Alternate Tunings Guitar Tuner

B A# A G# G F# F E D# D C# C B A# A G# G F# F E D# D C# C

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A step by step guide if you’re not sure where to start:

  • 1.
    Click the ‘Play’ Button.
  • 2.
    If a box comes up asking to use your microphone, click ‘allow’. You should now see the dial on the tool moving in response to sounds.
  • 3.
    Now, while strumming your 6th (thickest) string, twist its tuning peg slowly until the blue arrow is perfectly aligned with the blue line directly above your desired note. (If the pitch of the note is too low you will want to tighten the string, if the note is too high you should loosen the string).
  • 4.
    Repeat this process for each of your six guitar strings until they're all in tune.
  • 5.
    Now you should be ready to play in your new tuning!

Trouble-Shooting Guide:
If the microphone has been allowed but the arrow still isn’t moving,
see below for possible solutions:

  • Check your microphone to make sure it is working properly. You can use the test on our home page and find out more information about microphone troubleshooting here.
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  • Some microphones have an “ON” / “OFF” mode. Make sure your microphone is set to “ON”.
  • Check to make sure that your microphone is not muted. For help with different operating systems and microphone problems, check out our "TECHNICAL GUIDES" section on the left-side menu.
Feeling tired of the familiar 'Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie' line up?

Here are some of our favorite alternate tunings for you to have a crack at:

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How does this guitar tuner work?

Your microphone detects the guitar string sound, and then converts that sound into an electrical signal. That signal is then interpreted by our tool and the frequency of that sound is deciphered and displayed along with the corresponding musical note. As mentioned previously, everything that happens is occurring in your computer, meaning no information is being sent over to our servers.

Why use alternate guitar tunings?

If you’ve ever picked up a guitar, chances are it will have been tuned to standard tuning (E2A2D3G3B3E4). This is by far the most popular guitar tuning, and it's a great one to learn when you’re starting out. However, standard tuning is just the tip of the iceberg of what your guitar can do, so it would be a pity to stop there!

While the idea of learning new chord shapes can be daunting, getting out of you comfort zone and learning to play using an alternate tuning can be an amazing springboard for your imagination, opening up new sounds, techniques, and styles of playing you maybe hadn’t come across before. This is especially useful if you're interested in writing your own songs and creating your own distinctive sound.

Alternate tunings can also make certain riffs, chords and styles a lot easier to play. So, if you’ve ever wanted to throw your guitar across the room after failing to stretch to a particularly awkward chord in standard tuning (Bsus I’m looking at you…), maybe it’s time to try out an alternate tuning instead.

How do I know which note corresponds to which string?

All our guitar tunings are laid out from the lowest string (6th string) to the highest string (1st string). On your guitar your lowest string is the thickest string and your highest is your thinnest string.

Why are the notes numbered?

Usually we talk about musical notes as simply ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ etc, regardless of how high or low they are. However, the pitch of a note also depends on the octave it’s played in.

In Western music, each particular pitch has a specific name, based on a scale of 12 notes. This name is made up of 2 factors: the name of the note, and the name of the octave it appears in. A good example of this would be the notes ‘E2’ and ‘E4’, the lowest and highest strings on your guitar when it’s in standard tuning. While both are ‘E’ notes, they are 2 octaves apart, the lower appearing in octave 2 and the higher in octave 4. We therefore use this system of numbering so you can achieve an accurate result when you tune your guitar.

How do I get my guitar back into standard from an alternate tuning?

If you’ve had a go at alternate tunings but you’d like to switch back into standard, don't fret! Simply use our guitar tuner for standard tuning to tune your strings back.

Drop Tunings

Drop D: D2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4

Drop D is probably the easiest alternate tuning to learn, it sounds great and the best part is, if you’re coming from standard tuning, you only need to change the pitch of one string! All you need to do to achieve this tuning is to tune your Low E string down a step to D.

This is a super versatile tuning that you can hear in a whole host of music genres, everything from Nirvana’s grungy “Heart Shaped Box” to Neil Young’s mellow “Harvest Moon”, Fall out Boy’s angsty “Sugar We’re Going Down” to Fleetwood Mac’s fingerpicking classic “Never Going Back Again”.
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Double Drop D: D2 A2 D3 G3 B3 D4

If you’ve already got your guitar in Drop D, this tuning is very easy to get to, simply tune your high E string down to a D and, voila, you are now in Double Drop D! This tuning can be found in may classic rock songs of the 60s and 70s, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”.

Possibly due to the lower range of this tuning, it often pops up in songs with heavier themes, such as the likes of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” and “Ohio”, The Doors’ moody “The End” and Bruce Springsteen’s anti-war song “Devils and Dust”. You can also find it used in the song "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" featured in the Coen Brothers' movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?".
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Drop C: C2 G2 C3 F3 A3 D4

This tuning is great for exploring an intense sound as it creates a wide range of lower register notes. For this reason its used mostly in heavy metal and rock to create powerful, resonant chords. When playing your guitar in Drop C you may find your strings start buzzing, this is because the strings will be much looser than in higher pitched tunings such as standard. A way to fix the buzzing is to buy specially made thicker stings, you can find these online or in your local music shop.

