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Open Tuning, Found on Reverb -

"I was reading Keith Richards' fantastic autobiography Life recently and was struck by a particular passage wherein he describes the newfound energy that open G tuning brought to his playing. I immediately tuned my guitar to open G and spent the next hour trying to nail "Brown Sugar" and "Can't You Hear me Knocking."

Open tunings aren't exactly new territory in my playing, but I still felt that same sense of liberation and discovery that Keith describes. Anyone who's ever dabbled in a non-standard tuning knows the blessed ignorance it can bring. It heightens your senses, ignites your creativity, and removes the familiar shackles that often come with standard tuning.

In celebration of the liberating effects of alternate tunings, I thought we'd spend some time today exploring the tunings that define the work of a handful of landmark players.

Of course, this list is far from exhaustive, and alternate and open tunings are as old as the guitar itself. A whole generation of blues musicians relied on open tunings in their sliding and picking, and their style paved the way for most other genres of popular music over the past century."

The picture at the link is of Joni Mitchell, who embraced open tunings early on. 60% of Robert Johnson's songs on his iconic record were in Open G. Don Everly on "Bye, Bye Love."

"We'll start with Keith himself and his famous open G. While the honorable Mr. Richards has played in many tunings — including the open D and E he copped from Don Everly — it's open G that people think of when they think of Keith and the riffs of the Rolling Stones.

Keith credits Ry Cooder for showing him this tuning and cites a generation of blues players who made the leap from banjo to guitar, bringing banjo tuning along with them. In removing the low E-string from the guitar altogether, Keith's famous Tele, Micawber, is essentially tuned as a standard banjo. Even as the Stones became less and less of a straight blues band at the end of the '60s, Keith's chords and structures kept a firm link to the core blues tradition.

As Keith describes on page 243 of Life:

"The beauty, the majesty of the five-string open G tuning for an electric guitar is that you've only got three notes — the other two are repetitions of each other an octave apart. It's tuned GDGBD. Certain strings run through the whole song, so you get a drone going all the time, and because it's electric they reverberate. Only three notes, but because of these different octaves, it fills the whole gap between bass and top notes with sounds. It gives you this beautiful resonance and ring. I found working with open tunings that there's a million places you don't need to put your fingers. The notes are there already. You can leave certain strings wide open. It's finding the space in between that makes open tunings work. If you're working the right chord, you can hear this other chord going on behind it, which actually you're not playing.. It's there. It defies logic….It's called the drone note. Or at least that's what I call it."

More at the link:

For some reason, I gravitated to the Open G tuning Kieth favors.  Count the strings......  The distinctive Stones sound results from the interplay between the two guitars each tuned differently. "Dead Flowers," "Gloom and Doom," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Jumping Jack Flash," "Love is Strong," "Gimme Shelter," "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Women," the list goes on.








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