There are many alternate tunings to learn and experiment with when learning to play guitar. Open G tuning is one of the most versatile and used alternate tunings, which is often preferred in rock songs.
First, you will need to drop your low E string, A string, and your high E string down 1 whole step resulting in a DGDGBD tuning which is called the Open G tuning. This tuning allows players to play the G chord without pressing any frets just by strumming the open strings. That is the reason why it is called the Open G tuning.
The Open G tuning gives new possibilities of playing and songwriting with its bluesy tone. It has many advantages like different chord voicings, single finger barre chords, easy finger-picking style playing, and its suitability for slide guitar. That is why this tuning is mainly preferred by blues, classic rock, and folk bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, Joni Mitchell, and Robert Johnson.
Let’s learn some iconic songs in the Open G tuning to get more familiar with what it has to offer.
Uprising – Muse
Uprising is the lead single of the 2009 album, The Resistance, by the famous English rock band Muse. Like most of the songs of the band, it has the unique epic character of Muse songs, with great guitar tones and riffs accompanied by Matt Bellamy’s great vocals. The song became Muse’s best-selling single and was certified gold in four countries, including the United Kingdom, platinum in two countries, and double-platinum in the United States.
The song is played with guitars tuned to the open G tuning and adds plenty of distortion, among other effects such as phaser and fuzz. It is an easy song to play in which the main riff is played with double-note power chords.
Mercy – Duffy
The famous Welsh singer, songwriter, and artist Duffy’s first hit song, Mercy, was released back in 2008, which had unprecedented international chart success. The song is considered her signature tune and was nominated for a Grammy the same year.
Mercy is a quite easy song to play with only 4 basic chords, G, C, D, and F. As the guitar tuning is an open G tuning, the chord shapes are different yet quite easy to get used to. You can deploy a basic strum pattern to play the song.
If you are interested in other open alternate tunings, check my other song list Top 40 Famous Guitar Songs In Open D Tuning – Tabs Included
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked – Cage the Elephant
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked is one of the top hits of the American rock band Cage The Elephant, which was released in 2008. The alternative rock tune was featured in many T.V. series like Leverage and The Vampire Diaries, as well as the famous video game Borderlands.
The song is played with easy single-finger barre chords, thanks to the open G tuning. The challenge comes with the slide guitar parts, which could be relatively hard to play if you are using the slide for the first time. But, thanks to the easy progression and riff, it is a great song to get familiar with slide guitar.
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked Guitar Tabs
Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones
Released in 1981, Start Me Up is one of the greatest singles of the late-era The Rolling Stones. The tune features a great rock guitar riff taking us back to the 70’s classic rock sounds. As the open G tuning is Keith Richards’ favorite tuning, the song was composed by him with a great mastery of the tuning.
The song uses many different chord shapes in the open G tuning and features a relatively easy guitar solo. The riffs and the chords are played in the open G tuning while the solo is played in the standard tuning.
Crossroad Blues – Robert Johnson
The great blues musician Robert Johnson is one of the leading guitarists who used open G tuning in his compositions. His iconic 1936 song Crossroad Blues is one of the great examples of his use of the open G tuning with an acoustic slide guitar and Delta Blues licks. The song got more famous after Eric Clapton covered it with his band Cream in the 1960s.
The blues tune features great blues guitar licks with double stops, slides, mutes, and single-finger barre chords. It is a relatively easy song to play if you have a bit of experience with playing lead guitar solo partitions.
If you want to learn more songs but in different tuning, check out my other article Top 50 Famous&Easy Guitar Songs In Drop C – Tabs Included
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – The Rolling Stones
The 1971 song, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking is another great tune that shows how Keith Richards creates wonders with the open G tuning. The song opens up with his amazing guitar riff and builds on top of the riff. The song was recorded in one take and the second half of the tune was a pure improvisational jam.
The song’s main guitar riff is pretty elementary with power chords, but the lengthy guitar solos make it a bit challenging to learn.
