How To Tune To DADGAD – The Mystical Tuning Adventure

Hey there, string twangers! Ready to dive into the ethereal world of DADGAD tuning? Whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned six-string samurai, DADGAD tuning is like that mysterious door at the end of the hallway, beckoning with promises of uncharted musical territories. So, lace up those tuning shoes, and let’s embark on this enchanting expedition!

A Bit Of Background Banter

Before we get all technical, let’s warm up with some fun facts and tales from the ancient guitar scrolls.


For those scratching their heads, DADGAD is named so because of the notes your guitar strings will be tuned to. From the lowest (6th) string to the highest (1st), they go: D, A, D, G, A, D. It’s a favorite amongst many a guitarist because of its droning, open sound which lends itself beautifully to fingerstyle playing, Celtic music, and more.

Who’s Using It?

Many top-notch guitarists from various genres have dipped their toes (or rather, fingers) into the DADGAD waters. Think legends like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin (listen to ‘Kashmir’) or the fingerstyle maestro Pierre Bensusan. It’s versatile, it’s moody, and it’s downright magical.

Nitty Gritty: Tuning Up (Or Down)

Alright, let’s get those strings humming in DADGAD harmony!

From Standard to DADGAD:

  1. 6th String (E): Tune this string down a whole step to D. That’s two notes lower, folks.
  2. 5th String (A): Let this one chill. It stays as A.
  3. 4th String (D): This dude’s also taking a break. Remains D.
  4. 3rd String (G): Keep this one as G. Yes, it’s a lazy day for the middle strings.
  5. 2nd String (B): Time for some action! Tune this down a whole step to A.
  6. 1st String (E): And finally, bring this one down to D, just like its thicker 6th string cousin.

Handy Hints:

  • Use A Tuner: Especially if you’re new to this. Electronic tuners can be a godsend.
  • Go Slow: When detuning, go bit by bit. You wouldn’t rush a fine wine, would you?
  • Check Intonation: Once tuned, play up the fretboard to ensure notes stay in tune across the board.

Feeling The DADGAD Vibes

Tuned up? Sweet! Now, let’s explore what makes DADGAD so darn special.

Open Strings Galore:

One of the most magical things about DADGAD is its open sound. Strum all the strings without pressing down any frets. Feel that? That’s an open Dsus4 chord, my friend.

New Chord Shapes:

With great tuning comes great…new chord shapes! Your regular chord shapes from standard tuning won’t apply here, but fret not (pun intended). There are tons of DADGAD chord charts online to guide you.

Fingerstyle Fun:

Thanks to the open, droning sound, DADGAD is a fingerstyle player’s dream. The tuning lends itself to intricate picking patterns, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. Let those fingers dance!

Some Nifty Tips & Tricks

  • Exploration is Key: More than any other tuning, DADGAD is about exploration. Roam around the fretboard. Discover new sounds. Get lost (in a good way)!
  • Capos are Cool: Want to transpose easily without changing finger positions? Slap on a capo. DADGAD and capos are like peanut butter and jelly – a match made in heaven.
  • Feel the Rhythm: With its drone-like qualities, DADGAD is all about rhythm and groove. Don’t just focus on the melody; let your strumming hand get in on the action too.

Video: How To Tune To DADGAD on Acoustic Guitar

Techniques to Amplify Your DADGAD Sound

DADGAD isn’t just about tuning; it’s about the techniques that complement its unique vibe. Here’s the lowdown:

Fingerpicking Goodness

Given its droning and open nature, DADGAD works wonders with fingerstyle playing. Those open strings allow you to weave bass lines while letting other strings ring out. Try patterns that utilize thumb slaps, percussive hits, and harmonics.

Slide Into It

Slide guitar and DADGAD? A match made in heaven! Slide playing really brings out the ethereal quality of this tuning, especially when playing blues or folk.

Droning Strings

One of the key characteristics of DADGAD is its droning sound. Utilize open strings as much as you can, letting them ring out to create a fuller, more ambient sound.

Songwriting and DADGAD

DADGAD isn’t just for covering traditional folk tunes. It can be a great tool for songwriting.

Explore New Horizons

That unique resonance? It can inspire melodies and harmonies you might not think of in standard tuning. Whether you’re crafting a ballad, a rock anthem, or a lullaby, DADGAD can be your muse.

Riffs and Solos

Don’t be fooled into thinking DADGAD is only for rhythm. Oh no! You can craft some catchy riffs and solos with this tuning. With its droning strings and open sound, lead lines can feel even more poignant.

DADGAD in Modern Music

While DADGAD has its roots in traditional music, it’s made a significant mark on modern tunes as well.

Notable Artists and Songs

  1. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin): Songs like “Kashmir” showcase the power of DADGAD in rock music.
  2. Pierre Bensusan: Known for his fingerstyle prowess, Pierre has championed DADGAD in the world of modern acoustic guitar.
  3. Sarah McQuaid: A proponent of DADGAD, she’s blended it seamlessly into contemporary folk music.

Video: How To Tune To DADGAD on Electric Guitar

Final Musings and Pro Tips

  1. Watch Your String Tension: When detuning, especially if you’re using lighter strings, be mindful. You might want to consider medium gauge strings for DADGAD.
  2. Maintain That Guitar: Alternate tunings can affect neck tension over time. Regular maintenance and check-ups can help avoid any long-term issues.
  3. Always Be Curious: DADGAD is just one of many alternate tunings. If you’re vibing with it, consider exploring others like Open G, Open D, or even C6!

In wrapping up our DADGAD adventure, always remember that music is a realm of endless possibilities. Alternate tunings, like DADGAD, are just gateways to new sonic landscapes. As you journey with your guitar, let curiosity be your compass and passion your map. Whether you’re strumming away in a bustling city or atop a tranquil hill, with DADGAD, you’re sure to create echoes that resonate far and wide. Happy tuning and even happier playing!