Tuning your guitar to alternate tuning setups can open new doors for any guitar player. Changing the usual relations and sounds between strings might give you another perspective on your instrument.
We guitar players sometimes can be stuck in a loop regarding creativity and playability. No matter how often you exercise, you might get the same feeling. Changing the tuning setup, we used to can be a trigger for your creativity and make you write new and unique tunes in a short time.
DADGAD, also known as Celtic Tuning, is another famous alternate setup guitar players like to experiment with. Celtic Tuning was used by many musicians, especially in the 60s folk era, and you can find it in unusual genres or less-known singer-songwriters’ music.
Celtic Tuning has a distinctive and magical sound. You get to notice it by practicing and listening to the songs composed in DADGAD. If you haven’t tried this setup yet, please take the chance to meet with the inspiring world of it.
It is great to experiment with a new tuning setup by yourself and get to know it by improvising. However, it is also important to study and know the milestones of a particular tuning setup and the famous tunes and guitarists who used it.
So, here are popular tunes in Celtic Tuning listed for you! You can find the tab links below every song and learn how to play every song.
Dear Maria Count Me In – All Time Low
Our first song is from an emo-pop band from the 2000s. The band released this track in 2008, and their album So Wrong, It’s Right featured it. You might remember this one from MTV cause it was frequently on air back then.
This tune includes palm mute strumming techniques and simple chords you can play in DADGAD Tuning. Add more gain and distortion to your electric guitar and learn this famous track.
Outlaw State of Mind – Chris Stapleton
This guy is an amazing southern rock and country soul singer-songwriter. He is like the new star of this genre. He has a beautiful album that came out in 2015 called Traveller. You can find this tune on that album.
Stapleton uses DADGAD Tuning in many tunes and plays brilliantly on this setup. There is an intro part that you have to practice first. Then go into the verse section and chorus part. The riffs just require a big heart to play and sound like that.
Ain’t No Grave – Johnny Cash
This track is a cover version of an old gospel song related to Claude Ely. Cash recorded a newer version of the legendary song, and Rick Rubin produced it. You can find it on his album American VI: Ain’t No Grave.
By using the DADGAD setup, you can play very simple stuff and sound amazing at the same time. This track is a good example of that. Cash plays only simple arpeggios with mostly open strings and a couple of easy slide riffs to make this beautiful tune happen.
If you want to learn more songs in a different tuning, check out my other article Top 40 Famous Guitar Songs In Open D Tuning – Tabs Included
Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars
This indie folk rock, bluegrass tune was released in 2011. It appeared on the self-titled album by Barton Hollow. It is a brilliant song and even received an award in the Grammy’s the next year.
Take your acoustic guitar and give this tune a go! It was beautifully composed with a couple of bluegrass riffs and simple chord progressions. There are few details in positioning the fingers while playing the riffs. So, follow the tabs carefully.
Call It Dreaming – Iron & Wine
Here is an acoustic version of one of the greatest songs of Samuel Ervin Beam, a.k.a. Iron & Wine. His beautiful album Beast Epic has featured this tune since 2017. It peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Chart US Top Alternative Albums the same year.
You can play this song with a capo on the 4th fret. The chord progression is very inspiring. It has many hammer-ons and a couple of slides here and there. It will sound great if you pay attention to the details.
Circle – Slipknot
Another Rick Rubin-produced album, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, features this same track. It was released in 2004 by Roadrunner Records. It received many awards and a platinum certificate in years.
This tune is one of the rare acoustic tracks of the metal band. It is played with a capo on the second fret and follows a classic DADGAD rhythm. An electric guitar also plays simple licks and solos, backing up throughout the song.
Here is another list of songs in an alternate tuning Top 40 Famous Guitar Songs In Open E Tuning – Tabs Included
Wasteland Baby – Hozier
This guy knows how to write new songs with alternate tuning setups for sure! Check this soul blues track from his same-titled 2019 album. The album has many great songs to listen to and learn to play on the guitar.
