Guitar Lesson

Open Minor Tunings

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Want an easy way to broaden your musical range with open tunings? Try open minor.

From Leo Kottke to Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters to Jimmy Page, Elmore James to Kaki King, open tunings — altering standard tuning (EADGBE) to pitches that create a chord when all the strings are played open — can be heard on countless classic recordings. In my experience, by far the most ubiquitous of the open tunings are the major sounds, specifically open D and open G, both of which hold their own special charms. However, there is a secret that open minor tunings — in the case of this lesson, open D minor and open G minor — possess that can effortlessly generate more variety than the major tunings: It’s the little-known fact that, by adding one finger to any of the minor chords, one can instantly turn it into a major chord, thus giving players more harmonic range. This trick is not so easily performed in open major tunings. Thus, this lesson demonstrates how to double your harmonic possibilities with just one finger.

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