Some cool songs to try out in Drop C would be “Heart Burst into Fire” but Welsh heavy metal band Bullet for my Valentine, “My Curse” by Killswitch Engage or, our personal favorite, “Chop Suey!” by System of a Down.
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Open Tunings

While some alternate tunings could be a bit overwhelming for a beginner, open tunings are relatively easy to master, and the best thing is, the way they are set up, you can get a great chord without even having to fret any chords!

Open D: D2 A2 D3 F#3 A3 D4

Open D is perfect for, unsurprisingly, creating a powerful and rounded D sound. This tuning really suits a slide/bottleneck guitar style of playing, as well as those who prefer fingerpicking or clawhammer style.

Joni Mitchell, possibly the queen of alternate tunings, has used Open D many times, most famously in her early songs “Both Sides Now” and “Chelsea Morning”. Joni came to alternative tunings out of necessity, after suffering through polio as a child she was unable to stretch her hand to the chord shapes in standard tuning, so instead made up her own tunings instead. Check out this video to learn more about her pioneering use of alternate tunings.

Some other cool songs to try in Open D could be Ry Cooder’s hauntingly beautiful soundtrack to “Paris Texas” or 90s classics such as “Loser” by Beck and “Over Now” by Alice in Chains. Alt Rock band Wilco also used this tuning to great effect in their song “Kamera” from their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
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Open E: E2 B2 E3 G#3 B3 E4

Open E is relatively easy to switch to from standard tuning as you only need to change the pitch of 3 of your guitar strings. It’s a favorite with many folk and rock artists, popping up in songs by Bon Iver, U2 and The Smiths. Aretha Franklin also opted to have Open E tuning accompany her vocals on her version of “The Weight”, have a listen to it to hear a great example of some of the bluesy slides and licks you can create using this tuning.

Bob Dylan’s love for Open E went one step further, he wrote all 10 songs on his iconic album Blood on the Tracks using this tuning. So if you’re looking to get that chord progression in “Simple Twist of Fate” just right, this is the tuning you want to be in.
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Open G: D2 G2 D3 G3 B3 D4

Open G tuning has its roots in the Blues. As with all open tunings, Open G allows you to play a chord (in this case G major) without having to touch any frets. Some classic blues songs that use this tuning include Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues”, “Little Red Rooster” by Howlin’ Wolf and “Walkin’ Blues” by Muddy Waters. It’s a great tuning to have in your repertoire, and also makes switching over to other instruments such as the banjo, dobro or Russian Guitar super easy.

Keith Richards was first introduced to Open G tuning by fellow guitar legend Ry Cooder, and used it to write some of the Rolling Stones’ most famous hits, including “Brown Sugar” and “Honky Tonk Women” . Check out this video to learn more about Keith’s love of alternate tunings.

More recently this tuning has been used by British folk musician Laura Marling in many of her songs, including “Salinas” and “Sophia”. Here’s an interesting video in which she talks about her use of this tuning, and how to avoid snapping your strings when switching to it!
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Open C: C2 G2 C3 G3 C4 E4

Open C creates a rich C Major sound, its a good tuning to have a go at if you want to try a lower register. The first and third strings stay the same as in standard tuning, so you only need to change the pitch of 4 strings to get to this one.

Bon Iver preforms “Skinny Love” in this tuning, it's also used in “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons. Dougie Maclean’s traditional Scottish folk song “Caledonia” is in this tuning, as well as Phoebe Bridgers' “Moon Song” (with a capo on the first fret).
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Open F# or Black Key Tuning:
F#3 A#3 C#4 F#4 A#4 F#5

Open F# is a must if you want to create a some groovy chords! It's most associated with funk and soul legend Curtis Mayfield, who championed its use in his influential songs such as “People Get Ready” as well as “Freddie's Dead” off his soundtrack to the 1972 film “Superfly”. This tuning is supposed to mirror the notes of the black keys on a piano, which apparently is all Mayfield stuck to when he was first learning to play music.
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Open D Minor: D2 A2 D3 F3 A3 D4

Sometimes called the saddest tuning of them all, Open D Minor is perfect if you're in a gloomy mood. This tuning is really easy to get to from Open D, simply tune your 4th string (F#) down to F.

This tuning is often attributed to Delta Blues figure Skip James who used it many times in his songs to create gorgeous and mournful melodies, such as “Illinois Blues”, “Devil Got My Woman” and “Cherry Ball Blues”.
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More Alternate Tunings

Eb Tuning: Eb2 Ab2 Db3 Gb3 Bb3 Eb4

Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix often used Eb Tuning, pitching each string half a semitone down, which contributed to his unmistakable sound. Hendrix preferred this tuning, partly because it suited his vocal range better. Also, as a leftie, he famously had to play his guitar upside down, so it’s thought that this tuning’s looser string tension put less strain on his hands, allowing him to create wider guitar riffs and cool vibratos. Some of his songs in Eb tuning that you could try out would be the iconic “Purple Haze” or his version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”.