This tune has a beautiful composition! It includes fingerstyle arpeggios combined with inspiring melodies. Hozier plays it with an acoustic guitar, but it can also sound great with an electric guitar and a good reverb. Have fun with it!
Treetop Flyer – Stephen Stills
Here is an amazing folk rock song from the early 90s. His album Stills Alone featured it. You might know him from his works with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, or Buffalo Springfield. He is an amazing guitarist to listen to and study.
This tune is an acoustic song by nature. As the name of the album, these are the songs that Stills performs alone. After seeing him perform with big musicians and on stage, I thought it was a great piece to listen to. Click the link below to learn how to play the song.
Phunkdified – Justin King
This guy is the king of fingerstyle guitar playing. He has magnificent albums and performances and uses alternate setups like DADGAD. This tune was released in 2001 with his album Le Bleu.
Phunkdified is an advanced song to play. And it has various fingerstyle techniques you have to study well. He uses his right hand also as a percussive beatmaker and combines palm mute rhythms with amazing melodies. Listen carefully to the tune and watch how he plays before you try to nail it.
Knock On Wood – Justin King
You can find this tune also on his 2001 album Le Bleu. King’s music combines various elements such as jazz, flamenco, Celtic, and African music. This song is a good example of his colorful music.
This track includes various tapping techniques and beautiful slides and harmonics. You can see the tune divided into a couple of sections and practice them separately first. Then bring them together according to the original traffic of the song.
In Dreams – Ben Howard
Here is another legendary fingerstyle player for you. He has many songs in DADGAD that you can listen to and practice. He has been performing and releasing music since 2008. This tune was released in 2014.
This tune is for intermediate players. It includes various arpeggio riffs throughout the song. It is not hard to play. The tricky thing is to play the melodies right. He combines them with his beautiful vocal melodies and lyrics.
Dueling Ninjas – Trace Bundy
This guy is also an amazing guitar player. His music is considered to be contemporary modern folk or instrumental rock. He has a unique style for sure. This record was released in 2004 with his album Adapt.
Bundy uses a lot of hammer-on, pull-off techniques and brilliantly composes in DADGAD tuning. He barely touches the strings with his right hand to strum or arpeggiate. He plays this tune with a capo on the 4th fret.
Norwegian Wood – Colin Hay
This Scottish-Australian guitar player is another important musician to check out. He mostly plays rock, new wave, and country kind of music. This song is an original Beatles tune from the band’s 1965 album Rubber Soul. And Hay made a cover version of the song in 2011.
The chord progressions for this tune are very easy to follow. Hay combines the chords with little riffs and melodies in between according to the original tune, adds harmonics, and uses a pick on this one.
Rant And Roar – Great Big Sea
This Canadian band is making Celtic folk music. It is a band that has a long history. The band released this track in 1998, and you can find it on the band’s same-titled album.
The song is written in the key of F and requires a capo on the 3rd fret while tuned in DADGAD. The acoustic guitar mainly plays a simple chord progression for the whole song and creates space for other instruments and vocals.
The Only Boy Awake – Meadows
Another known as Christoffer Wadensten, this musician is from Sweden. He published this tune in 2016, appearing on his album The Only Boy Awake. You can also find this track on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
Have a capo on the 3rd fret to play this one. It has only 5 basic chords to play with, finger-picking arpeggios. This progression in DADGAD is the main ground of the song, the other instruments, and the vocals following it.
You Missed My Heart – Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe has many songs in alternate tunings, and this one is a cover version of a 2013 song by Mark Kozelek and Jimmy Lavalle. Her version came out in 2017; you can find it on her album Stranger in the Alps.
The song was originally a downtempo, folktronica track, but she made it more folk and acoustic. There are 3 main arpeggio sections you have to learn. The whole song is based on this progression.
