Open G tuning chords and scales

Open G tuning is a captivating alternate guitar tuning that has earned its place in the hearts of blues and rock guitarists. One of the key elements in mastering this tuning is understanding the chords and scales that make it so powerful. In this article, we’ll explore open G tuning chords and scales, offering insights into how they work and how to use them effectively.

Chords in Open G Tuning:

Open G tuning (D G D G B D) provides a rich canvas for creating unique chord voicings that are distinct from those in standard tuning. Here are some essential open G tuning chords:

  1. G Major (I): Strum all the strings open. This forms a G major chord and serves as the foundation for many songs in this tuning.
  2. D Major (IV): Place your index finger across the 5th fret, covering all the strings. This creates a D major chord. You can also play this chord by barring only the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings while leaving the other strings open.
  3. C Major (V): Place your index finger across the 7th fret, covering all the strings. This forms a C major chord. Similar to the D major chord, you can also bar only the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings.
  4. A Minor (vi): Place your index finger across the 2nd fret, covering all the strings except the low D string. This results in an A minor chord. The open D string provides a bluesy drone in this voicing.

Scales in Open G Tuning:

In open G tuning, the G major pentatonic scale is a fundamental scale that aligns with the tuning’s key. Here’s a breakdown of the G major pentatonic scale in open G tuning:

  1. Low D (6th string): Start on the 4th fret of the low D string, which is the G note.
  2. G (5th string): Play the open G string (unfretted).
  3. B (4th string): Move to the 4th fret of the B string.
  4. D (3rd string): Play the open D string (unfretted).
  5. E (2nd string): Continue to the 2nd fret of the high E string.
  6. G (1st string): Conclude the scale by playing the open G string (unfretted).

This scale forms the basis for many blues and rock licks and melodies in open G tuning.

Practical Tips for Playing Chords and Scales:

  1. Slide Techniques: Open G tuning is perfect for slide guitar playing. Use a slide (glass or metal) on your fretting hand for smooth, expressive slides between chords and scale notes.
  2. Exploration: Experiment with different positions on the fretboard to discover variations of the G major pentatonic scale in open G tuning and new chord voicings.
  3. Rhythm and Timing: Develop your sense of timing and rhythm by practicing chords and scales along with metronomes or backing tracks. Focus on creating rhythmic and melodic phrases.
  4. Chord Progressions: Combine the open G tuning chords with the G major pentatonic scale to create dynamic chord progressions and improvisations.


Open G tuning offers a world of creative possibilities for guitarists, particularly those drawn to blues and rock music. The unique chords and scales inherent in this tuning can help you infuse your playing with soulful and powerful sounds. By mastering these chords and scales, experimenting with slide techniques, and practicing rhythmically, you can unlock the full potential of open G tuning and take your guitar playing to new heights of expressiveness and creativity.

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