Open C Tuning

Open C Tuning in the past was considered as one of the 3 main open tunings.... the other 2 being Open D and Open G. It's probably the least written about and the least used of the three. And though I've no hard evidence, it appears DADGAD has taken Open C's place in the big 3 open tunings.

Why? It's hard to give an answer. One possible reason is that blues musicians----who have affected the world's music to such a welcome and profound degree----did not choose to write or play much in Open C tuning. There's the question again. Why not?

It can't be because Open C tuning doesn't lend itself to the blues, 'cause it surely does. In fact for country blues, swamp blues, fast or slow blues of any kind, it projects a powerful sound. It's also a fun tuning to play, with really catchy musical options sitting comfortably under your fingers.

It can't be because Open C tuning doesn't lend itself to folk music, because it's great here also, and thankfully gets used more often, especially by some contemporary musicians. Some great tunes with excitement and flair, others haunting and exquisite, have been written in recent decades.

It can't be because it doesn't lend itself to slide guitar .... common to both blues and folk music, because it shines here as well in both heavy and lyrical tunes.

And if you like minor keys, you can have Open C Minor just by lowering the high E string one fret to Eb. Fret the 2nd string at the 3rd fret and make the 1st string match that tone. I don't own a 12 string, but I've heard this is an amazing tuning if you do. If you don't own one either, no worries, it's amazing on 6 string as well. More on this later.

Versatile is this tuning's middle name. Any musical style or genre seems to work fine, whether it's those above, or rhythm & blues, ska, calypso, Latin, Celtic or pop. And yes, you could play all those in DADGAD .... you can maybe do anything in any tuning .... but some styles are definitely not near as easy to play in DADGAD as they are in Open C.

Fingerstyle guitar is wonderful in Open C tuning. So let's tune up! If you get excited over musical sound .... guitar in particular .... you're on your way to a new universe.

From Standard tuning, here's how to tune to Open C. Strings number 1 - 6, thin to thick.

1. The E string (The 1st skinny one) stays the same.

2. Raise the B string to C by fretting the 3rd string at the 5th fret.

3. The G (3rd string) stays the same.

4. Lower the D (4th string) to C an octave lower than the 2nd string C.

5. Lower the A (5th string) to G an octave lower than the 3rd string G.

6. Lower the E (6th string) to C an octave lower than the 4th string C.

Retuning lower, the neck may relax, so notes may need tweaking a bit to sound right.

Return from Open C Tuning to Open Tunings Fingerstyle