Before we begin, I'd like to cover why there are so many tunings, why don't we just stick to one. I mean, what is so special about making your guitar dropped lower or, being able to hit one extra fret higher by giving it some extra tension. Well, it really has to do with the individual. Some do it, because they honestly want a song to sound in that key, some pitch-perfect people can tell that the vocals aren't perfectly in sync with their guitar, or they just really want to sound lower or higher. Or maybe, it's not any of that. For there are the other sort of tunings like open tunings, where people play it as if it's slide guitar, or they're really into blues they may tune their guitar accordingly.
Note: for standard tunings, in order to tune the guitar to itself, place your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string, and play the 5th string, tune the guitar until both strings are in unison, then play the 5th fret on the 5th string with the 4th string and tune until the strings are in unison, then move up to the 4th string and play the 5th fret with the 3rd string and tune until they are in unison, then play the 4th fret on the 3rd string with the 2nd string, and tune until they are in unison, and then play the 5th fret on the 2nd string with the 1st string, and... you guessed it... tune until they are in unison.
Most guitars use Standard E, usually just shortened to Standard; its notes are E A D G B E. If you can't get this far, you shouldn't even consider changing your tuning.
Standard Eb is another common tuning. Especially for those guitarists that use high gauge strings, such as 11's or 12's or 13's. In order to achieve this tuning, all you have to do, is make every string flat, or put it down one semi-tone. Tuning notes are Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb. The way to tune this without a chromatic tuner (though again, I strongly recommend it, especially if you want to tune to tunings like this or lower, or if you get into open tunings) is to tune it like you would if you were tuning your guitar to itself in standard, but instead of using the 5th fret (or in the case of tuning the B string, the 4th fret) you use the 6th fret (5th fret for the B string).
Standard D is achieved by taking every string down 2 semi-tones, or a whole step. This is an abnormal tunings, as are any Standard tunings below Standard Eb, or above standard E. The notes for this tuning are D G C F A D. In order to achieve this tuning without a chromatic tuner (but for God's sake, you need one for this) tune by using the 7th fret instead of 5th fret, and the 6th fret instead of the 4th fret.
Standard F is a very abstract tuning, I've only heard of it, and have never seen or heard it used. In order to tune to this, it's recommended you use a lighter gauge string than 9, for the added tension risks damage to your neck (though it's doubted that it will happen if you're only using 9's. It's recommended to use 8's for this tuning, though. In order to tune to this tuning, you go the opposite way the others have, for they have been tuning down, this needs to be tuned up. Tuning notes are F Bb Eb Ab C F. In order to tune this, take off a fret on the guide. So, use the 4th fret instead of the 5th fret, and the 3rd fret instead of the 4th fret.
There are other Standard Tunings, but, if you read all this, I think you can use your own judgement to figure them out if necessary; however they are very unusual, and almost never used.Drop Tunings:
Note: The purpose of a drop tuning is to allow a person to do power chords by just using a bar with their finger. The goal isn't so much to make it that much easier to do a power chord, but, to make it so that you can change power chords faster, for I don't care how fast you can slide your hand, it'll still go faster if you don't use that shape. To tune a Drop tuning, there are 2 ways to do it, the first way, which people usually will tell you to do, is to play the 6th and 4th (or E and D) strings together, until the 6th string is an octave below the 4th string. The way I usually do it, and is also a good way, is to use the 7th fret on the 6th string and tune it until it is in unison with the 5th string (much like people will tell you to do, in order to tune the guitar to itself).
The second most common tuning (or so it seems) is Drop D. In this tuning the E string is dropped 2 semi-tones (or frets) so that power chords can be done in a bar form (or just with one finger put over the strings, for those that haven't gotten to barre chords yet). The notes for this are DADGBE. In order to tune this without a chromatic tuner (though I strongly recommend getting one), there are 2 ways to do it, the first way, which people usually will tell you to do, is to play the 6th and 4th (or E and D) strings together, until the 6th string is an octave below the 4th string. The way I usually do it, and is also a good way, is to use the 7th fret on the 6th string and tune it until it is in unison with the A string (much like people will tell you to do, in order to tune the guitar to itself). Yeah, I repeated myself, but... hey...
This is an uncommon tuning, but I saw it recently when attempting to play a Three Days Grace song, so I will cover it. Notes are Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb. In order to get this tuning, use Standard Eb, and then follow the instructions for putting it in drop. I don't want to dwell too much on this; chances are you'll never use it.
This tuning is common for metal songs, and it's also an indicator that you're a System of a Down fan or Godsmack fan (I'm both). The notes of this tuning are C G C F A D. In order to tune to this, use Standard D, but tune your 6th string 2 semi-tones down, or, in other words, use Standard D, and then follow the instructions to get your guitar into a Drop tuning.
