Vestapol Tuning (open D or E)

Vestapol tuning, often referred to in the context of “Open D” tuning, is a type of open tuning used on the guitar. The term “Vestapol” historically refers to a family of open tunings that originated from a piece called “The Siege of Sevastopol” but has commonly come to be associated with open D and open E tunings. The naming convention comes from a misspelling or corruption of “Sevastopol.” Over time, “Vestapol” tuning became a generic term for certain open tunings.

Open D tuning specifically refers to tuning the guitar so that when you strum the open strings, they form a D major chord. The notes from the lowest string to the highest in Open D tuning are:

  • D (the sixth string is tuned down from E to D)
  • A (the fifth string remains unchanged)
  • D (the fourth string remains unchanged)
  • F# (the third string is tuned up from G to F#)
  • A (the second string is tuned down from B to A)
  • D (the first string is tuned down from E to D)

This tuning is popular among slide guitarists, fingerstyle players, and blues musicians because it allows for easy formation of major chords with a slide or by barring the fingers across the strings. It also provides a rich, resonant sound that’s very different from standard tuning, offering a new palette of harmonic possibilities and textures for guitarists to explore.

Open D tuning is used in various musical genres, from folk and blues to rock and beyond. It’s particularly favored for its deep, drone-like qualities and the ease with which it allows guitarists to play in the key of D major, providing a lush and full sound that’s ideal for both rhythm and solo playing.

 



Vestapol tuning is an open tuning that is commonly used in blues and rock. Open E and D are the most common but we are not limited to those 2 keys. The tuning is identified by the intervals between the strings. I will illustrate using the key of E.

Ex.1 Standard tuningchords

 

Ex. 2 The E chord in standard tuning.

 

Ex.3 Here we simply tune the guitar so the open strings sounds like the E chord. The distance (interval) between the strings are as follows: 6 string to 5 string is a 5th interval, 5 to 4 is a 4th, 4 to 3 is a 3rd, 3 to 2 is a ♭3 (minor 3rd), and 2 to 1 is a 4th.

 

While the key of E is the most popular, I prefer the key of D for 2 reasons. First, it is easier on your strings and guitar because you are tuning some strings lower, unlike E, where you tune strings higher causing more tension on the strings and neck.  Second, I just love that low sound. It sounds like the Louisiana swamp. The intervals are exactly the same. But, you are tuned a whole tone lower than E. You could tune higher or lower but, if you tune higher you risk breaking strings. If you tune lower you may experience tuning problems.

Ex. 4 The notes in open D tuning.

 

In the illustrations below we have the tools of the trade.

Ex.5 Major diatonic scale: also called the major scale or the Ionian mode. This is the father of all scales. All scales are measure by this one.

The intervals are 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.        

 

Ex.6 Pure minor diatonic scale also called the minor scale, the natural minor scale, or the Aeolian mode.

Intervals: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 

 

Ex.7 Minor pentatonic scale:  Some musicians mistakenly call this the blues scale.

Intervals: 1 ♭3 4 5 ♭7 

 

Ex.8 Minor blues scale. Some call this the blues scale but there is a major blues scale also. The minor blues scale is simply a minor pentatonic scale with the addition of the dim5 interval also known as the tritone or ♭5.

Intervals: 1 ♭3 4 ♭5 5 ♭7


Ex.9 Major pentatonic scale. penta is Greek for  5 and tonic means tone:  5 tone scale.

Intervals: 1 2 3 5 6

 

Ex.10 Dominant 7 scale also known as the Mixolydian mode.

Intervals: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ♭7

 

Ex.11 Major blues.

1 2 ♭3 3 5 6

 

Ex. 12 Major arpeggios.

Intervals: 1 3 5

 

Ex.13 Minor arpeggio.

1 ♭3 5

Ex.14 Dominant 7 arpeggio.

Intervals: 1 3 5 ♭7

 

 

 

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