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking Guitar Tabs
Bad To The Bone – George Thorogood and The Destroyers
Bad To The Bone is a highly famous song released in the 1980s by George Thorogood and The Destroyers. The song was built on top of one of the greatest blues riffs in history, which is the Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. Although the song did not chart in any lists, it became highly popular and was featured in countless movies, games, and events.
It is highly possible that you know the song really well even though you have never learned the name of it. The song features a highly easy slide guitar-style riff with triad chords. The solo is again a slide guitar solo, mainly with chords and embellishments.
Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits
Released in 1981 and composed by the frontman Mark Knopfler, Romeo And Juliet are one of the greatest tracks of the famous British rock band Dire Straits. The song is remembered with its smooth and lovely guitar riff and amazing lyrics about two young lovers. It is one of the most iconic tunes of the band, which was also featured on many “best of” albums of Dire Straits.
The song is played with a complex finger-picking pattern in the open G tuning. As Mark Knopfler is well-known for his finger-picking style playing, it is an advanced level song to play for guitarists.
If you want to check another open tuning, check out my other list Top 40 Famous Guitar Songs In Open E Tuning – Tabs Included
She – Green Day
One of the best songs of the American punk-rock band Green Day is She from their 1995 album, Dookie. The short song is remembered with its poetic lyrics as well as its great melody. Another interesting fact is that Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the lyrics for his ex-girlfriend, and he performed the song nude in one of Green Day concerts.
It is an easy song to play with only 3 chords; G, D, and C. The G chord is played with open strings, while the C chord has a single finger barre shape. The D chord requires all of the 4 fingers on the fretboard but is not hard to play. It is one of the easiest songs on the list to get familiar with the open G tuning chord shapes.
Watch Over You – Alter Bridge
American hard rock band Alter Bridge is one of the famous bands that use the open G tuning regularly. Their hit tune Watch Over You from the 2008 Blackbird album is only one of them, which is remembered for the outstanding vocal performance of the vocalist Myles Kennedy.
The tune has a pretty easy rhythm guitar progression for newbie guitarists as the lead guitar sections can be described as intermediate level. The rhythm sections are played with an acoustic guitar, while the lead guitar is an electric guitar.
Sedona – Houndmouth
The indie-rock hit of the American alternative blues band Houndmouth from their second album Little Neon Light is the band’s most successful song so far. It was certified as gold in the U.S.A. and platinum in Canada.
The indie-rock tune is played with 3 chords and an elementary opening guitar riff. The strum pattern consists of triplets with downstrokes on the first and upstrokes on the third beats.
For more songs in a different tuning, check out my article Top 40 Famous Guitar Songs In E Flat (Eb) Tuning – Tabs Included
Going To California – Led Zeppelin
The hard rock giants, Led Zeppelin, use the open G tuning often, especially for their songs with the folk-style spice. The mellow tune Going To California is one of the most famous examples of it. The iconic acoustic guitar arpeggios of Jimmy Page and mandolin accompaniment of John Paul John combined with the amazing vocals of Robert Plant make this song one of the greatest Zeppelin songs ever.
The guitar parts of the song offer amazing finger-picked arpeggios partitions. But, the song is not meant for entry-level guitarists as the pattern and the techniques used are quite advanced.
Going To California Guitar Tabs
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Another The Rolling Stones tune in the open G is the famous song. You Can’t Always Get What You Want from the year 1969. The song is another product of Jagger- Richards collaboration and is considered one of the greatest songs of rock history.
You can play the song with 5 chords and a capo on the 5th fret. The chords have easy finger positions thanks to the open G tuning. Either you can tune the low E string to D, or you can also skip hitting it while strumming like Keith Richards’ playing style.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want Guitar Tabs
Fearless – Pink Floyd
It may be surprising to learn that the mythical Pink Floyd also has a song composed in the open G tuning. Their mellow song with a great acoustic sound, Fearless from the 1971 Meddle album, is the only song composed with an open G tuned guitar. Even though the song is not as popular as other Pink Floyd tunes from later albums, it is one of the best songs of the band, according to the band themselves and many fans.
