5 ways to use DADGAD tuning

Jimmy Page
(Image credit: Art Zelin/Getty Images)

Not just the open tuning that’s most fun to say, DADGAD is also one of the most versatile guitar tunings. When you strum the open strings it produces a Dsus4 chord which, being neither major nor minor, has the potential to create a world of different moods. Jimmy Page exploited it in Kashmir, Black Mountain Side and White Summer, inspired by the folk guitarists Davy Graham and Bert Jansch, who popularised the tuning. 

Although best known as a folk tuning, DADGAD has a world of applications. It crops up in All Time Low’s 2008 pop-punk classic Dear Maria, Count Me In, and ’80s rockers Tesla used it for the hard-driving riffs of Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out). Slipknot, Ed Sheeran, and Johnny Cash have all used it, and it powers the solo acoustic guitar arrangements of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Eric Roche and Gabriella Quevedo.

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Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).