Spanish Tuning (open G or A)

Spanish tuning is a type of open tuning used on the guitar, commonly referred to as Open G tuning. It’s called “Spanish tuning” because of its association with traditional Spanish guitar music, although it’s widely used in various music genres, especially blues, folk, and rock. The term can sometimes cause confusion, as “Spanish tuning” might also be loosely used to refer to the standard tuning of classical and flamenco guitars, which is the same as the standard tuning for most guitars (E A D G B E). However, when specifically talking about open tunings, Spanish tuning typically refers to Open G.

In Spanish tuning (Open G), the guitar is tuned to a G major chord when strumming the open strings, hence the term “open tuning.” The specific notes from low to high are:

  • D (the sixth string is tuned down a whole step from E to D)
  • G (the fifth string remains unchanged)
  • D (the fourth string remains unchanged)
  • G (the third string remains unchanged)
  • B (the second string remains unchanged)
  • D (the first string is tuned down a whole step from E to D)

This tuning allows guitarists to play a G major chord without fretting any strings, hence the name “open” tuning. It also facilitates playing chord shapes and slide guitar, making it a popular choice for blues and slide guitarists. The tuning emphasizes the resonant and rich sound of the guitar, allowing for a wide range of expressive and dynamic playing.

Famous guitarists like Robert Johnson, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, and Ry Cooder have used Spanish tuning (Open G) to create some of their most iconic music. Keith Richards, in particular, is known for his extensive use of this tuning in creating the distinctive riffs that define many of The Rolling Stones’ biggest hits.

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