The song is played with 5 chords in ascending order and is fun to play strum pattern. Between the chords, there are muted strums which adds a percussive approach and sound quite nice. For this tune, you will have to tune the lowest string to the G note.
If you want to learn more but in differnet tuning, do not forget to check out my other list Top 50 Famous&Easy Guitar Songs In Drop D – Tabs Included
Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones
Coming back to The Rolling Stones once again, Tumblin Dice from the 1972 Exile On Mains St. album is yet another great open G tune to learn. The song has a blues, boogie-woogie rhythm with an unusual tempo and groove, making it a unique song among other Stones tunes.
Even though the riffs and chords are not that complex, the rhythm and the techniques that are used in the embellishments can be hard on beginner players. Yet, it is an amazing open G song to learn and play with its unique groove.
Daughter – Pearl Jam
The 1993 song, Daughter, is one of the signature tunes of the American rock band Pearl Jam. It topped the U.S. Album Rock and Modern Rock Billboard charts and spent 8 weeks staying in the summit. It is a great song with amazing lyrics and vocals by Eddie Vedder, along with great guitar riffs of Stone Gossard.
The song features quite basic chords which require only 2 fingers. Just like with the Fearless of Pink Floyd, you will have to tune the lowest string to G note to play the tune.
Honky Tonk Women – The Rolling Stones
Released in 1969, Honky Tonk Women is considered one of the greatest The Rolling Stones tunes of all time. The song was selected to the Grammy Hall Of Fame and topped the charts in the U.S.A. and the U.K. The song is another fruit from the Jagger-Richards partnership.
The song features an easy-to-play riff with double stops and triad chords. There are also some slides and legatos in between to keep things interesting.
Nextdoor Neighbor Blues – Gary Clark Jr
Released in 2012, Nextdoor Neighbor Blues is one of the most-known tunes of the guitarist Gary Clark Jr. which was released with his Blak and Blu album. The song offers great bluesy guitar parts for blues lovers.
The main riff repeated throughout the tune is quite easy with nice arpeggios and single-finger barre chords. The solo partition is not that easy, but it is not necessary to play the tune.
Nextdoor Neighbor Blues Guitar Tabs
If you want to play more songs in a different tuning, check out my other article Top 40 Famous & Easy Guitar Songs In D Standard – Tabs Included
Twice As Hard – The Black Crowes
American southern rock band, The Black Crowes, is one of the bands that love the open G tuning and compose many of their tunes with open G tuned guitars. Twice As Hard is only one of them, which was released in 1991. The song received quite good success and was used in the movies Mad Dog and Glory and Ladder 49.
It is a beginner-friendly tune with easy rocky riffs and single-finger barre chords. There is also an intermediate-level solo which beginners can also try to play, practicing the parts slowly.
Wonderful Life – Alter Bridge
Wonderful Life is a beautiful Alter Bridge tune released in 2010 about mourning death and celebrating life. Myles Kennedy, the vocalist and the frontman of the group, wrote the lyrics for a friend of his who passed away.
The song starts with nice arpeggios before leaving the scene to different chord shapes in the open G tuning. As there are many different sections and chords, this tune may be more suitable for experienced players rather than absolute beginners.
Hard To Handle – The Black Crowes
The breakout single of The Black Crowes was Hard To Handle in 1991, which was actually a cover of the tune by American soul singer Otis Redding. The Black Crowes version was an international hit, topping the charts and giving the band big fame. The band covered the soul song into a blues-rock tune which sounded quite great with solid guitar riffs.
The song has many sections with double-stops, triad chords, barre chords as well as single-note melodic partitions. It is a long song to learn, which is the only challenge to master. But, it offers a great orientation to the open G tuning blues-rock style.
High Speed – Coldplay
High Speed is a lesser-known song by Coldplay from their debut studio album, Parachutes. The song was released back in 2000 and remained as a hidden gem in the album, not receiving attention as much as the other tracks.
However, it is a great song with an open G tuning. There are many advanced chord shapes along with basic riffs in the song.
