Guitar tuning is the process of adjusting the pitch of the strings of a guitar so that they play the correct notes, making the instrument sound harmonious. One such tuning method, known as Open C Tuning, has its own unique characteristics that lend a distinct sound to the music.
Open C tuning is a type of alternate guitar tuning in which the standard tuning of the strings is adjusted so that strumming the guitar without pressing any strings gives you a C major chord. This tuning is represented as CGCGCE from the lowest string to the highest.
Open C tuning provides a deep, rich, resonant sound that many musicians find appealing. It's not just about achieving a different tone --- the open tuning can also lead to new inspirations, enabling a guitarist to explore a wider range of melodic possibilities.
The Basics of Open C Tuning
When you tune your guitar to Open C, you are effectively changing the frequency at which the strings vibrate. This change in vibration frequency directly influences the pitch and tonal quality of the notes produced.
In standard tuning, the guitar strings are typically tuned to EADGBE. By adjusting this tuning to CGCGCE, we lower the pitch of the E, A, and B strings. This generates a deeper, more resonant sound as the frequency of vibration decreases, giving Open C tuning its unique sonic characteristics.
It's not just about the low end, though. The tuning of the highest two strings to C and E creates a drone effect, a constant high pitch that can be played against to create a rich tapestry of sound, adding another layer to your guitar playing.
Why Should You Tune to Open C?
Tuning your guitar to Open C offers a unique sound that can open up a new world of creative possibilities. This tuning provides a deep, resonant tonality, producing a rich sound that can add depth to your music.
One of the biggest advantages of Open C tuning is its simplicity for chord formations. In Open C, a single finger across all the strings can form a major chord. This allows for simple and easy chord progressions, freeing you up to focus on rhythm, fingerpicking patterns, or slide guitar techniques.
Moreover, Open C tuning can also be a valuable tool for songwriting. The unique chord voicings and resonant drone notes can inspire new melodies, harmonies, and song structures, helping you to craft compelling musical pieces.
Remember, it's not about replacing standard tuning, but rather adding another tool to your musical toolbox. With Open C tuning, you can explore a wider range of musical expression, enriching your sound and expanding your creative potential.
How To Tune Your Guitar to Open C With a Tuner
If you have a chromatic tuner, like the one included in the Rocksmith Tuner app, it can make the process much simpler. Here's how to tune your guitar to Open C with a tuner:
- Tuning the 6th String (E to C): Start with the 6th string. Pluck the string and loosen the tuning peg until your tuner indicates that you have hit the note C.
- Tuning the 5th String (A to G): For the 5th string, do the same, tuning down until you reach a G note.
- Tuning the 4th String (D to C): Again, pluck the 4th string and lower the pitch until your tuner reads a C note.
- Tuning the 3rd String (G to G): The 3rd string is already a G, so no change is needed.
- Tuning the 2nd String (B to C): For the 2nd string, tighten the tuning peg until your tuner reads a C note.
- __Tuning the 1st String (E to E): __The 1st string is already an E, so no change is needed.
Having a tuner is a huge help in getting accurate tuning, but it's also essential to train your ear to recognize the correct pitches.
How To Tune Your Guitar to Open C Without a Tuner
Tuning your guitar to Open C without a tuner can be a bit challenging if you're new to it, but with a bit of practice, you can get it right.
Follow the steps below to tune your guitar to Open C:
- Tuning the 6th String (E to C): Start with your thickest string (the 6th string). In standard tuning, this is an E. You need to lower this pitch to a C. To do this, pluck the string and loosen the tuning peg until the pitch drops to a C. If you are familiar with the sound of a C note, you can tune it by ear. If not, you can use a piano or a digital source to get the sound of a C note.
- Tuning the 5th String (A to G): The next string (5th string) is an A in standard tuning. Lower this pitch to a G using the same method as above.
- Tuning the 4th String (D to C): The 4th string is a D in standard tuning. You need to drop this down to a C using the method described above.
- Tuning the 3rd String (G to G): The 3rd string is already a G in standard tuning, so it doesn't need to be changed.
- Tuning the 2nd String (B to C): The 2nd string is a B in standard tuning. Raise this string to a C by tightening the tuning peg while plucking the string.
- Tuning the 1st String (E to E): The 1st string remains as an E, so no adjustment is needed.
Remember to always approach tuning with patience. It's okay if it takes a few tries to get it right --- it will get easier over time.
What Are Some Tips for Playing in Open C Tuning?
Now that your guitar is tuned to Open C, it's time to explore the new sonic possibilities it offers. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Familiarize Yourself with the New Finger Positions: Open tunings require different fingerings than standard tuning. Be patient and give yourself time to adapt to these changes. Practice simple chord shapes and scales to get used to the new tuning.
- Explore Barre Chords: One of the advantages of open tunings is the ability to play full chords by barring all the strings at a single fret. Experiment with this technique to unlock new harmonic possibilities.
- Use Open Strings to Your Advantage: The open strings of your guitar now form a C major chord. This can be used for drone-like effects and can add depth and resonance to your playing.
- Develop Your Slide Techniques: Open tunings are often used for slide guitar. If you have a slide, try incorporating it into your playing to create smooth, gliding note transitions.
Experiment and Have Fun: The most important tip is to experiment and have fun. Open C tuning will provide a new landscape for your creativity. Explore it freely and see where it takes you.
Practicing Open C
Open C tuning can open up a new world of sonic possibilities for guitarists, from rich chord voicings to unique melodic patterns. While it might be challenging at first, tuning your guitar to Open C and getting comfortable with the new note layout can ultimately provide a rewarding and inspiring experience.
Whether you're using a tuner or your own ear, remember that patience and practice are key. It may take a while to adjust, but once you do, you'll discover a fresh and exciting dimension to your guitar playing.
While exploring alternative tunings, it helps to try your hand at a range of songs and genres in Open C. This is where Rocksmith+ comes in, with more than 7,000 songs from around the world, many being in Open C, you can practice new chord shapes and solo runs.