Waterbound – Dirk Powell
This guy is a traditional musician from Kentucky and has won 4 awards in Grammys. He plays the banjo mostly and is known for playing for Joan Baez for 10 long years. This bluegrass track was released in 2004 and featured on his album Time Again.
The tab below is the tutorial for more of a guitar version of the song by Michael McGoldrick. He plays it with his beautiful acoustic guitar in Celtic Tuning. He follows a 5 chord progression throughout the song, and violins and back vocals accompany it.
Out Of The Woods – Nickel Creek
This band is a beautiful band from California, and they have been making music since 1989. Between 2007 and 2014, they weren’t active much. They still perform music. Their amazing album The Side won a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Folk Album segment in 2003.
The band released this tune in 2000, and it is considered a progressive bluegrass track. You can find it on Nickel Creek’s self-titled album. It has an amazing guitar composition, and the rhythm guitar plays a finger-picking arpeggio progression throughout the tune.
Winona – Drop Nineteens
This American band is based in Boston and has been making shoegaze, noise pop, and indie rock. They were very popular in the UK in the early 90s. You can find this track on their 1992 album Delaware.
The tune is played with a capo on the second fret and an electric guitar with a distinctive shoegaze sound. It consists of simple picking strumming patterns and complicated chord progressions. It is great to see DADGAD Tuning in different genres like shoegaze!
Now Westlin’ Winds – Dick Gaughan
This tune was originally a Robert Burns song, and he is a famous Scottish poet. Gaughan made another version of the Scottish folk tune in 1981. His album Handful of Earth featured it the same year. He has beautiful protest folk and Celtic songs; check them out if you haven’t.
He plays this tune written in F with a capo on the third fret and an acoustic guitar. Arpeggiated chord progressions and fingerstyle techniques are the core of the song’s composition. And what a beautiful voice he has!
Tell Her This – Del Amitri
Here is a Scottish folk rock, a roots rock band playing a beautiful song in DADGAD Tuning. They were active between 1980 and 2002; later, the band reunited in 2013 and started making music again. This song is the 5th track of their album Twisted from 1995.
They play this with a capo on the sixth fret. The guitar composition is fantastic and not that hard to play, either. It is the beauty of playing in alternative tunings: The chords with weird, scary names become very easy to play and sound great!
By The River – Stu Larsen
This guy is a singer-songwriter from Australia. He has fantastic acoustic songs to listen to and play. He released this track in 2017 with his album Resolute. It has a great music video.
The song has only 4 chords to play. Its chord progression is very easy and fun to play. The same chord progression goes for the whole song. There are a couple of slides and hammer-ons you have to pay attention to, that’s all.
Bless The Weather – John Martyn
This guy is a folk rock, folk jazz legend from the early 70s. You probably know one of his famous songs, Glory Box, from the popular band Portishead’s version. He released this song in 1971 with his album Bless the Weather.
Martyn plays this song with a capo on a live performance, but you can transpose it if you like. It depends on the singer and your taste. He uses thumb slaps to keep the tempo and give the guitar composition a percussive touch. You should follow the tabs carefully to play it well.
All Cried Out – Fink
This guy is an amazing musician and has very creative and emotional songs! The tune belongs originally to Alison Moyet, an English singer-songwriter. She released it in 1984, and Fink recorded a new version in 2005. You can find this version in his album Biscuits for Breakfast.
The song is based on a fingerstyle palm-muted guitar rhythm with a beautiful melody. The original song was more of a pop song, and Fink gave it more emotion and layer.
Merrily Kissed The Quaker – Pierre Bensusan
The song is a traditional old Irish folk tune from 1973. And here you see Bensusan, the French-Algerian guitarist playing it beautifully in Paris in 1975.
The tab below suggests playing it with a capo on the 6th fret, and the song has a 6/8 time signature to pay attention to. This song has advanced fingerstyle playing techniques. Carefully follow the tutorial and listen to the performance before you start learning.
Harris And The Mare – Stan Rogers
This guy is a folk musician from Canada who has been releasing and performing music since 1970 until he died in 1983. He released this tune with his band in 1979 with the album Between the Breaks… Live!