If you are looking for some more indie pieces to learn, this list might just be for you Top 50 Famous&Easy Indie Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Sophia – Laura Marling
The British folk singer and songwriter Laura Marling’s tune Sophia from the A Creature I Don’t Know album released in 2011 is a great song which was the first single and the most successful song of the album.
The song is played with a folky riff with double notes, triad chords, and some embellishments in between. It is a great song to learn and master if you like folky guitar riffs.
I Sing Praises To Your Name – Terry MacAlmon
I Sing Praises To Your Name is the most famous song of the American Christian singer Terry MacAlmon, released in 2000. The song is quite popular among churches and is still being played and sung today.
There are 9 chords in the song, which are played in the open G tuning. It is a relatively easy song to play but getting used to the chord shapes, and transitions can be challenging.
I Sing Praises To Your Name Guitar Chords
A Day In The Life – Jeff Beck
A Day In The Life is actually a great The Beatles song from 1967, which is considered one of their best works. Jeff Beck covered it in 1998, and the cover was used in the movie Across The Universe, which is the movie built on a made-up story based on the lyrics of The Beatles songs. The song also won a Grammy when it was added to the Jeff Beck album in 2008.
This one is an instrumental song with a slow tempo but a lot of feel and great licks. You need to play the bends, licks, and all the techniques properly to make the tune sound good. That is why this one is more suitable for advanced players.
If you want to learn some more easy electric and acoustic guitar tunes, do not forget to check my list Top 50 Popular & Easy Songs In 4/4 Time – Guitar Tabs Included
Little Red Rooster – Howlin’ Wolf
Little Red Rooster is a blues standard that is thought to be composed by Willie Dixon. It was first recorded and released by the Howlin’ Wolf in 1961 with a Chicago Blues style.
This one is a slide guitar tune that offers great blues licks with the slide guitar. It is played with a capo on the 2nd fret.
Little Red Rooster Guitar Tabs
Gracious – Ben Howard
The British indie-folk singer and songwriter Ben Howard’s song Gracious was released in 2011 in his Every Kingdom album. It is a great tune with nice arpeggios in the open G tuning.
You can play the song with basic arpeggios and plucking some easy chords in the open G tuning.
There are some amazing songs to learn from the 1980’S rock scene, if you want to check them out, you can click on the link Top 30 Guitar Rock Songs Of The 1980s You Must Learn To Play
Running On Faith – Eric Clapton
Written by Jerry Lynn Williams in 1986, Running On Faith is a great rock song that first appeared in Eric Clapton’s 1989 album Journeyman. His slide guitar work with the open G tuned guitar is one of the greatest performances of Clapton, which is the reason the song also appears in his Best Of album.
Eric Clapton’s embellishments and solos as the lead guitar in the song are quite amazing but need experienced hands to play them properly.
Shallows (Acoustic) – Daughter
Shallows is another great tune in the open G tuning written and performed by the band Daughter. The 2013 indie song’S acoustic version is more appreciated and offers better parts for the open G songs list. It is played with double note chords and nice embellishments in between.
Elephants – Them Crooked Vultures
The 2009 hard rock tune, Elephants by the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures which has stars like John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme in their lineup, is another great tune in the open G tuning. There are some great rock riffs in high tempo in tune, which are quite fun to play with a good amount of distortion.
Little Green – John Mitchell
Little Green is the folk-rock song from 1971 by John Mitchell. It is a lovely tune written by Mitchell for his daughter. The song has amazing arpeggios to play, but they are not for entry-level players.
Death Letter – The White Stripes
Released in 1965, Death Letter or Death Letter Blues is the signature song w of the Delta blues musician Son House. The song was covered by tons of bands and artists, including, The White Stripes. It is a great song to play some nice blues in the open G tuning.
The tune is played with single-finger barre chords and some nice bluesy licks in between. Try to play the bends carefully to the right pitch as they are the spirits of the tune.
Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp – Led Zeppelin
The mythical rock band, Led Zeppelin’s Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp from the Led Zeppelin III album in 1970, is another great folk-rock, country blues tune in the open G tuning. Bron-Yr-Aur is the name of the house the band was staying together in Wales where they composed many songs for the album.
