Most guitarists never experiment with open tunings, which is shame, because there’s a whole new world out there awaiting those guitarists who are bold enough to invest a small amount of their time. Open G Tuning is my favourite, partly because the Rolling Stones have used it extensively throughout their career.
Retune your guitar.....
To change to open G we only need to detune 3 strings, the 1st (thinnest), 5th and 6th strings. Tune the 1st string down a tone to D – check it against your 4th string (which is a D). Do the same for the 6th string, down a tone to D – check it against your 4th string. Then finally tune your 5th string down to G – check it against your 3rd string (which is a G). If you have a Line 6 Variax guitar you can program both tunings into the guitar, which means you can change tunings at the flick of a switch! Very handy indeed!
The early bluesmen used this tuning a lot, and it has a very distinctive sound. It has been described as a ‘bright’ tuning and also a ‘harmonic’ tuning. You’ll notice that when you have retuned you have 2 strings tuned to G and 3 strings tuned to D. That fact alone will make the chords sound very interesting. Personally, if I’m retuning my acoustic guitar to open g tuning, I will tune the top (thickest) string to G rather than D, which adds an even more interesting tone in my opinion.
When using open G tuning on my telecaster I take the top string off completely – as Keith Richards does. As Keith says "it just gets in the way".
Lastly, remember the capo! Even in open tuning a capo on say, the 5th fret will lead to even more interesting chord variations and that will make things sound "sweet" too. Playing chords in this tuning can be as easy as using one finger to fret all the strings on say the 5th fret, which produces a nice C chord. Using the Am7 shape aswell will yield the two most common shapes that Keith uses in open g tuning.