Discover the Most Beautiful Sound (Open "C" Tuning)

Looking for a BIG beautiful guitar sound from a unique open tuning? Hey, You're in Luck... Look no further than "Open C" tuning. Open "C" offers guitar players deep bass and colorful intervals that are perfect for creating lush harmony combined with rich melodic overtones...

How often do you change the tuning of your guitar? Most of us will hardly ever do this. We tend to keep the standard tuning and we just leave the guitar like that.

However, changing the tuning (into an “Open Tuning”), can be a great way to expand the knowledge of an important area of study, (the study of intervals on the guitar neck).

When we tune to an open chord we have to view the guitar neck in a new way and we do that using intervals. In this lesson we’re going to check out a unique sound based upon the tuning of, “Open C.”


The first thing to learn is how to place the guitar into open “C” tuning.

Essentially what we’re really doing here is tuning all of our open strings into the harmony of a “C Major” chord.

To do this, we’ll begin by dropping our low 6th string down from an open “E” note two steps lower into a “C” tone.

Then, we’ll take our 5th string from an open “A” tone down a whole step to a “G”. Next, we’ll also drop our 4th string down a whole step from “D” down to an open “C” tone.

The 3rd string will stay the same, but the open 2nd string will become raised up a half-step to a “C.” And then, finally, our 1st guitar string will remain the same - staying as the open 1st string “E.”

Alright, now that we’ve established our open “C” tuning, the next thing to do is learn a few of the popular chord shapes that are common to Open “C”.

The first thing that I like doing with an open tuning is learning the intervals of the relative quality chord of the tuning. The relative Minor for our tuning of “C Major” is going to be an “A Minor.”

One of the more common shapes for “A Minor” in this tuning looks like this.

The next chord that I like to search for when I’m in an open tuning, is the 5th chord degree of the harmony. In “Open C” the fifth chord is “G Major.” Here’s a common “G” chord pattern for “Open C.” 

The next chord that I like to scope out when I'm learning a new open tuning is the fourth degree chord, which in this case is an “F.” So, here’s a popular “F Major” chord that you’ll find in “Open C.”

And, finally, I also show you the “Minor 7th” second degree chord harmonized from this open tuning. In our case it’s the chord of “D Minor 7th.”

NOTE: Strumming all strings "open" generates a "C Major" chord.

At this point we have four chord types that are all important harmonic degrees off of the established open ”C” tuning. When we combine them with the open strings…(which of course generates our open “C Major” chord in this case), we now have five chords all together.

This is more than enough to start composing some progressions within this “Open” tuning! We could also use these chords to harmonize other pieces of music that we might want to sing, or record, or perform with other musicians.

Right now, for our example, I’m going to combine some of these chords and create a couple of chord progressions, so you can realize just how easy it is to apply these chords.


Example 1).

Example 2).

Both of these progressions are quite straight-forward with the small exception of the second one (that as you likely noticed in the video), I shifted a couple of our chord patterns laterally along the neck.

This is one of the really cool aspects of using an open tuning. See, once we discover both the intervals and the harmonic qualities of a few chord patterns in our open tuning, we can slide chord patterns laterally around the neck and establish new sounds - that generally hold true to the overall harmonic function of our initial chord shape.

In the second progression I moved that “F” chord up to a “G.” And, I also moved up that “Dm7” chord, giving me a “Cmaj7/E” (which is pretty much the same chord color and quality as an, “E Minor”).

Now, of course, you don’t really need to know about all of the music theory behind the chord names, because in the end, you can always just use your ear to decide upon what sounds good, or perhaps doesn’t sound too good, from your open tuning.

As always, thanks for joining me, if you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube, (and remember to hit that bell when you subscribe so that you’ll never miss any of my uploads to YouTube)… Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next lesson.

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