Jimmy Page’s great work on acoustic guitar is apparent on every riff and lick on this song. There are many different guitar parts with chords, arpeggios as well as amazing licks to play. The folky rocky and country-style acoustic guitar work is simply a joy to play for advanced guitarists.
That’s The Way – Led Zeppelin
Another Led Zeppelin tune in the open G tuning is That’s The Way from the Led Zeppelin III album. Again it is an acoustic tune with the spices of folk and country implemented into the bluesy rock. It is one of the most beautiful ballads of the band.
There are 5 riffs in the song, which are all played with chords and basic strum patterns. The chords all have basic shapes, and the song is quite easy to play. It is a great song to learn and sing along with.
Hello, I’m In Delaware – City, And Colour
Hello, I’m In Delaware is a great alternative rock tune by the band City And Colour from their album Sometimes from the year 2005. It is a lovely song with nice guitar riffs for players who like alternative and indie tunes.
The song is played with chords and nice guitar licks in between the chords. There are nice slides, pull-offs, and hammer-ons in the licks, which are highly fun to play and sound great.
Hello, I’m In Delaware Guitar Tabs
Troubles Will Be Gone – Tallest Man on Earth
Released in 2010 with The Wild Hunt album, Trouble Will Be Gone, a lovely song by the alternative band Tallest Man On Earth. The song combines lovely acoustic guitar work with nice lyrics.
The song is played with fast-picked arpeggios, which have some complex tricks and techniques inside them. It is not the hardest tune to play, but you should have some good skills of finger-picking on acoustic guitar to play the tune. Also, you will need a capo on the 7th fret to play the song like the recording.
Troubles Will Be Gone Guitar Tabs
Walkin’ Blues – Eric Clapton
Walkin’ Blues is a great unplugged blues tune from Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album from 1992. The album features iconic tunes like Tears In Heaven and an acoustic version of Layla, which are the reason it won the Grammy award the same year. Walkin’ Blues is the great blues song in the open G by Robert Johnson, but Clapton’s unplugged cover is at least as good as the original.
No doubt that this is an advanced-level song with many amazing acoustic guitar techniques, complex blues licks, and odd rhythmic approaches. It is an amazing-sounding tune to learn and master, but you should have some mastery of the instrument to play it properly.
Black Door – The Black Keys
Released in 2006 along with the Magic Potion album, Black Door is one of the lesser-known tunes of the American rock duo The Black Keys. The song was recorded in the basement of the drummer Patrick Carney with a low-cost equipment set that costs around 5000$. The recording quality may not be the best, but the songs are quite amazing.
This one is a quite easy song to play which is played with power chords and some easy melodic lines. The main riff has a part with the slide, but you can skip it if you want. It sounds quite good with or without it.
Acorn Factory – The Dodos
Acorn Factory is the alternative, indie rock tune of the band The Dodos from their 2009 album Time To Die. The indie-folk tune is the last song of the album and is remembered with its melancholy lyrics and folky guitar riffs.
It is an advanced-level tune to play with fast-picked arpeggios and some legatos in between. It is a great example of folk-style guitar playing, yet you need some great skills to play this one.
Secret Plans – The Eagles Of Death Metal
One of the rare examples of open G tuning in death metal scenes is Secret Plans by The Eagles Of Death Metal. The song has a very heavy tone with an open G tuning and the lowest string tuned to the G note. It is an easy and fun song to play with single-finger barre chords, slides, and a high amount of distortion.
Open G is one of the most fun-to-play alternative tunings that is often used in blues, rock, and folk tunes. It allows for G major chord to be strummed without any fretting. It allows eleven other major chords to be strummed with single finger barring, which makes it quite easy to play blues and folk tunes as well as slide and bottleneck guitar.
To be a fully proficient guitarist, you have to experiment and learn what the alternative tunings bring to the instrument. The open G tuning is one of the most important of them, which you should get familiar with. The best way is to play some tunes composed in the open G tuning.
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