Alternative tunings, and more specifically, open tunings on the guitar have long been employed by rock legends like Jimmy Page and Kieth Richards. But, these open tunings are also very popular amongst a new generation of acoustic guitar players. Not only can open tunings inspire new ideas when composing and covering songs, they also can lend to beautiful textures that are easy to play!

In her course, Open Tuning Handbook: Rhythm, Vicki Genfan shows you chord shapes and songs you can start playing in 5 of her fondest open tunings.

Here are 3 free open tuning guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Vicki Genfan’s Open Tuning Handbook: Rhythm on TrueFire!

Csus2 Tuning & Overview

This is a tuning that has no 3rd in it, hence the feeling of suspension. We can call this Csus2, the 2 being the note D. It can also be referred to as a 9. Some things are a bit confusing when it comes to naming chords. Sorry. The low C makes this tuning very full sounding, but you may find that your 6th string becomes a little loose. It’s OK – just be aware of it and you may choose not to hit the string quite so hard. I use medium gauge strings and that makes it easier to handle the lower tunings (13-56). However, for now you’ll probably be using light strings since that makes playing easier overall. If you decide to use open tunings often, or if you keep one guitar in open tunings and another in standard, you can experiment with different string gauges. You can even just replace your 6th string.

I vi ii V Etude: Csus2 Performance

Download the tab & notation for this open tuning guitar lesson

Notice how I keep the top strings ringing (1, 2 & 3) throughout this entire etude. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to accidentally mute those strings while you’re changing chords.

I vi ii V Etude: Csus2 Breakdown

Download the tab & notation for this open tuning guitar lesson

The “Travis picking” pattern combines bass notes with syncopated notes on the higher strings. Often times the bass notes are alternating, especially if the root of the chords is on the 6th or 5th strings. This etude adds the hammer-on technique to the basic Travis style picking pattern. If the pattern is new to you, take your time and get it in your hands and fingers before adding the hammer-ons.

Digging these free open tuning guitar lessons? Check out Open Tuning Handbook: Rhythm.