This tune is an acoustic song for intermediate players. It is played with a capo on the 3rd fret. There is the main chord progression goes throughout the song. Rogers plays it with his fingerpicking arpeggio style.
Micheline – Sun Kil Moon
Here is a beautiful indie folk tune for indie lovers out there! The band released this track in 2014. It can be found on their album Benji. They recorded the whole record at the Hyde Street Studios.
The song is a good choice for beginners to dig into DADGAD Tuning. The main composition is based on arpeggios of easy chords with basic finger positionings—the fingerings changing in different sections.
Abacus – Fionn Regan
Regan is an Irish folk singer-songwriter who has been active since 2000. He has a beautiful album, The End of History, which features this track. The record came out in 2006.
The song is a mellow acoustic tune that everyone can play. Have a capo on the 4th fret of your acoustic guitar—the song is based on a couple of chord progressions played in arpeggios. When comparing the verse and the chorus sections, there are only small changes between finger positionings.
Xavii – Russian Circles
This band is a fantastic post-metal, instrumental rock band. They formed in 2004 and still making beautiful music. Their 2008 album Station features this track and many amazing songs.
The band plays this in DADGAD Tuning. The intro part is very simple, and the rest is not hard at all. It has a rather different genre than the rest of the songs in this list. I think you’ll like it.
Your Love Is Enough – Jon Foreman
Here is another singer-songwriter from California, U.S. He has been active since 1996 and has a great style of playing and songwriting. This song appears on his same-titled 2008 album. Please check out the other songs on the record. They are very inspiring.
The regular version of the track is played with an acoustic guitar, and he plays harmonica on it. There are only six chords to play this one. The changes in the chords are going the same for every section beside the bridge part.
Salamander – Jethro Tull
This tune is from the band’s ninth studio album from 1976: Too Old to Rock‘ n’ Roll: Too Young To Die! The song is the third song of the album and is a great song in Celtic Tuning.
The song is played with a capo on the second fret. It is an intermediate song to play in a 3/4 time signature. It has a simple chord progression but a lot going on in terms of melodies and fillings.
Obligatory Folk Punk Song – Panucci’s Pizza
This one is from an amazing folk punk band. It was released in 2015 and appeared on the band’s album All The Toppings. They have been releasing fantastic independent music in recent years.
The song requires a capo on the first fret. It has a simple but fast acoustic composition and punk vocals on top. The chords are mostly power chords stuff but transposed in DADGAD. Have fun!
Can’t Run Away – The Brave Little Abacus
This band is an interesting emo-revival, math rock band. They released this track in 2010, and their album Just Got Back From the Discomfort – We’re Alright features it. And it is self-released.
Have a capo on your 3rd fret before diving into play. There is an easy-to-play chord progression in the background. The lead guitar plays melodies with harmonics and beautiful licks. If you practice it part by part, you’ll be good.
Mellowing – All Them Witches
If you haven’t heard of this band yet, please check them out! They make great stoner rock and psychedelic doom music. Their 2015 album Dying Surfer Meets His Maker features this tune.
This tune is one of the band’s softest songs. It includes two guitars playing arpeggiated chord progressions in a doomy way. This track is a long song to practice for intermediate players, yet inspiring. It can be your very step towards being a better guitar player.
Below The Salt – Unwound
This band has been playing post-metal, doom compositions since the early 90s. This track was released in 2001 with their beautiful album Leaves Turn Inside You.
The song has many elements from genres like shoegaze, indie rock, post-rock, or art punk. The guitarist has an excellent electric guitar tone and plays simple but intriguing riffs and notes.
Various genres and artists from different generations use this alternate tuning to express themselves and be inspired to write new songs.
Hopefully, this list of amazing tunes in Celtic Tuning finds you well! There are great bands and musicians to be discovered, and DADGAD Tuning is used only by unique souls.
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