The first time I heard a guitar player playing in DADGAD tuning, I thought I was listening to an extraordinarily talented guitar player. Not only was the music he made beautiful, but the overtones and sustain produced by his guitar had me swooning. I sat and listened to him for about an hour, then we started talking. For those who don't know (as I once didn't) this tuning means you are tuning your low E string down to a D, your B string down to an A, and your high E string down to a D. Instead of the standard EADGBE configuration your guitar is now configured to DADGAD.
When I asked Doug what he was doing that sounded so nice, he told me about this tuning. I remember saying to him, "No wonder you sound so good, you're cheating!" I was of the mindset that anything that made the guitar sound nicer without having to do the actual work of learning to play well in standard tuning could not be counted on as talent on the part of the player. Fast forward 30 years and my favorite way to play my beautiful Martin HD28 is in this tuning. The sustain and overtones are what still get me about this tuning. And on a really great guitar it is even better.
Over the last several years I have written two instrumental songs on my guitar in this tuning and am now beginning work on a third. One is a complex fingerpicked piece, the other is also a complex piece but it is done in chords with no single strings picked. Both are gorgeous and are made so by the this tuning.
It is possible to sound great barely doing anything at all. You can play beautiful chords by pressing one fret only. It is so enjoyable to listen to a guitar tuned this way that you can spend hours experimenting with one chord variations all over the neck. Once you get the feel for this, you can start doing what I have been doing for several years now which is to start learning real chords. There are numerous sites on the 'net and numerous books with lots of information on this. Once you get started you will end up inventing your own variations.
For one of the most enjoyable experiences you will have playing guitar I strongly encourage you to give open tunings a try. If you're like me and have little time for playing every day, open tunings gives a sense of accomplishment and pleasure in a short amount of time. Happy swooning!.
Ken Hassman is the owner of the back-of-book indexing service, Hassman Indexing Services, dedicated to providing high quality academic/scholarly indexing, medical indexing, trade book indexing, textbook indexing, encyclopedia indexing, journal indexing, and embedded indexing.