February 9, 2024

Open E Tuning: How To Tune Your Guitar to Open E

The world of guitar playing extends far beyond merely learning a few chords and songs. One of the realms that it expands into is the art of alternate tunings. These tunings can be used to bring a fresh perspective to your playing, enabling you to explore new musical landscapes and unlock new melodies.

Among these tunings, a notable one that has been embraced by countless musicians is Open E tuning. This article will take a deep dive into Open E tuning: why you'd want to use it and how to successfully tune your guitar to it.

What Is Open E Tuning?

Open E tuning has a rich history in music. Its origins can be traced back to the early blues era, but it has since found its way into many different genres, from rock to folk to country. Artists like The Allman Brothers Band have used this tuning to create distinctive sounds in their music, owing their unique vibe to the Open E tuning.

In Open E tuning, the guitar is tuned to an E-B-E-G#-B-E arrangement from the lowest to the highest string, forming an E major chord. This means that when all the strings are strummed open, i.e., without fretting any notes, the guitar rings out a full E major chord, hence the name Open E.

Why Choose Open E Tuning?

Now, you might wonder why anyone would want to deviate from the standard tuning. The answer lies in the unique sonic characteristics and musical possibilities that Open E tuning offers. The open strings form a major chord, allowing you to play full, resonant chords with a single finger. This can greatly simplify the fingerings for many chord progressions, allowing you to focus more on your right-hand rhythm and slide work, if applicable.

Open E tuning is especially popular in blues and slide guitar playing because of its rich, full-bodied sound. The arrangement of the open strings also makes it easier to perform slide licks and riffs, making it a favorite among slide guitarists.

Beyond blues, Open E tuning is also commonly used in rock, country, and folk music. It lends itself well to droning strings and fingerpicking, allowing you to explore different textures and musical ideas that might not be as easily accessible in standard tuning.

In the end, choosing Open E tuning is all about the sound. It offers a different tonal palette that can inspire new ideas and add a unique flavor to your playing. Once you get the hang of it, you may find it opens up a whole new world of musical possibilities.

How To Prepare Your Guitar for Open E Tuning

Before you dive into tuning your guitar to Open E, it's crucial to ensure your guitar is ready for the transition. Changing to a different tuning involves adjusting the tension on your strings, which can affect your guitar's setup.

The first thing you should do is check your strings. Open E tuning requires a higher tension than standard tuning, especially on the lower strings. If your strings are old and worn, this might be a good time to change them, as old strings are more likely to break under increased tension.

You should be mindful of your guitar's neck. The change in string tension can put extra stress on your guitar neck, leading to warping over time. It's a good idea to get your guitar checked by a professional after you've been playing in Open E tuning for a while to make sure everything is still in alignment.

Remember that any tuning changes can also change the guitar's intonation, which can be understood as your guitar's pitch accuracy. You may need to adjust your guitar's bridge to ensure the intonation is correct, especially if you plan to use this tuning frequently. This is best done by a professional luthier.

How To Tune to Open E

[RS+] Open E Tuning: How To Tune Your Guitar to Open E SEO ARTICLE - how to tune open e

Now that your guitar is ready, let's dive into how to tune it to Open E:

  • Tuning the 6th String (Low E): The lowest string on your guitar is already an E in standard tuning, so no changes need to be made here.

  • Tuning the 5th String (A to B): Loosen the A string by turning the tuning peg clockwise. Strike the 5th string while turning the tuning peg until it matches the pitch of the open 2nd string (B in standard tuning).

  • Tuning the 4th String (D to E): For this, you will be tightening the string. Play the 6th string (low E), then turn the 4th string's tuning peg counter-clockwise until both strings produce the same pitch when played open.

  • Tuning the 3rd String (G to G#): The G string needs to be raised a half step to G#. The easiest way to achieve this is by fretting the G string on the first fret (which is G# in standard tuning), then adjusting the tuning peg until the open string matches this pitch.

  • Tuning the 2nd String (B): The second string remains as a B, just like in standard tuning. No adjustment is required here.

  • Tuning the 1st String (High E): The highest string on your guitar also remains an E in standard tuning, so no changes are needed here.

After these steps, you'll want to play back through each string to ensure it remains in tune, as the changes in tension pull and move the neck. Strum the open strings, and you should hear a bright, resonant E major chord. Remember to retune each string periodically as you go through the process, as changing the tension of one string can slightly alter the tuning of the others.

The free Rocksmith Tuner app makes tuning a breeze --- whether you're aiming for Open E, Standard, or Drop tunings, the Rocksmith Tuner app gives you real-time feedback and note detecting for professional-grade tuning.

What Are the Benefits of Open E Tuning?

Now that you have your guitar tuned to Open E, let's talk about why you might want to use this tuning.

  • Chord Voicings: One of the key benefits of Open E tuning is the rich, full-chord voicings it offers. The open strings form an E major chord, meaning you can play major chords up and down the neck just by barring all the strings on a single fret.

  • Slide Guitar: Open E tuning is popular in slide guitar styles, such as blues and Hawaiian guitar. The ability to play major chords on a single fret makes it easy to slide into different chords, producing a smooth, fluid sound.

  • Songwriting and Composition: The different chord voicings and harmonies in Open E tuning can provide a fresh perspective for songwriting and composition. It can lead to new melodic and harmonic ideas that you might not come across in standard tuning.

  • Fingerpicking and Soloing: Open E tuning can open up new possibilities for fingerpicking patterns and soloing. The open strings can be used as drones, against which you can play melodies on the other strings.

What Are Some Tips and Tricks for Open E Tuning?

[RS+] Open E Tuning: How To Tune Your Guitar to Open E SEO ARTICLE - tips and tricks

To maximize your enjoyment and exploration of Open E tuning, here are some tips and tricks:

  • Learn New Chord Shapes: Start by learning some basic chord shapes in Open E tuning. Remember, barring all the strings at a single fret gives you a major chord. Experiment with removing fingers to create different chord voicings.

  • Practice Slide Techniques: If you're interested in slide guitar, Open E is a great place to start. Practice sliding into and out of chords, and experiment with different slide materials to find the tone you like best.

  • Explore New Songs: Many popular songs have been written in Open E tuning. Learn some of these to get a feel for what's possible in this tuning.

  • Experiment with Capos: Using a capo can open up even more possibilities in Open E tuning. You can use it to easily change the key of the open strings, providing a wealth of new sonic landscapes to explore.

Practicing Open E

Open E tuning offers a range of possibilities, from full, resonant chord voicings to smooth slide guitar sounds. While it might feel a little strange at first, with some patience and practice, you might find that it opens up a whole new dimension to your guitar playing.

Whether you're looking to add a new sound to your repertoire, seeking a different perspective for songwriting, or just wanting to try something new, Open E tuning is well worth exploring.

Now take some time playing a range of genres and songs in Open E, getting comfortable with the new cord shapes and solo runs. For a range of songs in Open E tuning with simple walk-through playing to make learning fun, check out Rocksmith+ with their more than 7,000 songs.


A Brief History of the Blues article | All About Jazz

What Is A Warped Guitar Neck? (And How to Fix It) | Musician Wave

Guitarology: Understanding Acoustic Guitar Intonation | Taylor Guitars.

Social Share


Learning Guide

Get My Guide