How To Tune To Open E Like A Rockstar – 7 Steps And 3 Tips

Okay, string-pluckers, gather ’round! Whether you’re a seasoned guitar veteran or just got your fingers on the fretboard for the first time, today’s topic is for you. We’re diving deep into the world of Open E tuning.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be tuning your axe to Open E like you were born to do it.

What The Heck Is Open E Tuning?

Before we get our hands dirty, let’s demystify what Open E tuning really is.

In standard tuning, your guitar strings (from the thickest to the thinnest) are tuned to E, A, D, G, B, and E. But when we talk about Open E tuning, we’re actually tuning the guitar so that when you strum all the strings open (without pressing any fret), it produces an E major chord.

Why Would Anyone Want To Tune To Open E?

Great question! There are a bunch of cool reasons:

  1. Slide Guitar Goodness: Ever heard some blues slide guitar that just sends shivers down your spine? A lot of that magic happens in Open E tuning.
  2. Richer Harmonics: Open tunings often give your guitar a more resonant and harmonic-rich sound. Perfect for ambient and fingerstyle pieces!
  3. Simpler Chord Shapes: With Open E, you can play major chords by simply barring a single fret. Talk about making things easy!

The Step-By-Step To Open E Tuning

Ready to get tuned up? Let’s go!

1. Get Your Tools Ready

First things first. Get yourself a decent tuner. It can be a clip-on tuner, pedal tuner, or even a phone app. Whichever you prefer, just make sure it’s accurate.

2. Start With The Low E String

Good news here! Your low E string (6th string) is already where it needs to be. Give it a strum and appreciate its low-end glory.

3. Adjust The A String

Next up is the A string (5th string). You’ll want to tune this up a whole step to B. Be gentle, though. You’re increasing the tension on this string, so take your time to avoid any potential snap.

4. Tune The D String

This is your 4th string. Similar to the A string, you’re going to tune this one up a whole step too. Take it from D to E.

5. G String Stays Put

The G string (3rd string) doesn’t need any moving. Just like the low E, it’s already in its happy place.

6. B String Is Good As Is

Your second string, the B, is also already where it should be. Give it a quick check to ensure it’s still on point.

7. Finally, The High E String

Last, but definitely not least, is the high E string (1st string). Again, this one’s already tuned where we need it. Just ensure it’s in tune.

And voilà! Strum all the strings together, and you should be greeted with a beautiful E major chord.

Tips And Tricks For Open E Tuning

Let’s not stop there! Here are a couple of tips to make your Open E experience even smoother:

1. Watch Your String Tension

Remember, when you’re tuning strings up (like the A and D strings in this case), you’re increasing their tension. Over-tension can lead to broken strings. So, always make sure to tune slowly and never force things.

2. Experiment With Chords

With the new tuning, you’ll find that the same old chord shapes produce different sounds. This is a great opportunity to experiment and find new voicings. Have fun and see what you can discover!

3. Listen To Open E Masters

There are numerous guitar legends who’ve made magic with Open E tuning. Listening to them can provide inspiration and help you understand the potential of this tuning. Dive into the works of Duane AllmanKeith Richards, or even Derek Trucks to see Open E in action.

The Pros And Cons Of Open E Tuning

Now, I’m a fan of Open E, but like everything in life, it has its upsides and downsides. Let’s weigh them out, shall we?


  1. Simplified Chord Fingerings: Barre chords become a breeze. Just bar all the strings at any fret, and you’ve got a major chord. Super handy for slide guitar too!
  2. Unique Sound: The open strings resonate with played notes creating a fuller, richer sound. You can achieve textures and tonalities that aren’t possible in standard tuning.
  3. Inspiration: Ever felt stuck in a musical rut? Changing your tuning can refresh your approach and reignite that creative spark.


  1. String Stress: As we mentioned earlier, tuning up can stress out your strings. Especially if you’re playing on an old set, be wary of the dreaded snap.
  2. Needing To Relearn: If you’re familiar with the standard tuning, Open E can feel like you’re starting from scratch. Chord shapes, scales, and patterns you’ve memorized will be different.
  3. Not Always Suitable: Some songs just aren’t meant for Open E. If you’re covering a track or playing with a band, you might need to retune or swap guitars.

Other Things To Keep In Mind

Adjusting Your Playing Technique

When you venture into the land of Open E, you might need to tweak your playing technique a bit. Here’s what to think about:

  1. Right Hand Dynamics: Because of the resonant nature of Open E, controlling unwanted string noise becomes crucial. Muting techniques, especially palm muting, become your best friends.
  2. Slide Control: If you’re diving into slide guitar, controlling unwanted noise becomes doubly important. Ensure your slide is only touching the strings you want it to.

Maintenance and Guitar Setup

Tuning to Open E regularly? You might want to consider a few setup tweaks:

  1. String Gauge: Using slightly heavier strings can compensate for the added tension, especially on the strings you’re tuning up.
  2. Truss Rod Adjustments: Changing the tuning can affect the neck’s bow. If you’re dedicated to Open E, it might be worth getting your guitar’s truss rod adjusted by a professional.
  3. Nut and Saddle: The nut and saddle might need some adjustment, especially if you change string gauges. A well-set nut and saddle can drastically improve intonation and playability.

The Verdict

So there we have it! You’ve not only learned the ins and outs of tuning to Open E but also delved into the deeper realms of how to make the most of it.

Open E tuning isn’t just another way to tune your guitar; it’s a doorway to a whole new world of musical possibilities. Whether you’re into blues, rock, or just want to experiment with new sounds, Open E has something for everyone.

Remember, guitar playing is as much about exploration as it is about precision. Open E tuning is just one of the myriad ways to explore the vast sonic landscape that your guitar offers. Don’t be afraid to dive in, experiment, and most importantly, have a ton of fun.

So, go ahead, retune that guitar, and let the Open E adventures begin! And who knows, maybe the next hit song or iconic riff is just waiting for you to discover it in this unique tuning.

And if Open E isn’t your jam? That’s cool too. The world of alternate tunings is vast and varied. Who knows, maybe Open D, Open G, or DADGAD will be the next on your list.

Keep strumming, keep exploring, and keep the music alive. Rock on!