (A)
  • String 4 – Fret 2 (E)
  • String 3 – Fret 3 (A)
  • String 2 – Fret 4 (C#)
  • String 1 – Fret 2 (E)

Another great option is to bar your index finger across fret 2 and play:

  • String 6 – Fret 2 (E)
  • String 5 – Fret 4 (C#)
  • String 4 – Fret 2 (E)
  • String 3 – Fret 3 (A)
  • String 2 – Fret 4 (C#)
  • String 1 – Fret 2 (E)

The chord voicings of this position of A Major offer a great variation to the first position. For a third variation, you can bar your finger across fret 7 and play A Major. Of course you can experiment trying different positions that sound good to you.

The D Major scale has (3) Minor chords: E m, F#/Gb m and B m, illustrated in the screenshots below.

Let’s take a look at all the places you can play the E m chord (E, G, and B) in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

Playing E Minor in Open D tuning is a bit of a challenge. First, none of the notes of the E Minor chord (E, G and B) are open – meaning you can’t play any open strings.

In looking at the screenshot above, you might think it’s easy to just bar your index finger across the second fret and play the B note on string 3/fret 5. While this option does work, you’re only playing part of the chord (missing the G note).

You can play the G note on string 4/fret 5, but for some, this might be a challenging finger position to play.

A finger position I really like is:

  • String 6 – Fret 5 (G)
  • String 5 – Fret 7 (E)
  • String 4 – Fret 5 (G)
  • String 3 – Fret 5 (B)
  • String 2 – Fret 7 (E)
  • String 1 – Fret 5 (G)

The chord voicings of this position of the E Minor chord offer a fresh sound to a very common chord.

Now let’s dive into the F# Minor chord (F#, A, and C#) in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

It can be a challenge to play all the notes of the F# Minor chord in the first position for F# Minor in Open D tuning.

Try this finger position:

  • String 6 – Fret 4 (F#)
  • String 5 – Open (A)
  • String 4 – Fret 4 (F#)
  • String 3 –  Open (F#)
  • String 2 – Fret 4 (C#)
  • String 1 – Fret 4 (F#)

Now that’s a lot of F# notes. While you’re using all 4 fingers to play this position, leaving room for strings 3 and 5 to ring open, it’s a great sounding F# chord.

Another position for F# Minor is similar to the E Minor finger position, barring your index finger across fret 4 and playing string 4/fret 7 (A) and string 3/fret 7 (C#). Like the E Minor chord, this position can be challenging for some players to get their fingers on all the notes.

Finally, let’s check out the B Minor chord in DADF#AD (Open D) tuning:

B Minor is a great chord in Open D tuning. For the first position there are (4) open strings you can play, featuring (3) D notes and an F#. You can easily play the B notes on string 5/fret 2 and string 2/fret 2.

Another position is to bar your index finger across fret 4 and play string 5/fret 5 (D), string 3/fret 5 (B) and string 2/fret 5 (D). This position has 3 F# notes and only (1) B note but may work as a nice variation to the first position.

Of course, you can always experiment and come up with your own favorite positions and voicings. That’s one of the benefits of seeing all the notes of each chord on the fretboard in these screenshots. You can come up with your own unique way of playing each chord and you don’t have to guess where the notes are – anymore!

May these daily alt tunings continue to inspire you as you explore songwriting beyond the limitations of standard tuning. If you’d like to learn more about making alt tuning a part of your songwriting, give me a call at 888-7-GUITAR or reach out to me here.

Until next time…

~Scott Quillin

Did you know? Scott started playing guitar when he was 14 years old back in 1982. A Pittsburgh native, Scott resides in Rhode Island where he teaches guitar, bass, music and songwriting. He also records and mixes songs for local bands and artists as well as his own music. He writes and records nearly every day and has a real passion to help others hear their “inner voice” and express that in songs.

You can listen to more of Scott’s music at

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