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Standard Guitar Tuning and Alternate Tunings

Standard Guitar Tuning is Part 2 in a 14 part series on Learn to Play Guitar Lessons. Learn how to tune a guitar. We will use an electric tuner and will review the string names. We'll look at alternate tunings such as dropped D and DADGAD. Lastly, we will identify all 12 chromatic scale names on the guitar.


Standard Guitar Tuning

A guitar is tuned in 4ths and the standard tuning is as follows:

Top or sixth string is tunes to an E
Fifth string is tuned to an A
Fourth string is tuned to a D
Third string is tuned to a G
Second string is tuned to a B
First string is tuned to an E (two octaves up from the top E)

The reason these are fourths is that the distance from each string is a 4th, including the notes you begin and end on. For example, E to A is really E-F-G-A.

When a guitar is strummed in standard tuning it spells an E minor 11 chord. E is the root, A is an 11 or (sus), D is a minor 7th, G is the minor 3rd, B is the 5th and E is the root two octaves up.

standard guitar tuning


These tuners are unbelievably easy to use and very handy as they clip right onto your guitar or bass. They sense the vibration from the strings when plucked. I own this and love it!

For more info or to PURCHASE this handy tuner, click image:


Alternate tunings can be a great way to explore new chord progressions to spur ideas for songwriting. Experiment with the tunings below once you have mastered the standard guitar tuning.

From left to right is the same as top to bottom on the guitar.

1. DADGAD (also called Modal D) - This is my favorite as you can get very rich sounding chords from this tuning. The root D is tripled, the fifth A is doubled and the G acts as a suspension (sus) or an 11.

2. Dropped D - The sixth string E is lowered to a D. No other strings change.

3. CGCGCE or Open C - This tuning spells a C Major chord.

4. DADF#AD or Open D - This tuning spells a D Major chord.

5. DADFAD or Open D Minor - This tuning spells a D minor chord.

6. DGDGBD or Open G - This tuning spells a G Major chord.

7. DGDGCD or Modal G - This tuning spells a G Major chord with C as a suspension (sus) or an 11.

8. DGDGA#D or Open G MInor - This tuning spells a G minor chord.

9. EAC#EAE or Open A - This tuning spells an A Major chord.


The chromatic scale consists of 12 notes that repeat over and over in western music. Before we begin to build chords on the guitar, it is important to know all the note names so the building of chords is easier to understand.

For an in depth review, see my page on the Chromatic Scale and return here to view the following video.


Continue to Part 3, C Guitar Chords

Return to Top of Standard Guitar Tuning

Return to Learn to Play Guitar Lessons

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