Welcome to nu-metal country. This is the prime choice of tuning for bands like Slipknot (not that I don't love their stuff, for they are a great band). If you're going to tune to this, I strongly recommend upping your string gauges to 12's or 13's. Your 6th string should be at a gauge somewhere around .057. Back to the tuning at hand... This is the second lowest drop that is somewhat commonly used the other is Drop A, but, we'll get into that when I talk about 7-string tunings. Anywho...
Notes for Drop B: B Gb B E Ab Db. In order to tune your guitar to this... GET A CHROMATIC TUNER YOU LAZY SOB!
Sorry... I just really don't want to write this out... The Standard tuning for this would be Db, so, out of standard E (that's right, think back to the top of the page here) you'd have to use the 8th fret instead of the 5th, and the 7th fret instead of the 4th, then, use the formula for drop tunings and throw it into drop. I guess that wasn't so bad. But seriously, if you're going to do this sort of tuning. Get a chromatic tuner. It's a necessity, and will save you a lot of grief.
Note: Open tunings have no specific way to tune them without a chromatic tuner, so... you know what... I REALLY don't want to try, if you have that much of a problem, go ahead and drop someone a line and they'll help you out into tuning your guitar into it. But, I've already spent an hour, and I don't want to spend 5 doing this. The purpose of open tunings, as far as I know is to allow you to make a chord in just a solid barre across all the strings. I'm not an open tuning user, I'm just here to explain how to get it, so, don't ask me much more than this about why open tunings are there. Though, they are necessary for slide guitar type things. Though the first few have a few things on string gauges, my computer's not wanting to work with me, and so, I'm just going to put in the notes for a lot of these. Also, many of these tunings aren't called open, but they're meant to be played open, so I include them in the set.
Open E (major)
Open E is well, the first on the list, I recommend using 8's on this tuning, as it will force you to up tune your strings. You can mix and match as well, though. Tuning notes: E B E Ab B E.
Open E minor
Once again, this will force you to up tune your 5th and 4th strings, so, I recommend lightening the string gauge to 8 or 9. Tuning notes: E B E G B E.
This is usually used on a lute. And honestly, I know NOTHING about this tuning, never used it, and I don't know why you'd use it, seems kind of like a jazz thing... Tuning notes: E A D Gb B E.
Open D (major)
Tuning Notes: D A D Gb A D.
Open D minor
Tuning Notes: D A D F A D.
Tuning Notes: D A D G A D.
Tuning Notes: D A D Gb B D.
This is almost Standard tuning, so I wouldn't go with any heavy gauges here.
Tuning notes: D A D Gb B E.
Tuning notes: D A D A C D.
Tuning notes: D G C G C D.
Open C (major)
Definitely get out a heavy gauge for this one. 11's or 12's should do it. But, still keep lighter top strings.
Tuning notes: C G C G C E.
Tuning notes: C A C G C E.
Tuning notes: C G E G B E.
Notes: C G D G B E.
C maj 7/11
Tuning notes: C F C G B E.
Why it's called that is beyond me.
Tuning notes: C G E G C E.
Tuning notes: C G D A E G.
Open A (major)
Tuning notes: E A E A Db E.
Open A minor
Tuning notes: E A E A C E.
Open G (major)
Tuning notes: D G D G B D.
Open G minor
Tuning notes: D G D G Bb D.
Tuning notes: D G D G B E.
Tuning notes: D G D F# B D.
Tuning notes: D G D G B C.
Open F minor
Tuning notes: C F C F Ab F.
Open F (major)
Tuning notes: C F C F A F.
These are the tunings that no one really ever uses. And even some guitar elite have never heard of, hell, I didn't even know they existed until I started doing this and discovered them. Well, here they are.
The Drone Tunings
There are 12 drone tunings. Drone Tunings are just the same note repeated over 6 times. So E E E E E E or A A A A A A. They can be in different octaves, but, that's how it works.
C 6th (Mauna Loa)
The Mauna Loa tuning is really just a C major chord add 6. Notes are C G C G A E
Double Drop D
This goes off drop D, but, both the 6th and 1st strings are dropped to D. So... D A D G B D. Purpose? Hell if I know.
This is really only a 5-note tuning, but, it can be transferred over to a 6-note tuning by dropping another E in there as the bottom note. Notes: (E) A B D E G
E Power Chord
One of the weirdest tunings I have witnessed, but... here it is. Completely non-minor and non-major. The full out version of the Drop Chord. Notes: E B E B E B
Really, for those of you that have 7-strings, for open tunings, just copy another string in there as the bottom string. I'm only going to deal with the 2 common 7-string tunings.
This is just a simple Standard tuning, but starts on B instead of E. Notes: B E A D G B E.
This is for the serious low-tuner. This is one hardcore tuning. So, here you are. Drop the 7th string to an A and your good to go. Notes: A E A D G B E.
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