Transform the Way You Play Blues: "Open D Blues"

Do you enjoy open tuning? How about some smooth South-West Blues in “Open D?” If you like Blues and you’re okay with changing the tuning set-up (of a couple of guitar strings), you’re going to have a lot of fun with this lesson plan that I have for you today... 


In getting started, let’s adjust our tuning, so that we’re all set-up into the new tuning of, “Open D.”

Open “D” requires that our; 6th, and 1st strings drop down a whole-step (from the note of “E”), to the note of “D.”

The second guitar string will also drop down a whole-step from open “B” down to an “A.”

Along with those strings, the only other string that we need to worry about is the 3rd. The 3rd string “G” will get lowered by a ½ step down to an “F#.”

Once you get all of those strings down to those new notes, you’re guitar will be tuned;
“D, A, D, F#, A, D.” In other words, your guitar becomes a giant OPEN “D Major” chord…

Now that you’re guitar is tuned into the sound of “Open D,” we can start learning some nice sounding “Open D” Blues chords… Afterward, we’ll apply them across a traditional 12-Bar progression in a “South-Western” style jam.

We’re going to keep things pretty simple by just focusing on a couple of easy chord patterns that correspond to our new tuning arrangement.

The first of these chord shapes, will be based upon the awareness that our new tuning produces a big, “D Major” chord from off of the open strings.

This also means that our, IVth and Vth chords (the “G and A”), will also be based upon the tuning of the open strings. From this we achieve barre chords at the 5th and 7th frets.

The only other shape that you’ll need is one which you’re likely already familiar with… It looks like the standard 6th string root “Dominant 7th” barre chord...

We’ll use those chord shapes (with some nice bluesy strumming, to highlight the changes), and that’s pretty much it.

Next, let’s move through our 12-bar South-western blues.


Playing in this style of Blues can be a lot of fun especially for getting together and jamming with other people... So, if you do that, or maybe if you’re just gonna be at home laying down some loop tracks and you get ‘the urge’ to toss in some lead and solo… 

I’m going to show you an easy scale pattern for the application of some soloing when you’re jamming in, “Open D.”

Below is a break-down of an along the neck “Open D” scale pattern that works great when you’re playing in this tuning and in this style.

Along the neck "Open D" Blues major:

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