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A Beginner’s Guide To DADGAD Tuning: The #1 Path To New Riffs!

DADGAD Tuning
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We often hit a writer’s block as guitarists, and writing a new riff can be frustrating. That’s where DADGAD Tuning steps in! This popular tuning might help that mental block, or help you learn a popular song!



DADGAD Guitar Tuning

Are you a beginner guitarist looking to explore new sounds and experiment with different tunings? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we will introduce you to DADGAD tuning, a popular alternative tuning that can bring a unique flavor to your guitar playing.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of DADGAD tuning and how it compares to standard guitar tuning. Sometimes using a capo or changing tuning can put you at an advantage when you are writing riffs.

New sounds like DADGAD tuning can absolutely give you some inspiration. Whole songs were built from using DADGAD tuning! These songs might not even be something that you have noticed when it came to the tuning, or maybe it caught your ear because it sounded so different.

  • 1. Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
  • 2. Photograph by Ed Sheeran
  • 3. Knock on Wood by Justin King
  • 4. Circle By Slipknot
  • 5. The Only boy awake by Meadows
  • 6. Black Mountain Side by Led Zeppelin
  • 7. Dear Maria Count Me In by All Time Low
  • 8. Tell Her This by Del Amitri
  • 9. In Dreams by Ben Howard
  • 10. Drifting by Andy McKee
  • 11. Black and White by Niall Horan
  • 12. That’s When You Came In by Steel Panther
  • 13. Dueling Ninjas by Trace Bundy
  • 14. Abacus by Fionn Regan

So maybe you have heard one of these songs before, and wondered how the artist got such a unique sound. The answer is the interesting ways that you can use DADGAD tuning! So how do you get started with this tuning?

What is DADGAD Tuning?

DADGAD tuning is an alternative guitar tuning that offers a rich, open sound and is commonly associated with folk, Celtic, and acoustic guitar styles. Unlike the standard EADGBE tuning, DADGAD tuning involves changing the pitch of the guitar strings to create a new set of notes.

Tuning Your Guitar to DADGAD

To tune your guitar to DADGAD, follow these steps:

  1. Begin with your guitar in standard tuning (EADGBE).
  2. Start by detuning your 6th string (the thickest string) from E to D. You can use a tuner or reference pitch to achieve the desired pitch.
  3. Next, tune your 5th string (A string) down to G.
  4. Leave the 4th string (D string) as it is.
  5. Tune your 3rd string (G string) down to F#.
  6. Leave the 2nd string (B string) as it is.
  7. Finally, tune your 1st string (the thinnest string) down to D.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your guitar should be in DADGAD tuning! You will notice that traditional chord shapes do not work very well, but we will cover that as well. If you do a little bit of experimenting, you will start to understand how the chords work.

The bottom two strings work just like Drop D tuning, so that is a good place to start to wrap your head around how DADGAD tuning works. But the rest of the strings will work with different shapes, and that is what makes this so much fun!

Exploring DADGAD Tuning

DADGAD tuning offers a unique set of chord voicings and intervals that can inspire creativity and add depth to your playing. Here are a few key aspects to consider:

Chord Shapes and Voicings

One of the fascinating aspects of DADGAD tuning is the variety of chord shapes and voicings it enables. Due to the altered string intervals, certain chord shapes may be easier to play or have a distinct sound compared to standard tuning. Experiment with different chord shapes and explore the open strings to discover new sounds and voicings.

This is especially true when it comes to using that low D string. You can easily move single note patterns around the low A string, droning on the low D. Which brings us to the next technique that is possible…

DADGAD tuning lends itself well to modal playing and the use of drone notes. The open strings in this tuning (D-A-D) can serve as drone notes, providing a constant tonal center while you explore different melodies and chord progressions. This feature is particularly useful for creating atmospheric and hypnotic sounds.

Fingerpicking and Slide Guitar

DADGAD tuning is often favored by fingerstyle and slide guitar players. The open strings and unique intervals offer a rich and resonant sound that complements these playing techniques. Whether you’re fingerpicking intricate melodies or sliding between notes, DADGAD tuning provides a versatile and expressive palette.

