Vicki Genfan is one of many contemporary guitar players who embrace acoustic, percussive playing, including Andy McKee, Jon Gomm, Petteri Sariola, Christie Lenée, and Kaki King among others. This type of playing takes advantage of open tunings in order to get its sound, but however, other guitar players like Keith Richards, Jimmmy Page, Joni Mitchell, and David Crosby have also taken advantage of the sonic possibilities of these tunings as well.

In her new TrueFire course, the Open Tuning Handbook, Vicki takes you through several tunings and how to play the chords for “Let It Be” using the tuning. In these lessons taken from the course, Vicki takes us through the Csus2 tuning, going through the chords and then working through three levels of playing them incorporating more and more difficult techniques as you advance. Let’s check it out:

Csus2 (CGDGCD) – Overview & Tuning

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This is another 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.

In the Level 1 & 2 exercises for this tuning, we’ll play the I-vi-ii-V chords in first position, which are beautiful and feature lots of open strings. In Level 1, we use a new strumming pattern, and in Level 2 we learn the Travis finger picking technique. In the Level 3 exercise, I’ll introduce you to some new voicings up in the 7th and 9th frets over a simple “reggae” feel.

Diatonic Chords & Let It Be – Csus2: Demonstration

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Notice the fuller sound of this tuning with the low C in the bass. Remember, there are so many songs that use these diatonic chords! Can you pick out some that you’re already playing? What if you could change around the chords in the “Let It Be” progression and find another progression you like? That could be the beginning of a new composition!

I vi ii V Etude Level 1 – Csus2: Performance

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Wow – how nice it is to be able to strum that 6th string! Notice how little I move my fingers on my fretting hand.

I vi ii V Etude Level 1 – Csus2: Breakdown

Practice the strumming pattern first and make sure you have that down. Let the strings ring out at the end of each measure. Try the fingerings I’ve used, but feel free to switch fingerings if you feel more comfortable. Just remember – the least amount of movement between chords, the better. Use your thumb muting skills to mute the 6th string on the vi and V chords.

I vi ii V Etude Level 2 – Csus2: Performance

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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 Level 2 – Csus2: Breakdown

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.

I vi ii V Etude Level 3 – Csus2: Performance

Download the tab and notation for this guitar lesson on TrueFire.

We’re using some new voicings in this etude and adding the reggae feel. Notice how quickly I change from the ii chord to the V chord! Slow it down at first if you can’t make it a smooth transition.

I vi ii V Etude Level 3 – Csus2: Breakdown

Check out the new voicings first. Get your fingerings in place. Remember that while changing to the last chord (V), you can simply slide your ring finger all the way to the 9th fret on the 4th string. When sliding like this, lift the pressure up so your finger is ever so lightly touching the string. How are you doing with the mute in the strumming pattern? You can use a pick – or just your fingers, like me.

If you’d like to learn more open tunings, make sure to check out the rest of the course on TrueFire. In the full version of the Open Tuning Handbook, Vicki will teach you five more tunings and the associated chords to play “Let It Be”. Let’s tune up!