Your mother buys you your first guitar when you are eleven years old. Having also been given Bert Weedon’s “Play in a Day”, you learn how to tune the strings to EADGBE and you also learn a few chord shapes. With regard to music, everything else is probably a mystery. That could well be the end of the story.

When in my mid forties, having then recently started playing accompaniment for traditional tunes, I struggled with standard tuning and DADGAD provided a solution. Prior to this I had dabbled with alternative tunings, probably for no other reason than it seemed trendy. 

These days, for me, the DADGAD tuning opens up ways to move around the fret board by using passing chords and inversions (alternative ways to play the same chord). It also enables me to “key hop” with relative ease when playing a succession of tunes.

My horizons broadened considerably when I started to work with closed position chording. “Closed position chording”, means blanking off all of the strings to form a recognisable chord. If you go down this route, you will find it a stretch at first because your fingers will not want to do what is expected of them and you will be using four fingers to cover six strings. Stick with it, and it will become easier. If you can achieve closed position chording, in theory, you ought to be able to play in any key without using a capo, simply by moving positions up or down the fret board.

Six strings with only four available fingers, is the fundamental challenge for any guitarist in whatever tuning he or she chooses to play. One last thought….never forget…if you keep throwing mud at a brick wall, it will eventually stick!

Paul Openshaw (July 2013)

Below is a description of a workshop I gave at Bunkfest 2014.

DADGAD Tuning for Guitar: Paul Openshaw

The workshop will work on method and accompaniment (song and tune) covering chord shapes, inversions, passing chords and closed position chording. Get that guitar out and come and try something different.

DADGAD by Paul openshaw


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