DADGAD tuning is an alternative guitar tuning that deviates from the standard EADGBE tuning to DADGAD, from the lowest string to the highest. This tuning lowers the pitch of the sixth, second, and first strings by a whole step (two frets) from standard tuning, resulting in an open Dsus4 chord when the guitar is strummed open, without fretting any notes.

Here’s a breakdown of its characteristics and benefits:

1. Open Tuning:

  • DADGAD is considered an open tuning because strumming the open strings produces a chord. This particular tuning gives an open Dsus4 chord, which can add a drone-like quality to the music. This droning effect is characteristic of many traditional and folk music styles, making DADGAD popular among folk, Celtic, and fingerstyle guitarists.

2. Simplified Chord Shapes:

  • Many chord shapes become simpler in DADGAD tuning, allowing for easy transitions and unique voicings. This can be particularly beneficial for fingerstyle playing, where the guitarist may want to incorporate complex melodies and bass lines simultaneously.

3. Creative and Sonic Exploration:

  • The altered string relationships in DADGAD invite creative exploration, leading to innovative chord progressions, melodies, and textures that might not be as intuitive in standard tuning. It’s especially conducive to modal playing, where the guitarist can explore different musical modes easily by moving familiar shapes up and down the fretboard.

4. Enhanced Harmonics:

  • DADGAD tuning can produce rich and resonant harmonics, partly due to the sympathetic vibration of open strings that are in tune with fretted notes. This can add a lush, ambient quality to the music, which is especially appealing in solo acoustic performances.

How to Tune to DADGAD:

  1. Start in Standard Tuning (EADGBE).
  2. Lower the Sixth String: Lower the pitch of the sixth string from E down to D.
  3. Lower the Second String: Adjust the pitch of the second string from B down to A.
  4. Lower the First String: Tune the first string down from E to D.
  5. Fine-tune: Ensure all strings are accurately tuned to DADGAD. An electronic tuner is very helpful for achieving precise tuning.


DADGAD tuning has been widely used in a variety of musical genres beyond its folk roots, including rock, blues, and even classical music. Its versatility and the distinct sonic landscapes it offers make it a favorite among many guitarists looking to expand their musical palette.

The tuning’s popularity is partly due to its ability to blend simplicity and complexity, making it accessible to beginners while still offering depth and creative possibilities for advanced players. Whether used for rhythm playing, intricate fingerstyle arrangements, or solo compositions, DADGAD tuning provides a rich foundation for musical exploration.

Here is one of my originals I did in DADGAD:

Kashmir by Led Zepplin was also done in DADGAD tuning:

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