DADGAD Tuning With A Capo

You can most certainly use DADGAD tuning with a capo, especially if you want to transpose the key of a song. The capo acts like a “movable nut” for your guitar. So if you wanted a song to be in the key of E, simply move the capo to the second fret.


DADGAD vs. Standard Guitar Tuning

DADGAD Tuning

Now that you’re familiar with DADGAD tuning, let’s compare it to standard guitar tuning (EADGBE) to understand the differences and benefits of each:

Sound and Tonal Qualities

DADGAD tuning has a distinct sound characterized by its open and rich resonance. It lends itself well to folk, Celtic, and acoustic styles, creating a unique and atmospheric vibe. On the other hand, standard tuning is more versatile and widely used across various genres, offering a balanced and familiar tonal range.

Ease of Playing Chords

DADGAD tuning can make certain chord shapes easier to play due to its altered intervals. It offers a unique set of voicings that may require less finger stretching and allow for more accessible fretboard patterns. Standard tuning, being the most common tuning, offers a wider range of chord voicings and facilitates easier navigation of conventional guitar music.

Versatility and Adaptability

Standard tuning is highly versatile and adaptable to different musical styles and genres. It is the foundation for learning guitar and understanding music theory. DADGAD tuning, while more specialized, provides a distinct sonic landscape that can add depth and creativity to your playing.

Additional Guitar Tuning Resources


Wrapping Up…

DADGAD Tuning Jimmy Page

I can still remember the first time I heard “Kashmir” when I was a kid. Jimmy Page’s guitar was rocking, with a swirling orchestra playing an exotic scale that made my ears just perk up immediately. The steady, syncopated drum beat pulls you in to another universe.

Now I know why, it was the DADGAD tuning that makes that riff sound so cool. Jimmy was able to make some interesting chord shapes based on a simple chromatic riff. Can you play “Kashmir” in Standard Tuning? You can, but it is much harder, and you cannot do all of the chord shapes.

There are so many songs that you can learn, as well as make up some of your own riffs using DADGAD tuning. The best way to get started is just trying it out for yourself, and seeing if you feel inspired by it. You may write the next famous riff!

You have now embarked on your journey into the world of DADGAD tuning. You have learned what DADGAD tuning is, how to tune your guitar to DADGAD, and explored its unique qualities compared to standard tuning. Remember to experiment, have fun, and let your creativity flow as you explore the possibilities that DADGAD tuning has to offer. Happy playing!

What is DADGAD Tuning?

based on the notes that you tine your guitar to, DADGAD is a popular alternate tuning. One of the fascinating aspects of DADGAD tuning is the variety of chord shapes and voicings it enables. Due to the altered string intervals, certain chord shapes may be easier to play or have a distinct sound compared to standard tuning.

DADGAD Versus Standard: What Is The Difference?

DADGAD tuning can make certain chord shapes easier to play due to its altered intervals. It offers a unique set of voicings that may require less finger stretching and allow for more accessible fretboard patterns. Standard tuning, being the most common tuning, offers a wider range of chord voicings and facilitates easier navigation of conventional guitar music.

What Are Some Songs In DADGAD Tuning?

These songs might not even be something that you have noticed when it came to the tuning, or maybe it caught your ear because it sounded so different.

1. Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
2. Photograph by Ed Sheeran
3. Knock on Wood by Justin King
4. Circle By Slipknot
5. The Only boy awake by Meadows
6. Black Mountain Side by Led Zeppelin
7. Dear Maria Count Me In by All Time Low
8. Tell Her This by Del Amitri
9. In Dreams by Ben Howard
10. Drifting by Andy McKee
11. Black and White by Niall Horan
12. That’s When You Came In by Steel Panther
13. Dueling Ninjas by Trace Bundy
14. Abacus by Fionn Regan

Who Are Some Players That Use DADGAD Tuning?

Jimmy Page is probably the most famous example with the Led Zeppelin hit “Kashmir”. But many other guitarists have used this tuning to achieve an interesting sound. From Andy McKee’s virtuoso tapping licks, to Ed Sheeran’s infectious, acoustic pop songs.

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