Other songs that use this tuning include Guns and Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”, the Beatles’ “Across the Universe”, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, and “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.

This tuning is an easy one to try out as, even though all the notes have gone down a step, all the chord shapes from standard tuning remain the same.
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DADGAD or Celtic Tuning:
D2 A2 D3 G3 A3 D4

DADGAD tuning is mostly associated with folk music, and was used by many musicians in the folk revival of the 1960s and 70s. The chord shapes mean that you retain a number of open strings which act as drones throughout the playing, mimicking the sound of traditional Celtic pipe music, an essential one to know the next time you're asked to play at a ceilidh!

This tuning was popularised in the 1960s by British folk musician Davey Graham, who apparently was inspired to use it after hearing an oud on a trip to Morocco. It’s been used by many other folk, rock, and country inspired artists over the years such as John Martyn in his song “Over the Hill” and Johnny Cash in his song “Ain't No Grave”. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page used it in “Kashmir” to emphasise the song's mix of Celtic, Arabian and Indian influences.

If you are looking for a more beginner friendly version to try out this tuning, you could start with Ed Sheeran’s pretty ballad “Photograph”.
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Nick Drake's Tuning: C3 G3 C3 F3 C3 E3

Innovative folk guitarist Nick Drake used this tuning in many of his classic tunes such as “Pink Moon”, “Which Will” and “Hazy Jane I & II”. Another example of a guitarist using a tuning to create their own world of sound, the resonant C note creates a drone throughout these songs, adding to their distinctive, hypnotic feel.

More recently, The Tallest Man on Earth’s Kristian Matsson also used this for his songs “Burden of Tomorrow” and “Field of Birds”.
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Big Thief’s Tuning: D2 G2 D3 F#3 G3 D4

Big Thief’s Adrienne Lenker uses a bunch of beautiful alternate tunings in both her solo output and her songs as part of indie/folk band Big Thief. This is just one of the tunings she uses, you can find it in the song “Mythological Beauty" off the band’s 2017 album Capacity. Here’s a cool video of Adrienne talking about her love of alternate tunings and how they inspire her creative process.
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Sonic Youth’s Tuning: GABDEG

It’s pretty impossible to include all of Sonic Youth’s alternate tunings in one article, any fan will know that Thurston Moore's experimentation with sound is pretty limitless. Here we have gone for one of their more famous droney tunings, GABDEG, which pops up in their songs ‘Teenage Riot’ and ‘Hey Joni’. The latter of which funnily enough is a nod to Joni Mitchell, another pioneer of avant-garde tunings. Along with Mitchell, Moore cites his experimental tuning influences as stemming from his love of the Velvet Underground, Punk and ambient music, as well as a fascination with the use of drone notes in Asian spiritual music.
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Nashville Tuning: E3 A3 D4 G4 B3 E4

This tuning is useful as it helps you replicate the weight of a 12 string guitar with just 6 strings. As a result, in this tuning your highest note is now not your 6th E string but your 4th G string, producing a high chime-like quality to your chords. As many notes with the tuning go a full octave up, you will want to invest in some specially designed Nashville strings so your strings don’t snap!

Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” uses this tuning as well as the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and Pink Floyd’s “Hey You”. Taylor Swift has used this tuning in performances of several of her hits, including her breakout song “Love Story”.
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Coldplay’s Tuning: E2 A2 B3 G3 B3 D#4

This tuning was around long before Coldplay, but the band catapulted it into the mainstream with their song “Yellow”. In a recent interview the band's frontman Chris Martin talks about how he likes to play around with alternate tunings when writing songs as a way to loosen up and find his own sound, “so many of our songs, the portal in which they arrive is some failure I have done on the guitar … I often tune to a different tuning, so I don’t know what I’m doing… but I can make things weirdly me”.
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D Standard: D2 G2 C3 F3 A3 D4

D Standard is identical to standard E tuning, however all the notes are one whole step lower in pitch. It's a very easy one to try out if you’re coming from standard tuning, as all the chord shapes are the same. If you want to try out this tuning, you’ll be spoilt for choice, many Beatles songs use it, including “Yesterday” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, as well as David Bowie's “Heroes” and Metallica’s version of “Whiskey in the Jar”. Trailblazing songwriter Joan Armatrading experimented with this tuning for her 70s hit “Down to Zero” and “If We Were Vampires” by website favorite Jason Isbell is also played in D Standard.
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Ostrich Tuning: E2 E2 E3 E3 E4 E4

Probably the weirdest tuning on here but worth a mention! This one gets its name from the Lou Reed song “The Ostrich” which was played in this distinctive tuning. Its probably not that useful for many songs, but great if you really want to emphasise only one note!
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