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Guitar for open tuning

uncle fester

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Hi All,

I have my Guild D25 (mahogany dread) I use for open tunings, thinking of upgrading.  I'm trending towards a hummingbird or CW (just because I want one and to be able to compare long term to my J45) but I didn't know if there were things I should consider if I was getting the guitar primarily for open tunings.  (Which then lends me to mostly fingerpicking and some slide...  all bluesy / bluesy rock issh)

For a guitar being considered mostly for open tuning use, is there anything that should be considered, or just let things go where the GAS takes you?  Thanks for any input, it's appreciated.

Rgds - Uncle Fester

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Wanting to get a guitar to play in open tuning is as  good a rationalization for getting another guitar as any.    I do not play in open tunings near as much as I used to although I will still launch into Blind Bake's "Chump Man  Blues" in Open D or Skip James' :"I'm So Glad" in Open Dm.    Personally though I really like the Guilds.  My favorite D25  was the short-lived  transitional model built in the mid-1970s  which retained the spruce top of the D25 but acquired the laminate arched back of the D25M. 

Of the two guitars` you mention  though the HB should sound less like a J45 than the C&W.  

As a side note, Mary McCaslin was always one of my favorite non-blues players who spent a lot of time in open tunings such as her cover of the Beatles "Things We Sad Today" in Open Gm. 

Edited by zombywoof
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1 hour ago, kidblast said:

I would say just go where the GAS leads.  you never know, you might find a killer acoustic and use it for a bunch of stuff.


I agree... why would it matter? Have been playing around with open D, open E and some variations recently (for the first time). Sounds good on my 2008 J-50, also on my Martin D-15m (which has a very non-Gibson sound).

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You can do anything you like - your guitar, and if you stick to Open G or D tunings with normal strings, I can’t see a problem.

And you buy the Bird if you like.

I will tell you what I do because we are locked in for the Apocalypse.....and some others here may like it long after you bought the Bird anyway!

I have many guitars and a good thing about that is leaving a guitar in the tuning I was using for a while. Changing tunings between standard and Open G or D for slide is easy but stressing them strings more than not. And changing tunings live in front of an audience is an art form all of its own! See Leo K or John H jnr.....and watch them tell the audience a long, ling story while they tune and change broken strings!

So me, currently have a few ‘formats’ within the Open tuning thingo. (All fingerpicking...and committed to the long game

I have Open G but playing just left hand fingering, no slide, normal strings, normal setup. Today, I have my 37 L-0 in that.

I have Open G for slide and like a great big fat string (16) on the 1st string and that will raise the action a bit without asking you! Great for clean slide with no fret rattle. Awful for plain fingering. Today, my Maton SRS808 is set like that.

I have Open D just fingering etc, see above for G. Today I have my Waterloo WL-14 ladder braced model in that.

I have Open D for slide, see above for G slide. Today I have my 1952 LG1 set like that.

I have heavy duty National reso single cone in Open G for slide and whatever. Fat Pearce reso string set comes with 14 on 1st. I tune down for F.

I have heavy, heavy, heavy duty National Tricone in Open D for slide plus. Fat Pearce reso string set comes with 14 on 1st. I actually tune these down further so the bass string is a rumbling low C.

DADGAD tuning, only choice  is the famous for that tuning - Lowden O22. I tune it down 2 steps more for the low C on bass. Massive sound.


So.....I doubt a short scale Hummingbird would appreciate tuning like the last 3! Strings could go flappy and loose. A long scale Dove might be ok for normal DADGAD. A maple long scale Dove probably better for your idea, Fester, and will be very different from your J. (my Taylor 717e Builder’s Edition V Class  is also pretty fabulous in DADGAD)


How is that?






Edited by BluesKing777
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1 hour ago, kidblast said:

I think just about any guitar will handle DADGAD and other alternate tunigs.  (which I do a fair amount of)  Tho, droping DADGAD to C,, that may be interesting...



My Lowden O22 has been in CGCFGC since July 2017!

Thunder! Rumble!

DADGAD tuned down 2 frets equivalent would probably make most guitar necks swing down around and back up to hit you in the face. The Lowden O22 has a 5 piece large neck with approx twice the amount of wood as a Gibson standard neck. Maybe why the DADGAD set like them......mine is still close to in tune every time I open the case. Incredible, really, a work of amazing quality and not even that high in the Lowden guitar heirachy. I put it in standard, just to see,  and put it back. I put it back to DADGAD and put it back. No, CGCFGC it stays!

I put my Taylor 717e BE GP in DADGADas it seems to me to be very....Lowden. But I put that back in standard.

You can do anything on anything really, but some guitars have a slot.






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Open tunings introduce a lot of newer tones and for me, playing is a lot of fun and I find it pretty easy.  Just be aware that the higher tunings can put a  lot of stress on the guitar's neck.  A guitar's neck strength, bridge,  and truss rod are tested, along with the string guage.  I had a Fender resonator guitar (the all chrome one) and I bowed the neck on it.  Ended-up getting me a $300 Gretch squareneck and it's a lot of fun.  Whatever you do, just be sure the guitar is built for the stress of particular tunings.  Good luck and I hope you find what you need.

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5 hours ago, Larsongs said:

If you're playing old style Blues I'd use the J-45 in Open Tuning.. I think it would sound more authentic..

The Hummingbird I'd keep in Std Tuning for all my other types of playing...


I look forward to the opportunity to being able to do that evaluation over a long period of time.  

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